After rounds and rounds of interviews, you've finally signed the papers and landed the job—hooray! But don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet—the trial period has just begun.
All eyes are on you as a new employee, so you want to pay extra attention to the way you present yourself to your manager and colleagues during your first months at the office. In fact, how you come across right out of the gate can play a part in how you're treated and whether or not you're considered promotion later on, says Brandi Britton, district president for Office Team, an administrative staffing company. "First impressions make long-term lasting impressions," she explains. "If you make a great first impression and you make mistakes down the road, people are more likely to forgive you. It is harder to overcome when you start off on the wrong foot and then make yourself look better later on." To help you get off to a fabulous start, she shares what to do when at the start of a new job.
Use the first month or so at your new company to get a feel for your organization's culture to assess what you need to do to fit in, in the best sense of the term. Observe how people behave, dress and interact (for example, whether they prefer communicating via text, phone or face-to-face), and model your behavior, dress and interactions accordingly. For example, if other working parents at your company normally take calls from their family while at their desk, it may be OK for you to do the same, but if you're unsure, have a talk with your boss about it.
There's one exception, however, and that's timeliness. Even if you are at a relaxed workplace and see colleagues arriving late and leaving early, as a new employee, you always want to be on time. "In your first month, you need to adhere to your original time schedule. You don’t need to be there till the lights go off, but don’t be the first one out the door either," Britton suggests.
Though you may think you have a good idea of your job duties and expectations, it's wise to talk to your boss about them anyway in case you're missing something. Doing this confirms with your manager what your to-do list should look like and also shows that you're eager to do your job well.
Unless you happen to know someone at your new job, chances are, you'll have to start from scratch when building relationships with everyone—which can be intimidating. Don't hold off on socializing though, since making work alliances is better done sooner than later. "It's important to get that internal network going very early in," says Britton. If you run across someone in the kitchen or hallway, introduce yourself. The office kitchen is a particularly good place to socialize, since it's a more casual environment and where people are already comfortable because they're not focused on work. You could even ask a colleague out to lunch, or try Britton's clever technique for promoting office chat: having a candy dish at your desk, which seems likely to attract all kinds of co-workers.
In addition to knowing what work you're supposed to be doing, you also want confirmation that you're doing a good job so you can start feeling more comfortable. At your first meeting with your boss when you're setting expectations, schedule some time to receive feedback as well, Britton suggests. To avoid over-scheduling these meetings, (too many make you appear like you're unconfident with your work), have your boss determine how often he or she would like you to solicit feedback.
Once you get a better idea of your day-to-day workload, develop a routine or system. This even goes for your desk. By keeping your desk organized, you'll have an easier time locating things and you'll project a professional image to your managers. Even though there are varying schools of thought about this, a cluttered desk doesn't exactly scream efficient to many people. Overall, says Britton, "your ability to do your work effectively will come down to how well you understand the job and how organized you are."
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