Starting a new job? These skills are a must

Picture yourself stepping into the professional realm for the very first time, eager to make a mark. This article offers a deep dive into some of the most underrated skills that are essential for fresh jobseekers.

In the summer of 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, is when I landed my first job in Germany as a research assistant at a well-known research institute in Stuttgart. Still studying at the time, the job was indeed part-time, but one of the best learning experiences I had as a young professional in a foreign country. Although I had a couple of years of work experience under my belt from India, it was nevertheless a steppingstone to the professional realm in Germany.

Jumping different hoops to land the job is something familiar to most of us, and I often come across various career seminars, webinars, and workshops to support students with their job search. When you do land the job, dream job or not, internship or student assistant job, it is essential to have a bit of know-how into the work culture and the expectations as a young professional to ease into your new professional environment. Of course, there is this motto of ‘learning by doing’, which is true to a great extent, but in order to make the learning experience less stressful, one must prepare a bit in advance and have a mindset to learn and tackle challenges that one experiences in the work environment. So, from the wisdom of fellow alumni who were once in your shoes and personal experiences, here are some tips for you – from an oldie to a newbie. They may or may not come as a surprise for you, but nonetheless they are here to help you in your journey towards ‘making it in Germany’. 

Learning by observing

As mentioned earlier, learning by doing is a well-known method however a step before and throughout the learning process as a young professional, one must adopt the skill of learning from observing. You might be just getting a grip on the job skills that are required in your field, but your colleagues with years of experience around you have mastered those skills, and it has been their daily grind for years. You do not need to reinvent the wheel, instead just observe how they perform a certain task and handle work situations. Be attentive and mindful of learning opportunities at work and adopt those techniques by giving a personal touch to it to make it your own.

Soft skills – The most understated skill of all

Believe me when I say you really need to prioritise on your soft skills as much as the hard skills. Soft skills are not just all about the ability to work in a team and being a ‘team player’. Clear communication, confidence, asking the right questions, friendliness, being respectful to others’ ideas, handling tough situations diplomatically, acknowledging others’ contributions and giving credit where and when it is due, solution oriented thinking are some of the most basic soft skills one must have as a professional. These are not taught individually, they are something we are expected to already have and inculcate in our profession, but you would be surprised how a good deal of them fail to do so. Having a strong set of soft skills along with your specific job-related hard skills will help you advance in reaching your professional goals.


Professional lingo and tools

Keep an eye out for communication and digital tools that are used at work, specific to your line of work, and familiarise yourself with them. For example, if you are working in a German-speaking environment and German is not your native tongue, take notes on frequently used vocabulary at work and in project meetings. This will help to fast-track your learning process at work. Simple things such as managing your Outlook, organising work files, responding to emails are the basics. These days, to be efficient, one must have a basic know-how of project management and communication. Keep in mind, this is relevant across fields and professions and just limited to management fields.


Yes, ask. Just ask. This three-letter word is your friend as a young professional when you are still figuring out things and navigating your work environment. Organising yourself according to the workflows and preparing beforehand are on one hand necessary. On the other hand, asking to clarify whether you have understood the task correctly and asking anticipated questions are something that one must feel comfortable to do so. Keep in mind to ask moderately, and you may not get the ‘right’ answers straight away. But when you do get a chance to discuss and openly ask questions, be prepared, and seize the opportunity. Openness and clear communication are key to having a healthy, efficient, and productive work environment.

There are many more skills to learn out there, but these were the most relevant ones in my opinion that helped me navigate the work environment in a foreign country, which I believe applies generally across different professional fields. Let us know in the comments what are some of the skills you recommend for easing the work nerves of young professionals!


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