Your first job and future jobs

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” Mark Twain

Nowadays there are many common work careers that apply to many industries. This is a good thing for you - because if you decide to make a career as a secretary, accountant, mechanic, customer service manager, logistics officer, payroll officer, etc. then these types of jobs are readily transferable between companies and industries with very little re-training for you.

This is just as well, because most of today’s school leavers will work for several different employers and probably have at least 3 and possibly many more careers in their work life.

So you can take some comfort from the fact that what you start off doing after you leave school is unlikely to be your final career.

Now let’s look at what goes on within each job.

Adding value

There is only one reason for the existence of a job, and that is to contribute to the value proposition of the business. Each job adds value. If a job does not create more value than the cost of a job, then it shouldn’t exist. If it does exist without creating value, then it won’t last.

As a new starter, you are likely to be in some sort of support role. You will likely be helping your supervisor complete a set of tasks. So you don’t have to worry about whether your job is “valuable” or not, your task is simply to carry out your allotted tasks to the best of your ability.

Now some tasks in any job description are more value adding than others. These are sometimes called “critical tasks”.

You need to understand what these critical tasks are, and make sure that - no matter what happens - they get done.

Other tasks will be not so important, maybe could be described by your boss as something he “wants” you to do, not necessarily something that you “must do”.

Sometimes the “must do” tasks are menial. Critical doesn’t mean EXCITING or even INTERESTING. It could be as menial as making sure the office is locked up at the end of work. This adds value because it reduces risk to the business of loss.

In the later example of a waiter. You will see that critical tasks are all about customer service, as there is a clear value minus if customers are not well looked after.

Even in work where you are not directly bringing in cash, you job will add value in some way. For example, it could be in reducing costs, maybe your job uses a lot of materials, and if your task allows you to reduce the amount of waste, then it can add value in that way. So value adding can be about cost reduction too.

Also value adding can be about doing things more quickly. For example, if you are a receptionist and your job is to pass on messages, you may be able to make better use of another employees’ time by getting messages to them as soon as practical, so they can better organise their work.

And we know from experience that about 80% of the tasks will be boring and mundane, whereas 20% of the tasks will be adding value.

By now, I hope you appreciate that your job should not be measured simply as a cost to the company, but as a value adding stage.

But for now, let’s evaluate what the job value adding needs to be to justify the job position. It’s not simply the cost of your wages. It is a lot more.

Consider the cost of a poor employee providing bad service.

There is a relationship between the number of customers who will tell a friend about bad customer service, and the number who will tell a friend about good customer service. The ratio is about 22 to 1. In other words, a customer will tell 22 people about your bad service, and only tell one person if you give good service.

Hardly sounds fair, does it?

However, that’s life. Deal with it, and be happy that your good customer service is avoiding 22 people getting a poor message about your business.