The graduate recruitment process can be challenging and competitive. Such is the focus on making successful applications that preparing for the reality of the workplace in your first graduate job can often be overlooked. How can you be successful and create a good impression? This is the theme of 3 careers webinars this week (book a place using those links)
At a BAFTA creative industries careers event I attended in 2019 I was struck by the number of industry professionals who referred to the importance of attitude in terms of career success. Particularly the impact a positive attitude can have, both for the individual employee and the team they are a member of. But what do we mean by attitude in the context of making a good impression in the workplace?
Attitude is something that can mean different things to different people but it is distinct from having the skills and abilities to perform a job role. It can, for example, refer to a perspective, an outlook or an opinion. But essentially it determines how we behave. Ask yourself how you would feel on your first day in the workplace if you are asked to do some photocopying. Or deliver some documents to a colleague on a different floor of the building.
Would your reaction be ‘…why am I being asked to do this, don’t they realise I have a degree?’ You may feel this is a legitimate response given what you are capable of. But if your body language suggests a negative response what impression could it give to the person making the request? If you want to be successful, building a professional reputation is so important in the early stages of a new job role. It can be hard to develop and is easily undermined by a negative demeanour.
Are you someone who is seen as reliable and who can be trusted to deliver? Above all, are you demonstrating a willingness to work hard? Are you developing a perception among your colleagues that you have a ‘can-do’, positive outlook? If you are, you are subsequently more likely to be asked to take on more challenging, important responsibilities. Your colleagues will view you as someone who is collaborative and who is prepared to ‘muck in.’
A positive outlook develops effective working relationships
I am not suggesting you have to accept tea making duties throughout a 2 year graduate scheme or all of an internship programme! If you do what is reasonably expected of you however, without questioning it, you will earn your colleagues respect more quickly. Demonstrating your willingness to perform a wide variety of duties means that you will be trusted to work without supervision and take on more responsibilities as you work through a graduate scheme.
There is also evidence that a positive attitude at work creates a more productive workplace. You may experience higher levels of job satisfaction if you play a part in creating a work culture and environment that is motivating for everyone.
How can you create and maintain a positive outlook?
Work can be stressful and workplaces in some employment sectors can be pressurised, demanding environments. If you are the person who remains upbeat and who sees challenges as opportunities you can become a positive role model for others to emulate. Remember that enthusiasm is infectious. Contrast this personality type with the other extreme, the employee whose default response to any/some requests always appears to be, ‘no...’
Perhaps a negative response to a request in the workplace is a result of a training gap, that the person simply doesn’t have the skills, ability or confidence to perform the duty. But if it is indicative of a pattern of negative behaviour it may start to become an issue for your colleagues and line manager. It can start to effect the way a team gels and people may start to question if you are a good ‘fit.’ Moreover, it may start to impact on the individuals enjoyment of the job role and become demotivating. In the longer term feeling disillusioned at work can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety.
A positive attitude resonates with employers
Conveying a positive outlook in a job application is more engaging and will make an impression when recruiters sift through applications. “When looking at placement or graduate candidates the only thing we need to see is potential – and a positive attitude is a vital part of that” says Tim Page, co-founder and programmer at Well Played Games “Positive attitude means willingness to learn, professionalism, enthusiasm, the right mix of confidence and humility, dedication and team-work. The great news for candidates, is that if you are an interesting and ‘switched on’ person, a prospective employer will be able to see most of these traits evidenced in your hobbies and interests.”
We do tend to gravitate towards positive people – consider how your positive outlook will help you to achieve higher levels of job satisfaction, be more effective in your work and help you to develop social as well as professional relationships. It may make work even make work easier as colleagues are more likely to want to help you! What better way to conclude this blog as you prepare to start your career in the near future than with a quote from the Greek philosopher Epictetus
“It’s not what happens to you but how you react to it that matters”