HRM Five: Practical tips for young professionals

The beginning of one's career is the most crucial. Here are five valuable tips for professionals just starting out.
By: | September 30, 2017

HRM Five offers five important points on everything you wanted to know about HR practices today, but were too afraid to ask. Check out previous editions of HRM Five here.


There are many lessons people learn throughout their career that, if applied to the early stages of their professional life, would prove to be invaluable.

Michael Jones, National Head of Internal Recruitment at Hays, has some advice for jobseekers just staring out in their career.

The beginning of a career is a constant learning curve, with a lot of pressure to progress up the career ladder. The experience and knowledge gained throughout a career enhances an individual’s skills and shapes them as professionals.

Jones shares the most valuable lessons he has learned during his professional life.

Lesson 1: He/ She who shouts the loudest doesn’t necessarily get heard

Standing out from your peers in the early stages of a career in order to make a big impression can be difficult. However, simply being the loudest voice in the room adds no value.

Jones advises not to forget that you were hired for a very good reason – the company saw qualities in you that appealed to them. Therefore it is always best to be yourself, identify your weak points and address them. This will, in turn, improve your confidence.

“You don’t need to change your personality in order to get ahead, in fact, being authentic to your true self can often propel you even further along in your career because people feel they can trust and relate to you,” says Jones.

“Being yourself will come more naturally if you are more confident in your ability to progress your career on merit as opposed to a forged persona.”


Lesson 2: Asking questions doesn’t make you look stupid

Raising your hand during a meeting can seem daunting, and this is a feeling experienced by most professionals at some point during their career. However, it is important to understand that asking questions, no matter how basic they may seem, is not a weakness.

In order to succeed, you must have all information available to you. This is regardless of seniority. Even as you progress through your career, you are never too senior or experienced to ask a question.

Lesson 3: Sharing your knowledge creates a win-win situation

By sharing ideas or information, you create a culture of knowledge sharing.

However, there can be a point in an ambitious person’s career where they view information as power. Consequently, good ideas go unshared as they choose to keep them close to their chests. Without the sharing of knowledge and best practices, there is no opportunity to learn and progress.

Jones advises: “There are plenty of opportunities for you to share your knowledge, whether it’s by putting forward an idea during a meeting, adding more input when working on team projects, or running a training session with your team.”

Lesson 4: Leadership is not just the domain of senior people

Leadership is a quality rather than a skill – a trait that is exhibited early in a career and prepares people for eventually becoming a leader, as opposed to waiting to become a leader through longevity of service.

Being a leader doesn’t just mean sitting in an office and giving orders, but understanding your workforce and how to get your best from them.

“Remember that if you want to progress further, you will need to demonstrate leadership qualities, including the aforementioned knowledge sharing, leading by example in terms of performance, staying curious and open-minded, and giving praise,” says Jones.


Lesson 5: Work smarter not longer. That’s what really impresses the boss

There may be times where you have to come in early or work slightly later, for instance to speak to global clients who are in a different time zone, completing an important project, or striving towards a sales target.

However, stay conscious of maintaining your work life balance, and avoid working late for the sole purpose of impressing your boss. Jones argues that what will truly impress the boss is working smarter by making the most of your working hours.

He adds, “You are more productive with a fresh, clear and rested mind – and productivity impresses the boss. Get some exercise, engage with people outside of your work, take some time out and go back to the office with your batteries recharged.”