Hard work spotlights the character of people:
some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses,
and some don’t turn up at all.
~ Sam Ewing, American Writer and Humorist (1920-2001)
You did it! You’ve been hired and you’re starting your new job. Congratulations! You’ve reached the end of your job search and now you’re beginning another journey – one in which you must remain sharp and professional to achieve job and career success.
Following are a dozen tips to help you make a soft landing upon your entry into the new workplace (I’ll be elaborating on these tips in the coming weeks):
1. Be Punctual and Thoughtful
Arrive early on your first day and everyday thereafter. Be on time for meetings. Attendance and punctuality will establish you as dependable and trustworthy and set the stage and tone for your relationships. Park in designated areas and don’t take anyone else’s parking space!
2. Dress Professionally and Appropriately for the Position
By now you’ve determined the dress code and practice. Dress professionally and neatly whether you’re in a business formal, business casual or very casual environment. Practice good grooming so you’re pleasant to be around!
3. Continue to Practice Business Etiquette and Protocol
Remember the business etiquette and protocol training you practiced during your job search and continue to demonstrate your professional polish. Respect titles, positions and time. Show deference to your coworkers. You’re the new kid on the block, so listen more than talk while you learn the ropes. Be kind and helpful to everyone, especially your manager’s assistant and the entire administrative staff (you’ll thank me later!). You’ll be judged more on your attitude than your aptitude in the beginning.
4. Be Prepared to Hit the Ground Running
Your first week involves getting your feet wet; you’ll be a sponge soaking up information and instructions. But sometimes things move fast, and you might be called upon to jump right into a project or solve a problem. Even if you feel you’re not ready, be prepared to run with an assignment. Ask questions. Take notes. Observe others. Do your stuff.
5. Exhibit Enthusiasm and Interest with Dignity
You should express your enthusiasm and interest in your new job! However, avoid being too talky or giggly, or interrupting when others are speaking. Maintain your professionalism and dignity.
6. Learn the Rules of the Workplace
If you’ve not been briefed on the rules regarding supplies (where they’re kept, how to order, etc.), the kitchen (if there is one), including use of the refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and so on (the kitchen protocol can be very tricky, as I’ll address later), lunch hours, and general office practices and protocol, do ask. Following the rules to the letter when you’re a newbie – no matter what your position is – will endear you to the staff; and that will make your manager happy and your job easier.
7. Observe and Master the Political Lay of the Land
This is a biggie. Company and office politics are a fact of life. Knowing who’s who and carefully observing who has the power and authority, who are the bullies, what the role of HR is (it can vary among companies) and getting a bead on the different personalities will help you to navigate your particular organization with prowess and savvy. Hang back and study your surroundings for the first weeks and months until you get your sea legs.
8. Read and Learn
You’ll be spending your first weeks learning new systems and software, reviewing relevant reports, your area’s local procedures and operational instructions and being briefed on the responsibilities of your particular position. But also find time to read the company policy manual, code of conduct, your area’s local procedures, company newsletters and other publications; trust me, this information will arm you with knowledge that will make you extremely valuable and respected (provided you use it to be helpful and not behave like a know-it-all).
9. Get Involved
Once you’ve got your job and the lay of the land down, start getting involved with the company’s employee engagement activities, affinity groups and / or community partnership projects. Join a committee or volunteer to help with an undertaking or event. These are excellent ways to network within your organization and learn how it operates on different levels.
10. Access Company Benefits that You Need Now
In all the excitement and rush of starting a new job don’t forget to sign up for or otherwise activate important benefits, including health insurance, 401K participation, commutation discounts, tuition reimbursement and the like. Sign up for perks such as gym membership or health and self-improvement programs such as Weight Watchers or Smoke Enders (some companies offer such programs at no charge or for a reduced fee).
11. Complete Required Training Promptly
Some industries and companies require certain training to help employees spot illegal activity, prepare for disasters, ensure that they are able to use required technology and understand company policies and codes of conduct, etc. Usually there are deadlines for new employees to complete such training: if so, register and attend ASAP.
12. Address Essential Administrative Tasks Immediately
There are always administrative tasks that must be addressed immediately, such as ordering business cards, filling out forms and gaining the appropriate approvals for signing authority, establishing accounts for travel and expense reporting, establishing user IDs and passwords to log-on to various systems, etc. These must be taken care of promptly to enable you to conduct business and complete tasks efficiently .
Following these tips will get you off to an impressive start. Join me next week as we begin to explore these topics in more detail.
Until next time,