My First Grown-Up Job

I recently had my first professional review after being at my current job for a year. This was a new experience for me and I’d like to give a few tips that I’ve discovered having gone through the process recently. 

  1. Understanding the performance metrics is key. When I was hired, I immediately asked for a copy of the job description and the evaluation rubric so I would know how I was going to be scored. I was given the most up-to-date description and rubric the company possessed and was told that it would be updated for the upcoming year. I wish I’d reminded my HR Head to send me the updated description and rubric. My company had us fill out assessments of ourselves, and then our managers went over our answers with us and shared their thoughts. I assigned myself higher marks than I ended up being awarded because I didn’t fully understand the scoring system. 
  2. I wish I’d known the average salary and or hourly rate for my position based on geography. I was told by my manager that the organization was conducting market research to determine what would be appropriate for everyone regarding “merit increases”. It was framed as the company wanting to do right by its employees. Market research is done by the organization to make sure their pay and benefits are in sync with the market, not primarily to keep existing employees satisfied. The hourly rate where I currently work is well below the national and geographic averages. Had I known that we were going to be discussing market research, I would’ve gone in asking “ Are they thinking about raising everyone’s hourly rate by x or y?” Knowledge is always helpful; the more facts you have on your side the better.
  3. Specific examples are key. As for me, it’s been hit or miss getting specific examples from coworkers and managers alike when I need to improve. I have one coworker who always communicates with me in the way I need. She’s taken the time to learn and consistently points out what needs to be worked on with key examples so I can focus on the problematic behaviors. If your manager doesn’t give you concrete examples and won’t after repeated attempts, try to find a trusted coworker or mentor. 
  4. Your evaluation isn’t personal; it’s business (please see You’ve Got Mail). I am guilty of taking work feedback as an indictment of my worth as a person or as an employee. Conflict is uncomfortable for everyone and if someone is bringing up something to you, they’ve probably thought about how to say it in a way that won’t make it worse. Do your best to put yourself in their shoes and see how you can implement their feedback. I’m not always able to implement what I know my coworker would prefer, but there’s always something useful in the exchange that I can use to better myself. 
  5. Consider the source of the feedback. My manager isn’t on-site with me day in and day out. There are situations that she gets a macro look at and we never fully discuss. I have found that the most helpful feedback comes from people who work with me regularly. I’m not trying to say that I don’t heed my manager’s advice, because I do. I have just found that the most concrete and practical advice comes from those who know how to put it in a way that I can digest it. 
  6. Not every job is made for you. I’m sure this is true for those who are neurotypical, but it’s especially true for those of us who are neurodivergent. Not every job will play to your strengths. Mine doesn’t play to mine 60-70% of the time. If the feedback you’re getting tells you this job doesn’t bring out the best in you, it just means your gifts lie elsewhere. I’ve spent too much time trying to force myself to be good at things that I just never will be. It’s caused me unnecessary frustration and those who care about me and want me to succeed. It’s okay to decide that a job isn’t for you and move on if you need to.
  7. Boundaries. Boundaries. Boundaries. I will be the first to admit that in my personal life, I handle business and get stuff done. I tell it how it is and I’m blunt. I tend to be more of a doormat at work. I do work that I shouldn’t, and I let others take advantage of my work ethic. I heard somewhere once, I believe it was from Dave Ramsey, that “No is a full sentence.” One of my goals going forward in life and especially at work is to say “no” and hold my boundaries firm. 

I hope this advice has been helpful. Wishing you a peaceful and harmonious career. 


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