How to start your first job like a pro

Some of the young guns in Gen Y and Gen Z have so far not given us a great reputation in the workplace. If you’re keen to brush up your reputation, read our guide to start your first job like a pro.

Everything you need to know for your first job: what to wear, signing up for KiwiSaver, filling in a tax return , and the rules for social media.

Before we start, let me point out that I sit squarely in Gen Y myself. So my instructions are not coming from an old fuddy-duddy who is set in their ways and “knows it all”, but from one of your classmates.

What to wear: Suit up

For the young men out there, I’m telling you right now, a T-shirt is not work dress unless you work in a warehouse.

As for the women, I can’t count how many times I’ve seen Gen Yers walking around in tops that are see-through or have holes in strange places. There’s nothing wrong with that in a casual setting, but at work, cover up.

If you look professional, chances are that people will see you that way.

Where to put your pay

You work hard for your money so make the most of it. Think about finding a transaction account that offers a bit of value in return. If the account has an interest rate attached, this is great because it means your savings money can grow slightly in between payslips. If you use your debit card a lot, you’ll want an account that allows a lot of transactions each month with no account-keeping fee.

An e-saver account could be a great partner for this transaction account, when you’re starting your first job. You can put money in when each payslip arrives but you can’t take money out all the time, so you’re forced to save for your goals.

Compare Transaction Accounts

How to hold meetings

I’m told that we often “Yeah, yeah, yeah” our way through business meetings. For my part, I know that I often think meetings go longer than they have to. However, I try not to let this impatience show. Everyone around us probably has more experience than we do, so we need to show them respect by not rushing through their explanation of what we’re doing, unless we have something to contribute or clarify.

“It’s important for Millennials to demonstrate to older generations that they are active listeners.” – Brandon Shockley, researcher and strategist at Plannerzone, Inc.

Other basic tips for meeting survival:

  • Get off your mobile phone.
  • Make eye contact. (We’re used to looking down at our phone, but a meeting is the time to look up.)
  • Say “thank you” when someone hands you something, gives you credit for something, or helps you out in any other way.
  • Don’t disagree if you don’t like the task you’ve been given. (“It seems like my time would be better spent doing something more suited to my skills…”)

“This person sounds responsible, but they’ve potentially ditched the team’s goals and priorities for their own preferences.” – Andy Hooper, Vice President of Gap International

Signing up for KiwiSaver

When you start earning an income, you have the option of joining KiwiSaver.

KiwiSaver is a voluntary, work-based savings initiative. Essentially, if you join, you can choose to contribute either 3%, 4% or 8% of your pay into a KiwiSaver scheme. If you contribute (and you’re eligible) the government will also kick in an extra 3%.

Your KiwiSaver savings will generally be locked in until:

  • you’re eligible for NZ Super (currently 65), or
  • you’ve been a member for at least 5 years (if you joined over the age of 60).

You may be able to make an early withdrawal of part (or all) of your savings if you’re:

  • buying your first home
  • moving overseas permanently
  • suffering significant financial hardship
  • seriously ill.

Choose your KiwiSaver fund carefully.

Your KiwiSaver fund might look like it’s growing really slowly when you’re young and you’re not earning a heck of a lot from your part-time burger-flipping gig. But in fact you are building money towards your future every time you and the government make the required contribution.

Compare KiwiSaver Funds

How to respond to emails: Manners, darling

We Millenials like to keep our speech pretty casual, but when it comes to the office, we need to step up the professionalism a few notches. This is even more important when you’re sending emails, because you’re not looking the person in the eye, and casual words sound even more casual.

Jill Rigby Garner, author of the book Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World and founder of Manners of the Heart, has some amazingly helpful tips:

  • Read over your email before you send it and ask yourself whether it really sounds like a request. Include please and thank you, and she says to avoid the term “ASAP” at all costs since it makes your email sound like a ransom note.
  • If you’re just shooting off a quick reply to say, “Yes, that sounds good, thanks.” then that is exactly what you should write. Not a one-word email that just says, “Yup”, “Ya”, or “Haha”.

Oh, and jokes don’t go down great over email, where you can’t “read” the sarcasm on a person’s face.

Social media: Not during work hours

I hope I don’t have to tell you that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat are for your lunch break or after work – not during work.

Networking over social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn? Be careful to make sure your message is still ultra-profesh, and you don’t sound like you’re chatting with someone in a club. You might be using “social” media to send it, but it is still a work-related message you’re sending.

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