So you’ve hit the pavement and found a job that’s caught your eye. After several rounds of interviews and an assignment or two, you’ve been made an offer that you want to take. While it’s only natural to bask in the glory of landing a new job and hopefully bringing home a little bit more bacon, it’s also only natural to feel a little nervous about starting a new gig. Particularly if you were at your old company for years, the prospect of starting a new job can be really frightening. Regardless of how much you may have disliked your previous company, there was something comforting about walking into the same office, around the same people, doing more or less the same work. At the end of the day, whether you loved your job or hated it, you knew what to expect and that wasn’t a bad thing.
But now, it’s a new day. You’re walking into an environment that’s really unfamiliar. Sure, you’ll see the faces of people you interviewed with and that’ll be nice. But more than likely they’re probably managers and you won’t really be working with them all that closely. Sure you’ll recognize the office that you’ve visited a handful of times, but you won’t really know your way around it. Where’s the ladies room? Where’s the kitchen? All those little things you take for granted after you’ve worked at a place for a while will definitely become apparent when you start your new position.
And while it may seem like we’re painting starting a new job in a somewhat negative, even scary light, we certainly are not. What we want to do is paint as realistic of a portrait as possible to ensure that come Day 1, you are ready and able to make an incredible first impression to your new colleagues. So the question is, despite being a bit of a fish out of water, how can you ensure that you start off on the right foot and line yourself up for success? Well, we’ve got a few pieces of advice for you:
Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open: As much as you may want to come out guns blazing to show management and your new colleagues how awesome you are and how poised for greatness your career is, sometimes it’s most valuable to sit back a bit and observe. It’s amazing just how much information you’re able to cull just by observing office dynamics and trying to get a lay of the land the first few days. You can easily get a sense of who likes who, which team members actually know what they’re doing and which don’t, as well as who might be a good ally for you down the line. That’s not to say you shouldn’t try and showcase how you plan to be a valuable member of the larger team and ultimately how much of a boss you’re going to morph into, but it’s also important to position yourself as someone who is able to learn from others and defer to the advice of those who have some seniority. In a less delicate way, that’s to say that people love to hear themselves talk and giving them the opportunity to do so will make them feel comfortable with you and not threatened that you’re going to try and steal their thunder. Whatever people say, there is no doubt that when a shiny, new toy comes to the office there is concern that they might make existing employees look a little less great. Even if you’re hoping to rise above the pack and continue your ascent to the top, it’s important to not make that plan abundantly apparent when you start.
Ask Questions … A Lot Of Them: Starting a new job kind of feels like grade school: Participation and asking questions are always good things. Now, don’t be that person who asks a question just for the sake of asking a question. It’ll become abundantly apparent to your coworkers that you’re just trying to suck up. However, when we suggest asking questions we mean it. When starting a new job, it’s easy to assume that things are just how they were in your previous job stops. But, often times, they’re not. And in a professional landscape in which everyone is struggling to keep their jobs and move up the ladder, it’s important to learn your new gig as quickly and efficiently as possible. So don’t be bashful about asking questions of your managers and co-workers. They’ll appreciate your interest in learning the ins and outs of your job and, much like above, everyone likes to feel as if they are knowledgeable and able to teach the “new person.” Giving them the chance to teach you something will make them feel good and give you the information that you need to start showing off your skills.
Meet As Many People As Possible: If you’re starting a new job, there is no doubt that you’ll be subject to the requisite trot around the office for the quick meet and greets. “Hi So and So, This Is So and So” doesn’t exactly do a whole lot to help you on your way to making a good first impression. Those introductions are so empty that they are easily forgotten within a few minutes. However, making the effort to independently meet as many people as possible during the first few weeks of starting a new job is a great way to make a good first impression. Try to meet not only the people that you will work with on a daily basis but also those in other departments that you might cross paths with. Ultimately building these pleasant exchanges will make your job a lot easier when you have to go to these folks for projects and will allow them to be more inclined to help you.
Be Overly Professional: This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s still worth re-iterating. Being on time, leaving after your manager leaves, dressing the part (and maybe a little above the part) and treating every assignment you’re given as it’s the most important task of your life will go a very long way to setting yourself off on the right foot. Also, try to find opportunities to go a little above and beyond or to take on tasks that might not be the most fun. Showing a willingness to “take one for the team” or put in the extra work will not only make your managers take notice, but will also curry some favor among your co-workers when they see your willingness to be a team player. And last, but certainly not least, be sure that you are always prepared. It’s fine to not know every little detail of your new job, but be sure that you are as prepared as possible for every meeting and every assignment. Your willingness to really show up and be engaged will speak volumes as you embark on your new gig.