So what can you expect from your early work career?

Good news and bad news.

Blue collar workers who had no career aspirations starting work before the 1990s had an expectation that they would stay with that employer for their entire working life.

This had a number of implications for new starters at that time.

Employers had more time for training. You were expected to learn mostly on the job in the employer’s time, usually from your co-workers. You would be gradually exposed to tasks that the business required. You would not be expected to contribute to the business profitability in any meaningful way, until your training was complete.

Nowadays employers are under pressure to keep labour costs down. For new starters this is doubly bad news.

Firstly, your productivity is expected to generate profits for the business quickly.

Secondly, training is often regarded as an overhead, a cost to be cut when times are hard. So any training you receive to achieve improved productivity is likely to be minimal, or regarded as your responsibility.

The boss is likely to be finding it more and more difficult to keep his business going and he needs all the help he can get. The boss will be looking for employees who can cover their wages as quickly as possible.

You are going to have to hit the ground running, and contribute to the business as soon as possible.

So you will need to be clear about the employer’s expectations, and the important ways you can add value in your job. You’ll need to know the questions to ask, the behaviours to show, and to demonstrate the attitude and communication skills that the employer expects.