Things I wish I knew before starting my first job

You’ve received your first job offer... Now what?
Starting your first job is one of the most exciting chapters of your career. And yes, it can feel quite daunting too. Worry not, here are some tried and tested tips to help you navigate your way into your new role and office like a pro.

Congratulations! You’ve received your first job offer… Now what?

Kickstarting your career is a significant milestone. Luckily, there are several things you can do to prepare for it. Get an edge by starting early and find ways to be work-ready, such as engaging in practical training opportunities, or participating in one of the programs offered by Misk for university students. If you’re already starting your first job, here are a few things you can do to make it an insightful and rewarding experience:


First things first, read the fine print

The first thing you’ll receive once you have been actually hired is a formal job offer. In some cases, your new employer may also send your contract for review. And indeed, as with any legally binding agreement, you should take the time to understand the terms, negotiate if you think it’s necessary, and ask questions if something is not clear to you. 

Under the Labor Law, there are standard terms that should be in your contract:

As an employee, your employer should register you for your GOSI (General Organization for Social Insurance). This is necessary for you to receive your insurance benefits and pension. Also, as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to improve transparency, wage protection, oversight, and mobility in the private sector, the Ministry of Human Resources has introduced a labor reform requiring employers to upload e-contracts through GOSI for new employees.

Company policies differ from one to another, and you’re likely to sign or acknowledge them alongside your employment contract. These are some policies you may come across:

  1. Moonlighting Policy – Important to know if you’re planning on having a side hustle (having a part-time job, having a business, freelancing, etc.)

  2. Non-Compete Clause.

  3. Non-Disclosure Agreement.

  4. Intellectual Property Rights.


On-boarding and “your first day”

The reality is, larger companies are more likely to have an on-boarding process to ease employees into the workplace. In contrast, others would have a more “shadow us” or jump-right-into-it approach. 

Is your mirzam on point? Ask your recruitment officer if there’s a particular dress code to follow so you don’t show up looking out of place on your first day. In most corporate offices, it’s best to show up in your pressed thobe or abaya. Creative work environments and startups may have a more casual approach. Either way, don’t show up looking like you rolled out of bed.


Your first couple of weeks will involve a lot of observing. You’ll get a feel of the work culture and learn the house rules in the office. It’s also a time to get to know your colleagues and vice versa. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

When you don’t know something, ask, and prepare some practical or technical questions for your manager and colleagues ahead of time. You’re not expected to know everything from day one. Show enthusiasm. Your colleagues will be looking at your attitude and work ethics at this stage before they get a chance to evaluate your skills. Take the initiative to know your co-workers and the ins and outs of the work and company. Volunteer for tasks, not only does it show you’re a team player but also lets you break the ice.

Observe and absorb as much as you can. Read cues on when to approach people. Watch how the workplace gets things done. Pay extra attention to details, how to pronounce and spell people’s names, organize documents and how meetings are run. Take notes while you’re at it. 

Understand your role and how it fits within the bigger picture. Taking an interest in the organization’s overall setup and the workflow will help you do your job more effectively and open growth opportunities later on. 


You got this!


Settling in… Three months later.

Before you know it, you’ve finished the probationary period. At this stage, you would understand your role, figured out the office hierarchy (both official and otherwise), and found your place within the organization. 

In some cases, this comes with a realization that your job description differs from reality. Roles do evolve in the workplace. In most companies, you’ll be due for an evaluation session. If not, you can always ask for a conversation. It’s okay to speak to your manager or HR to update your current post and workload, or perhaps note areas where you think you would be able to best apply yourself moving forward.

Your first job can solidify the path you want to take professionally. Or, you may realize that this is more of a short-term detour to where you really want to go. Either way, make the most out of it. Even the most random role can teach you something and you’ll be surprised how many transferable skills you can gain that will make you ready for the next step in your career.



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