12 Essential Tips For Your First Job To Avoid Getting Screwed Over

Landing your first job, whether it’s in retail, food service, or something full-time and big, is an exciting and overwhelming experience that can quickly turn very stressful. It doesn’t matter if you’re only doing this to make some spending money of your own, or if you’re on your way to starting your career – as an employee, you want to do a great job, impress your boss, and try to have a little bit of fun at the same time. All of this is totally possible – and you might even meet co-workers who become great friends – but it definitely requires a lot of effort on your part. Succeeding in your job is about more than just showing up, being polite, and listening to instructions. That’s why, before you start, you have to read these essential job tips. 

Not only do you want to do an impressive job, but you also want to avoid getting screwed over. If you’re a first-time employee (or just an employee in general, really), there are many opportunities to get taken advantage of. There are a lot of supervisors out there who seem hell-bent on making their employees miserable, and co-workers who truly are backstabbing, selfish people. Having a great job means that you get treated well, because you deserve that – and it also means that you have to look out for yourself. No one else is going to look out for you!

As a manager at my own job (it still feels weird to say “my employees,” tbh), I can give you a lot of advice – but instead, I wanted to see what some Reddit users had to say in this Ask Reddit thread on tips to know for a first job. These are all really, really helpful, and things you should absolutely keep in mind. Here are some tips on how to avoid getting screwed over at your job:


Don't Do Everything For Your Boss

Of course you want to impress your boss and go above and beyond in your job - especially if you're serious about a future there - but be wary of doing too much. Once you become the person who takes on EVERYTHING, you will always be thought of as that person, and the appreciation might not always be translated to a raise or promotion. User CGY-SS says, "I learned this the hard way, but don't be too nice. Don't be indispensable. Boss wants you to come in to close on your day off? Say no. It's your time to be at home and you have every right to it. Remain polite and helpful, but don't be the teachers pet because you will, I repeat, you will be taken advantage of."

Source: iStock

If You Work In Customer Service, Expect People To Be Annoying

Okay, I'll be real with you: customer service jobs can really suck. People are rude AF, especially to anyone whose job is to literally help them. I worked as a waitress for seven years, and I have some truly horrible stories. But here's the thing: you can complain about the little, annoying tasks you have to do, but... don't. It's part of your job. Literally. You have to just accept it, and if you don't want to, that's fine, but then find a different industry!

User marzipan0204 discusses this, saying, "If your first job is in customer service (grocery, retail) remember that that is what you're there for: customer service. You are there to do stupid stuff for customers, like helping them find the can of beans that's right in front of them. Don't act like you want to leave when a customer is right in front of you. Some customers may be rude, but it is your job to be polite. I get it, it is grinding, but if you do a good job, and pay attention to the customer, the experience is extremely valuable. My first job was at a grocery store. It was pretty miserable standing for the three hour after school shift, but the lessons I learned there are invaluable. For example, it taught me how to deal with the "chronically pissed off old person" and to charm them into not being so angry anymore. Plus, you never know what's going on with them in their personal lives. Also, saving money for a big purchase (I saved for my first car) teaches you the value of your time... which at 16 isn't very much, but-- damn it-- you earned that car! In closing, first jobs suck, but take from them what you can."

Source: iStock

Don't Let Other Employees Take Advantage Of You

Most first-time employees worry about being taken advantage of by their boss or those above them. That is certainly something that happens, but something you should be just as worried about is having other co-workers take advantage of you, especially if you're new. Co-workers will often take advantage of your status to give you crappy tasks they don't want to do, or to ask you for help when they shouldn't. They know you want to do a good job and impress people, so they use that. User Cornbread52 says, "It's impossible to work and not get screwed at some point but watch out for people trying to use your new hire status and desire to impress to pawn work off on you."

Source: iStock

As A Cashier, Don't Put Cash In The Drawer Right Away

If you're a cashier handling money every day, you have to be careful and know how to protect yourself. This tip from user Finish_Line53 is helpful: "If you're a cashier, DON'T EVER put the money given to you by the customer in the drawer until you give them their change. Once that money goes into the drawer, they can easily tell the manager they gave you a 100 dollar bill when they really only gave you a 20."

