Starting a New Job? 6 Tips for Maneuvering through the First Week
Starting a new job can be exciting, overwhelming, and nerve-wracking all rolled into one. Whether your new position is a lateral career move or a move up the corporate ladder, there’s a lot to learn – and a lot to prove.
The first three months on the job generally serve as an extension of the interview, with your first week particularly crucial for making the best first impression on your new colleagues and boss. Here are six tips to help you do exactly that.
Dress the Part
“Dress for the job you want,” is something you may have heard before, but the essential rule is to at least dress for the job you hold. How you walk in the door on that first day will set a standard of how you want to be seen going forward.
Consult your boss, hiring manager, or employee handbook about the dress code policy. Get a feel for the company culture. Dress on the conservative side for the first day to avoid one of the greatest new hire mistakes – showing up underdressed.
From the receptionist to the coworkers you run across in the kitchen, it’s important to introduce yourself to everyone you encounter. You’re entering a world where everyone has worked at the company longer than you by months, years, or even decades. They’re already familiar with each other, and now it’s your job to make sure they’re familiar with you.
Not only will freely introducing yourself help people attach a face to a name, but it shows how friendly and excited you are to be working for your new company. It’s also the first step in establishing a good working relationship with the rest of the crew.
If your company uses personality assessments such as The Birkman Method during the onboarding process, keep your personality strengths and Stress Behavior in mind as you work closely with other team members so that you make a strong first impression. As you begin working, note areas of your job that you find exciting or challenging and share that information with others, particularly your manager.
Everything is going to be foreign at a new company, from the kitchen’s location to the process for approvals. And no matter how engrained your previous job’s procedures or systems may be in your brain, it’s important to keep an open mind when starting something new.
Approach each new encounter with unfamiliar territory with a willingness to listen and learn; find out why this new company does things the way they do. While you may eventually want to introduce new ideas into the fold, you don’t want to lead off with them. Nor do you want to be the new employee who consistently refers to “how things were done at my old job.”
Begin a Routine
With the deluge of new information and overall new-job busyness, things can easily get missed during your first week. Ensure nothing gets forgotten by setting an organized and efficient routine for your new position. Keeping notes in a master notebook is always a good idea during the first week, as is setting a routine for what your workday will look like. How often will you check emails? Which tasks should be done in the morning, afternoon, or right before leaving?
You’ll also need a new routine when it comes to your commute, your at-work meals, and any pre- or post-work responsibilities you need to meet. Become familiar with the area around your new job, looking for things like the nearest gas station, local coffee shop, pharmacy, and lunch spots. Plan for what you can ahead of time and adjust as needed.
Speak Up and Ask Questions
Just because you’re new and unfamiliar with everything doesn’t mean you should blend into the woodwork when it comes to speaking up and asking questions. This applies to everything from presenting an idea or solution during a meeting to asking where to find the paper clips.
Speaking up helps people start to recognize and trust you. Depending on your role within the company, it can also help your job. If you’re in a managerial position, for instance, asking people what they like and dislike about specific processes can help you define change, along with ways to get there.
Set Expectations – Define Success
While simply getting through the first week can feel like a major success, it’s not the end-all for everything you want to accomplish. Make it your goal to define what success looks like for you on the job. Consider writing out your goals for a month, three months, six months, and a year into your new position.
Meet with your boss to discuss what your success within the company looks like. Meet with your team to outline what success looks like for them. Make sure you clearly define expectations, timeframes, concrete goals, and the work that needs to be done to achieve them.
One last thing to remember during your first week on the job is that you were offered the position for a reason. You obviously wowed the company at your interview, and you can do the same during your first week. Your first week is your first chance to reinforce the idea that the company made the right decision by taking you on board. Kick it off by first doing your needed homework and then showing up equipped with the right attitude, organizational skills, and enthusiasm to get your new job done.