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Just landed your dream job? Congrats! It’s important to get off to a good start if you want your career to flourish. A whole new environment awaits. New work, colleagues and a new boss. Are you ready for it? Starting off is always an exciting time but can also be nerve-wracking and stressful at the same time.

Finding the perfect job can be a challenge in tough economic times. For that reason, you need to grab any opportunity coming your way with both hands. While in the midst of training, you’re expected to slowly take on a full load of responsibilities. Your first job is an amazing opportunity to set the tone for the rest of your career. Therefore you have to work hard at all times. This might sound simple but in practice, it’s far more difficult.

You just don’t want a job that pays the bills only, you want something that you’ll enjoy or that will be beneficial for your career in the long run. As you start out in the real world, you’ll have to find a way to support yourself.

Here are five things you need to know when starting out in your career.

The first few weeks is the hardest

If you thought university was hard, wait until you hit the real world. You’re bound to experience at least a few challenges and adjustments. Before you start your new job, you’re likely to know your schedule. However, the specifics of your daily routine, like who you’ll be working with, are waiting to be discovered during your first few days. The first few months on the job is usually difficult as you’ll have to familiarise yourself with the new procedures or policies. You need to learn to be patient, you won’t grasp everything overnight. You’ll make a few mistakes in the beginning but they are there to be learned from. Always double check your work before sending it off.

The accepted salary

During the interview, the recruiter will ask what your salary expectations are. In many cases, the company has a fixed salary or stipend and changing that isn’t negotiable. Also, you’ll have to be at the company for a certain amount of time, usually six months to a year, to expect an increase. Many people who’re just starting off in their career think they can negotiate after a few months, that’s not the way it works. Some companies will deduct pension fund and medical aid directly from your salary. You should ask about this during your interview process or when you start. If the company doesn’t deduct that from your salary, then you should request information about what the Essential Medical plan is and its benefits.

Build your professional image

How you project yourself to the world is one of the most important ways that you communicate your professionalism. You should dress and behave in a manner that will allow you to establish a stellar reputation and image at work. However, success is more than just how you dress to work. Always maintain a can-do attitude, master your tasks and honour your commitments. Take a positive attitude towards your work and you’ll find that your professional image benefits. Treat everyone with respect, regardless of whether they’re your senior, you’re working with them or whether they are in a position under you. The image that you build up is founded on how you treat others. You have to pay attention to key details when building your professional image. Associate yourself with people that match the image you want to project.

Get to know the culture

It’s important to take a look at the company’s culture when doing your research. Is this a place where you want to work? Will you fit in perfectly? Can you handle their vibe, the distractions, the jokes? It’s easy to find out some details about the company’s culture but harder to figure out in reality what’s it like working at the organisation day-to-day. If you are invited for a second interview and are given the opportunity to meet your potential colleagues, take the chance to observe and learn the company’s culture. Try to fit in with the culture.

Communication is key

You should communicate effectively with your colleagues in order to prevent misunderstandings and conflicts. This will  help you form healthy relationships and allow you to effectively work with a team. Polish your verbal and written communication skills, use the appropriate level of formality and proofread everything. When communicating with colleagues you should maintain confidentiality and treat them as you would like to be treated. Always have open lines when communicating.

Being the new kid at the office can be tricky, particularly when you’re starting your first real job. But by being conscientious and keeping the above tips in mind, you’ll fit right in – and quickly.