Here are some career-related questions I was asked during a recent workshop that I led at one of the top UK business schools. I have aimed to provide brief answers to these questions, which I believe are pertinent to any recent graduate about to embark on their first full-time job.
Q: I have just been offered an analyst position at one of the UK’s top banks and I am starting in July. When shall I start getting to know my colleagues and networking within the company?
A: I would suggest you start the process immediately, well before you come to the company on your first day of employment. Search for employees on LinkedIn, connect and invite them out for a coffee to get to know some general cultural aspects of your company in an informal context before you join. You may also want to ask your future boss (if you know who they are going to be of course) to meet you for coffee before you start to get to know each other and so you can find out more about the nature of your role – for which you can then prepare better.
Q: If I have worked in a company for a year or so and would like to start searching for other jobs, should I tell my current employer about what I am doing?
A: I would recommend not telling your employer and go for interviews after work or during your lunch breaks. I appreciate that it can be very stressful and need a lot of planning in advance but you will need to be open with companies you are interviewing for and tell them you are working full-time. Generally, they will be sympathetic and arrange interview appointments at more convenient times for you.
Q: If I know that my question at a meeting may annoy my boss, should I still ask the question?
A: I would say – definitely, go for it. It is your right to ask for an explanation if something is unclear and you can phrase it in a polite way. If you feel your boss is annoyed by the question, then find a quiet minute after the meeting and approach them on a one-to-one basis apologising if your question was inappropriate in their opinion. It’s always best to solve any issues you may have with your boss direct and in a one-to-one context.
Q: The team leader at our company meetings is very active and intimidating and speaks all the time. People find it hard to interject and share their own thoughts on the issues. How do I do it?
A: I would say there are a number of ways for successfully interjecting at meetings. One of them is to ask a question to the whole group along the lines of, “What would you all say if I suggested we complete this task in this amount of time?” Alternatively, if you would like to clarify something, you could say something like this, “I am sorry but I didn’t fully understand what you meant. Could you please explain it again?” But most important of all, don’t interrupt the team leader, look for a natural pause in his or her speech and then speak up yourself.