12 things I wish I knew before starting my career


Experts answer: “What is something I wish I knew before starting my career?”

Starting your career can feel like navigating a maze blindfolded. Whether you’re about to graduate, or you’ve just landed your dream gig, it can be nerve-wracking to start your career journey. 

And from there, it’s a whole new world of work. What do terms like EOD or 1:1 even mean? And can you wear jeans on Footy Colours day?

In times like these, it’s best to seek advice from people who have already walked the path you’re now on. That’s why we’ve pulled together 12 experts in our team to share wisdom they wish they’d known when starting their careers.

1. Step out of your comfort zone

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Jade Tiller, HR Support Consultant at Employment Hero
Recognise your strengths and weaknesses, be willing to take risks, and seize all opportunities that come your way! Sometimes, you have to seek out those opportunities yourself instead of waiting for them to come to you. Although stepping outside of your comfort zone can be scary, it can also lead to trying new things and discovering hidden talents you never knew you had!
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Jade Tiller

2. Level up!

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Andrew Gao, Payroll System Consultant at Employment Hero
Work is a brand new environment. It’s like playing a video game, and you have to learn the rules of that game to keep levelling up.
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Andrew Gao

I used Swag Jobs before starting my career

3. Uni isn’t the only path

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Jacqui Wrightson, HR Support Consultant at Employment Hero
Choosing a university degree that will set you up for your entire life isn’t the be-all and end-all! Gaining experience within corporate roles outside of school has pivoted my career for the better by understanding what I love to do for work. You won’t know this whilst you’re sitting in the school hall assembly. This will take time and patience, however being vulnerable and open to change will allow career options to be available!
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Jacqui Wrightson

4. A lesson in leadership

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Mick Baker, Digital Growth Specialist at Employment Hero
Learn from your bad bosses as well as your good ones. Learn who you don’t want to be, so that in the future you can be the leader you wanted for your younger self.
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Mick Baker

5. Get connected

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Jessica Robinson, HR Support Consultant at Employment Hero
The power of networking! There is so much knowledge and information you can learn from communicating with those around you and so many opportunities that may present themselves to you that you may have otherwise missed. Networking is about taking on the knowledge, experiences and skills of others to shape your own future career path and grow both personally and professionally.
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Jessica Robinson

6. Celebrate transferable skills

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Adriana Vandy, HR Support Consultant at Employment Hero
How much your early work experience and the skills you learn transfer from one role to another and help you grow! Looking back and reflecting it’s easy to see how your experiences have helped you develop, but I think being fully aware of this from the beginning would really open your eyes to the opportunities to grow in those early years.
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Adriana Vandy

7. Value your perspective

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Romi Hudakova, Marketing Specialist at Employment Hero
When starting in a new role, especially as a junior, it is quite easy to fall into the trap of following how things have always been done. However, I’ve come to realise that as a newbie, you also bring with you a fresh perspective and can more easily pick up on things that can be improved, so don’t ever shy away from thinking critically about things and share your suggestions, no matter how ‘obvious’ they might seem.
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Romi Hudakova

8. Your career path is not fixed

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Johan Micheelsen, Head of Marketing at Swag
You’re not in your job for life. My parents stayed in their jobs for, like, ever. But most people stay in a job for a few years and then move on.
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Johan Micheelsen

9. Diversity, equity and inclusion

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Skye Cusack, Content Specialist at Swag
It’s okay to ask for accommodations if you need them to perform your role. I struggled for so many years, trying to mask my neurodivergent brain to fit into the hustle and grind. But now I know it’s not a burden to ask for support from your leaders – and to recognise that if a workplace can’t accommodate or support you, it might be time to find a new employer who can. 
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Skye Cusack

10. Be open minded

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Diane Banh, TA Specialist at Employment Hero 
Never assume what you like or dislike, you could have undiscovered hidden talents, passions and avenues that might have led to a more fulfilling journey if you choose to do something out of your comfort zone. Embracing it has taught me the value of adaptability and continuous growth.
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Diane Banh

11. Become a ‘yes man’

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Taryn Blackhurst, Growth Marketing Manager at Swag
Say yes to everything and ask questions – you’ll be surprised who you meet or what you learn whilst you’re in uni or in your early years of your career. Learn from your senior leaders and don’t be afraid to pitch your creative ideas.
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Taryn Blackhurst

12. Ask questions

Something I wish I knew before starting my career…
From Kristina Gojkovic, Digital Marketing Specialist at Employment Hero
Try as many different jobs as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you have an uncle or auntie, or if one of your parents’ friends is doing a job that you think you might be interested in, ask them as many questions as you can.
Something I wish I knew before starting my career: Kristina Gojkovic

I used Swag Jobs before starting my career

What skills should you develop before starting your first job?

