New Gig, New You! The Do’s and Don’ts When Starting a New Job
Five months ago I got a call to stop by my HR representatives office. “Uh oh,” I thought immediately, “this can’t be good.” After almost 12 years of doing a job that I absolutely loved, I was told that my position was being eliminated – no fault of my own, nothing personal, just a business decision. Suddenly, myself and six other people in my department were out of a job. The comfy and promising position that I moved to New York City for that had been so good to me all these years, seen me marry the love of my life and even birth a child, was now gone.
Four months and an aced interview later, I’m employed at a new, amazing company. While I am totally grateful and excited, starting all over again at a new job can be extremely daunting. Not only do you have to adjust to new people, comprehend a new corporate culture, but sometimes you may even have to learn new skills that may leave you feeling completely overwhelmed.
As most know, the first 90 days are crucial in determining if you have what it takes to cut it in your new position. While every job is different and personalities vary, I’ve adopted these do’s and dont’s to help me successfully navigate my new job so I can eventually become an old pro in a new gig.
Do: Adopt the company culture
While some companies are very casual and laid back, others can be very conservative. Therefore, you should be sure to be very observant of the environment around you. Are most people dressed up, down or in between? Until you’ve been there for a while, it’s best to come to work dressed appropriately and professionally – even if everyone else is wearing jeans. When you look the part, people perceive you as efficient and reliable. If you dress inappropriately or sloppily, you could give the impression that you’re disorganized and perhaps untrustworthy.
Company culture also pertains to office politics and gossip. At all costs, avoid it when possible. It’s inevitable that you’ll be exposed to it, but in the beginning you should steer clear of it all. You don’t want to get a reputation for being a busy-body or being messy from the very beginning. Pay attention to the environment around you and adapt. You can still be a standout while blending in with the corporate environment.
Do: Ask questions
If you don’t know how to tackle a new project or if you need clarity in any area, speak up and ask for help! There is nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t know the answer or are not clear on something. If anything, asking questions shows that you’re willing to learn and want to make sure that you pay attention to detail. Asking questions can keep you from making mistakes that could have otherwise made you look incompetent. Be sure to listen and always take notes.
From VP’s to security guards, introduce yourself to everyone and learn names quickly! Walk around and let people see your face. Accept lunch invitations or extend them, especially to folks that you’ve identified as key players in the company you can learn from or who can become mentors. Also, remember that information and alliances can come from anywhere. Therefore, it’s necessary to make sure you’re friendly with security, the cleaning crew, the receptionists and executive assistants. These people – no matter how small or significant the position – can be the gatekeepers to helpful information that can aid you get a leg up in your current position. Be seen and network!
Do: Be on time (And stay late)
You can’t be the new girl strolling in late and leaving early after just a few days or weeks on the job. You want to show your strong work ethic upfront, so don’t make the higher-ups feel like they made a mistake in hiring you because you’re never anywhere to be found. By being the first in the office and one of the last one to leave, you’re showing dedication. And be sure not to take any days off in the first 90 days if you can help it. If you or your child fall sick or there’s an emergency, then there’s clearly nothing you can do about that. Even still, don’t request a day off for pleasure like a trip to the beach. Cement yourself as a superstar in your new position first before vacationing, unless you already had one scheduled prior to your start and your supervisors are already aware of it.
Do: Be a team player
Your job is to learn as much as possible and the best way to do that is to build relationships. The best way to master the aforementioned is by being friendly, open and engaging. Don’t do too much talking about yourself that you alienate potential allies. Your job is to let them know they can rely on you and that you’re loyal team member. Always work to solve problems with your coworkers whenever possible, and be sure to give props when you all share a success.
Don’t: Keep bringing up your old job
Bragging about how you awesome you were at your last job is a sure-fire way to put people off. Honestly, no one cares about where you came from. What they do care about is your contributions to the team and company. At the end of the day, you’re not at your old job anymore, so let it go. While it’s great to contribute new ideas and share experiences, don’t bring up your old job unless specifically asked you what skill set you can bring from your previous position or what best practices or policies your new team can adopt.
Don’t: Conduct personal business all day
It’s understandable that you may need to call your doctor to make an appointment or schedule your car to be serviced on company time since you’re in the office all day. However, when it comes to checking your personal email or social media, step outside on your lunch break or save it for when you get home. You don’t know if HR is monitoring you to see how productive you are, so exercise caution. Use your personal cell phone for social media instead of the office computer, and be careful what you post and which friend requests you accept. If you accept friend requests from colleagues on a site other than LinkedIn, be careful when posting about politics, religion or any other polarizing topic that could get you ostracized (or fired) at work.
Don’t: Being closed-minded
Be open to trying different approaches to a project, whether it be best practices or new ideas. Don’t assume that your way is the best way, especially when coming into an already established work environment. Take advice from others and don’t assume you have all the answers, even if they did hire you to solve a problem or to establish new policies. Take input from your team, listen, learn and then try to change the world!
Don’t: Try to do everything at once
Everyone understands that you’re new and that you’re learning, so it’s best to take your time when taking on new projects to make sure that you’re doing your work properly. Do what you say you will, but if you can’t complete a project by a certain deadline, then say so and try to manage expectations so you don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Rely on your teammates to help you while you transition so that you don’t stress yourself out.
Give yourself permission to relax and enjoy learning your new job. Sure, the first three months are crucial, but stressing yourself out to the point where you burn out quickly and have nothing left to give is not a good strategy either. While it’s good to hit the ground running, realize that for most people it takes time to get up to speed on a new job to the point where you feel you can let your guard down. Go a little easy on yourself and set small goals each day. Before you know it, you’ll be an old pro.