The Success Series is a collection of the best career advice from some of our favourite writers, thinkers, and leaders. This week, we asked what advice they would give to someone starting his or her first job, and to share the lessons they learned from their own first gigs. See other articles in the series here.
As you start your first job, here are three of the best pieces of advice I’ve received and love to pass on:
One of my favourite mottos is get up, dress up, show up — wake up excited for what’s coming, dress the part, and always show up ready to go.
As a new hire, you will likely find yourself in tons of new situations, and it’s up to you to figure out how to navigate them.
Remember that your manager is strapped for time, so know when to ask questions. Are you unsure of the objectives for an assignment? Asking her to clarify is crucial, since it’s pretty hard to make the mark if you don’t know where it even lies.
On the flip side, avoid bombarding your manager with petty questions that could be answered by your peers or a quick Google search.
Get the 401(k) match
I’ve had the privilege of speaking to thousands and thousands of people about money since launching LearnVest, and I always hear the same excuses when it comes to retirement: “I’ll start saving eventually, but I’m too young!” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
When you’re starting out, you have time and compounding interest on your side. You also likely have fewer financial responsibilities (especially if you’re mortgage- and kid-free). This can be a prime time to save.
Start by asking your HR department about the retirement plan offered to employees. If your company offers a 401(k) match, try to always save enough to receive the matching contribution, otherwise I think of it as leaving free money on the table.
Unable to reach your annual 401(k) cap? Every six months, try increasing the percentage of your paycheck put into your 401(k) by 1% or 2%. Those incremental shifts will add up over time.
Have a plan
I always say that not having a financial plan is a plan — just a really bad one. I believe that a complete financial plan is linked to your career and your earning power. Where you do want to be in a year? How about five years?
Having a plan in place can help you start to prepare for the road ahead. My hope is that money is something that allows you to achieve your goals — not something that stands in your way.
If you want to leave a job you dislike, move to a new city or just travel the world, create a plan designed to allow you to get there.
Alexa von Tobel, CFP®, is the founder and CEO of LearnVest, and the author of New York Times bestseller “Financially Fearless.”
LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc. that provides financial plans for its clients. LearnVest Planning Services and Business Insider are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.