Source: iStock

Find The Balance Between Being A Team Player and Looking Out For Yourself

Being a great worker is about finding the right balance in a few different areas, especially when it comes to being part of a team. Yes, you should help our co-workers when they need it, stand by their side when necessary, and be humble enough not to take all the credit for certain things. But remember - this job is for you, and you have to look out for yourself too. User petgreg says, "Learn to balance both being a team player and looking after your own interests. Many young employers get suckered by the "do it for the team" approach, but if you only look out for yourself at all times, you will get fired."

Source: iStock

Keep Track Of Your Hours

Anywhere you work, there will be a system that keeps track of your hours, usually on the computer. Great! But don't trust it. As user Kingsolomanhere says, "Write down your hours on a calendar when you get home so you don't get screwed. Also find out break rules and lay low until you know the class clowns, the bullies, and the Real boss. It might not be who you think"

Source: iStock

Ask Your Manager Questions

When a new employee starts a job, they understandably want to impress their boss. To many people, that means pretending you know everything. I find that a lot of my new interns or employees avoid asking me for help because they want me to think they're fine on their own. Cool - as long as you actually know what you're doing. You HAVE to clarify things if you're confused, because a supervisor would rather take five extra minutes to explain something over dealing with a major mistake. User Malxius says, "Make sure to listen closely if the manager is teaching you how to do your job and don't be afraid to ask questions like "What if..." because if you don't then you will have a hard time working and you will make mistakes on your job."

Source: iStock

Anger From A Boss Isn't Always About You

No matter how great of an employee you are, just know that you WILL get scolded from a supervisor at one point. As user SinanSbahi points out, "It's not always about you. A supervisor yelling at you doesn't necessarily mean he's pissed off at you and going to fire you, maybe he just had a really bad argument with his wife that day." It's still unfair, but for your own sake, remember that so that you don't feel too down on yourself.

Source: iStock

Never Feel Like You Have To Cover For Someone Else

If you work at a job where people have shifts, you will be asked, several times, if you can cover for someone. People ask that constantly - as a waitress, I got asked to cover shifts as favors at least once a week. It's just part of the job. Sometimes, you should say yes and take the shift so that others will help you when you need it. But don't let anyone take advantage of you. User citizenp says, "Your free time is just as valuable as it is to anyone else. So don't get talked into pulling overtime or working some crap shift just because others have decided to have children and you didn't. You will get the 'well I have kids so I should be off' reasoning."

That statement will probably happen, but don't let other employees bully you or guilt trip you. You do not have to say yes every time!

Source: iStock

Don't Stay At A Small Job You Hate

A lot of people hate their jobs, but it doesn't have to be that way, I swear. If you're working retail or something similar, and you dread your shifts, then find another job! User thrillerjesus explains: "If you're working retail, your company sees you as infinitely replaceable, and you are. But from your perspective, so are those jobs. If yours starts to suck too much, don't be afraid to get another." Your job does not have to be a pit of misery. Remember that!

Source: iStock

Don't Work Too Hard

Don't get me wrong: of course you want to work hard. You want to put in extra effort, and go above and beyond. But again, you need to find a balance. Work should never be your whole life. User coal_digger_ says, "Work hard, but not too hard. You need to give your employer their moneys worth, but the money you get is never worth breaking your body over."

Source: iStock

Avoid Gossiping With Co-Workers

If you're lucky, you will work with co-workers who are fun and awesome and become your friends. Great! Just... avoid workplace gossip. It's really hard to do it, but you have to. Things get messy fast, and the last thing you want is a fight with a co-worker or a meeting with HR. User flyboyfl says, "Don't gossip. You have no idea who is friends (or related) to whom. If you don't have something nice to say about someone then don't say anything."

Source: iStock

Do you have a job? What are your tips for doing a good job? Let us know in the comments.

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.

 

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