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Your First Year At Work: A Survival Guide By Shelagh Foster (MacMillan BookStorm)

Last update - Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 11:19 By Sergio Angulo Bujanda

  Jonathan Jansen, vice-chancellor and rector at the University of the Free State in South Africa, said about Your First Year at Work that he wished “this book was around when I first entered the job market in my late teens”.

I’d be willing to further that statement, as this guide is surely helpful not only in terms of getting a first job and mitigating that post-academia shock, but also as a reference book for use throughout one’s entire career.

Shelagh Foster’s book is well structured into 10 chapters providing advice and tips on a wide range of topics such as business writing and etiquette, interview skills, email and internet usage, and communications skills both verbal and non-verbal. She approaches these different areas in a very practical manner, providing the whys and wherefores for every issue, with examples based on real cases.

The first and last chapters, ‘The Power of Communication’ and ‘Why Do We Work?’ are particularly inspirational and motivating, encouraging the optimism and self-confidence needed to face any new job or a prospective career challenge.

As well as a focus on positivity and confidence, the style of the book is approached in such a maternal and caring manner that it might seem Foster – a communications expert with more than 20 year of experience in the sector – steps right out of the book to help the reader personally. As the book progresses, she accompanies the reader through every stage of the process, imparting advice on how to adapt to new scenarios and practices.

From a multicultural point of view, this guide is also very helpful for non-natives trying to access the job market of any English-speaking country, with tips on English for business purposes and social behaviour at work.


Although it is presented as a guide aimed for graduates, I would argue it’s a major work on efficient business communication for anyone, newcomer or veteran, who wants to improve their communication skills to progress in their career. It’s easy to read, direct and to the point as well as inspiring and motivating, and comes strongly recommended. 

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