mistakes new grads make at their first jobs
Career College

5 Mistakes New Grads Make at Their First Jobs

As someone who was super intimidated by her first job after college, this guest post couldn’t be more welcome! Occasionally on the blog, I like to talk about more “traditional” jobs for college students and recent grads, as well as ways to make money online. That’s why Ann of Student Savings Guide is sharing these 5 mistakes new grads make at their first jobs.

Whether you’re just starting your first job after college or you’re working your first freelancing gig, these tips are for you! Let’s jump into the guest post.

You’ve finally landed your first big job after graduating from college. Congratulations! It’s time to start your career and take on the world.

Jumping into a new career in a first-time job is exciting, but scary. It can be easy to become overwhelmed in these uncharted waters. There are plenty of mistakes that are easy for new graduates to make. Taking a close look at the top five most common ones can help steer you into making smarter choices in your first job.

first job mistakes after college

1. Lack of Networking

Starting a new job can be daunting. You may have dozens, possibly hundreds, of new names and faces to remember, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. While you might want to disappear and fade into the background, now is the time to start building your network instead. The old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” couldn’t be truer in the workplace. Having a solid network of colleagues and friends throughout your career can help propel you to exciting new heights. 

One useful way to branch out and meet people is to build your professional presence through trade shows and other networking opportunities. Consider starting there to build your circle of colleagues and grow your customer base. Trade shows require time, research and preparation, but can pay off in the long run for your career. Networking is an acquired skill, so start practicing this early in your career and you’ll be successful for years to come.

2. Not Asking for Help

When you’re new at a job it can be intimidating to ask for help. You were hired for this position because of your degree and skill set, so admitting you don’t understand a topic or directive can be tough. But asking for help — and asking immediately when an issue pops up — will save you undue stress and time, ensuring that you can do your duties right the first time. 

Asking questions can help you gain a better understanding of the bigger picture at work. If you work to understand an unfamiliar facet of the project or job, you may have a more complete picture of the company’s overall mission. 

Asking for help goes beyond job functions and can even extend to the terminology used in the workplace, procedural protocols, or HR-related issues. Your colleagues and bosses understand that this is your first job, and they want to help you grow a successful career.

3. Failing to Prepare for Tax Season

You are earning a paycheck and actually bringing home some money. Good for you! Unfortunately, not all of your income is yours to keep; a good chunk of your earned income goes straight to taxes. The standard tax deductions will be automatically deducted from your paycheck in accordance with how you complete your W-4 form

It can be a challenge to try to understand where your income goes from paycheck to paycheck. Be sure to plan to pay your taxes at the end of the year by calculating the tax bracket you fall into.

Many new graduates are shocked and unprepared when they owe money at the end of the year because they withheld too little money from their pay. Plus, several companies offer 401K retirement plans and health savings accounts that can greatly impact your end-of-year taxes.

4. Resting in Complacency

It certainly takes time in any position to really become an expert at what you’re doing. The intricacies and nuances of a job really don’t start to stand out until you’ve been in the position for a good while. But how long is too long? If you get stuck for too long in the same position without an increase in responsibility, title, or pay, it may be time to start looking for new career opportunities. 

Sometimes a new city is just what people need to start fresh in a new market with a new job. A city like Tampa, for example, has a low cost of living and is quickly growing in jobs related to STEM industries. A new city can also spell a potential promotion or pay raise.

Don’t be afraid to move early in your career if a company is not aligning with your own goals or aspirations. Finding out early in your career will help get you on the right track sooner.

5. Working Harder, Not Smarter

You’re in a brand-new job and eager to impress your boss, so you may choose to work through lunches or stay in the office late at the end of the day. But while you may be working harder, you’re not necessarily working smarter. Learning to accomplish the same tasks in less time doesn’t detract from your job performance. In fact, working smarter can help to keep you fresh and energized, and won’t burn you out from long hours at the office. 

If you’re having trouble figuring out how to balance work, there are many time-management tips and techniques that can help you organize your day. Delegating tasks to others is a great way to still accomplish what needs to be done in the day while freeing up your valuable time to focus on tasks only you can perform. Prioritize what you need to complete day to day, and identify duties that can be done by others. 

Prepare for Your First Job After College

You’re making a great impression at your first real job. By keeping your eyes and ears open, connecting with colleagues, asking questions, planning and managing your time wisely, and acknowledging when you need help, you can continue to move onward and upward professionally.

Ann lloyd

My name is Ann Lloyd and I’m a newly enrolled MBA grad student. I’m getting my degree online and working as a Marketing intern on the side. In my spare time, I’m hard at work on the Student Saving Guide. The Student Saving Guide is my take on living a budget conscious life. My blog caters to students and recent grads, but anyone can use these tips to get by.

Do you want to contribute a blog post to Samanthability? I’m always looking for guest posts! Just read my contributor guidelines.

5 Mistakes New Grads at Their First Job


Hey, I'm Sam! I'm the blogger and full-time writer behind Samanthability. I blog about starting your own blog and rocking post-grad life. You can find me exploring Seattle, binge-drinking iced coffees, and reading spicy romance books. I'm glad you're here!