Before starting your first job, it’s essential to develop certain skills that will help you succeed in the workplace. These skills will vary depending on your chosen industry, and even the specific role you land. We’ve outlined ten t skills that are important to cultivate:

  1. Learning agility: You’ll continue to learn and grow through your entire career, but when you first start out, this is a great time to develop this skill. Be willing to learn and adapt to new technologies, industry trends, and best practices. 
  2. Communication: Being able to express yourself clearly, both verbally and in writing, is crucial in any job. Practise speaking confidently, listening actively, and conveying your ideas effectively. 
  3. Time management: Learning how to prioritise tasks, meet deadlines, and stay organised will make you more productive and reliable. 
  4. Problem-solving: Develop your ability to identify challenges, analyse situations, and come up with creative and practical solutions. Employers value individuals who can think critically and make sound decisions. 
  5. Teamwork: Understand the importance of working well with others. Cultivate your collaboration skills, be open to different perspectives, and be willing to contribute to the group’s success. 
  6. Adaptability: The working world can be unpredictable, so being adaptable and embracing change will help you handle whatever work throws at you. 
  7. Computer skills: Familiarise yourself with basic computer applications like the Microsoft Office suite, email, and online tools commonly used in your industry. 
  8. Customer service: Even if your job isn’t directly related to customer service, understanding how to handle customers’ needs and complaints will be valuable in any role. Remember, your colleagues are your internal customers, too!
  9. Self-motivation: Cultivate a strong work ethic and the drive to take initiative. Being proactive and showing enthusiasm will impress your employers. 
  10. Networking: Building a professional network can open up opportunities and provide valuable support and advice throughout your career.

Continuous learning is essential for professional growth. Remember, no one is perfect, and it’s normal to continue developing these skills throughout your career. Embrace every learning opportunity and approach your first job with enthusiasm and a willingness to grow.

Learning before I start my career is cool!

How do you overcome imposter syndrome in your first job?

It’s important to recognise that imposter syndrome is common, especially among those starting their careers. In fact, 85% of working Australians struggle with feelings of incompetence in their jobs, so if you feel like this, you’re not alone. But many of those Australians are fantastic at their jobs – and you will be too!

Here are four ways to tackle imposter syndrome:

  • Reach out to your circle: Talk about your feelings with trusted colleagues, friends, or family members. They may have their own experiences and can offer helpful advice. Sharing your experiences can normalise the feelings and provide you with support and encouragement.
  • Reframe your thinking: Avoid comparing yourself to others – your journey is unique. Be kind to yourself and appreciate the learning process. Understand that no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes, especially when starting a new job. Allow yourself to learn and grow, and don’t expect to know everything from day one. 
  • Get connected: Surround yourself with positive role models and mentors who can guide you through the challenges of your new role. Instead of fearing feedback, actively seek it out. Constructive criticism can help you identify areas for improvement and build your skills. 
  • Seek help if needed: If you feel these thoughts are impacting your wellbeing, consider reaching out for help to get through this with the support of a professional.

It’s a gradual process, but with time and perseverance, you’ll gain confidence and thrive in your job!

How do you start a career when nothing interests you?

Starting a career can be an exciting journey, but it can also be a challenging one, especially when nothing seems to ignite your enthusiasm. It’s completely normal to feel unsure and even frustrated when you’re uncertain about the right career path. However, please know that you’re not alone, and many individuals have faced similar uncertainty. 

Procrastinating before I start my career

We’ve got three ways to make it easier to start a career when nothing initially captures your passion:

  • Self-exploration: Take time to self-reflect and discover your passions, values and strengths. Engage in activities and hobbies that bring you joy or a sense of accomplishment. This self-awareness can help you identify potential career paths and create achievable goals to get there.
  • Explore diverse opportunities: Research and explore various career fields and industries. Attend career fairs, workshops, and informational interviews to learn about different options. Volunteer or intern in various roles to gain hands-on experience and discover what sparks your curiosity. Bonus: these experiences look great on a stand out job application!
  • Network and connect: Build relationships with professionals from different fields through networking events, online platforms, or personal connections. Talking to others about their careers can provide insights and help you uncover opportunities you may not have considered. 

Remember, the journey of discovering your passion and purpose may take time, so be patient and proactive in your approach.

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Using Swag Job before I started my career



The information in this article is current as at August 2023, and has been prepared by Employment Hero Pty Ltd (ABN 11 160 047 709) and its related bodies corporate (Employment Hero) for its Swag brand. The views expressed in this article are general information provided in good faith to assist job seekers in the current market, and should not be relied on as professional advice. Some Information is based on data supplied by third parties and whilst such data is believed to be accurate, it has not been independently verified and no warranties are given that it is complete, accurate, up to date or fit for the purpose for which it is required. Employment Hero does not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy in such data and is not liable for any loss or damages arising directly or indirectly as a result of reliance on, use of or inability to use any information provided in this article. You should undertake your own research and seek professional advice before making any important career decisions or solely relying on the information in this article.

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