5 Best Practices to Get You Ahead of the Game at Your New Job
You did it! You’ve landed that awesome position, finally finished all of your on-boarding paper work, moved into your new apartment, and now you’re eagerly sitting at your new desk, flying through whatever trainings that have been put in front of you so you can finally get to work!
Hold on a second though, friend. Not so fast! While you may feel like this “training period” (and trust me, almost everyone goes through one) is slow and frustrating, it’s actually one of your best opportunities to start off on the right foot, so to speak. And I don’t just mean by diligently working on whatever is put in front of you; that, obviously, is a given.
Your first week on the job is one of the most crucial points in your new career to make a name for yourself in the office. It’s all about first impressions, which you only get one chance to make! So make sure you’re putting your best foot forward and presenting yourself as you want to be seen right from the beginning. This will be the first time pretty much everyone you work with will be meeting you, and as much as we tell ourselves not to judge a book by its cover, we say it because we humans are visual people and tend to make snap judgments about a person based off of how we first see them or the context in which we first meet them!
1. Dress a step above the expectation.
This doesn’t mean that you show up in a full evening gown or as formal of business attire as you own right off the bat; after all, you don’t want to go too overboard. But dressing just one step above your office’s standard attire is a fantastic way to show that you’re taking your new position seriously.
Taking this extra step also ensures that you don’t commit the very serious faux-pas of showing up to work in inappropriate attire, especially if the level of your office’s work attire isn’t clear. For instance, my office advertises itself as “jeans-friendly business casual,” meaning that we can wear dark-wash, non-ripped jeans in addition to our business casual attire. Now that I’ve been working here for a few months I know exactly what that means, but when I first started? I had no clue if anyone in my office wore jeans on a regular basis even though it was allowed and if I would look extremely out of place if I showed up in a pair.
So what did I do? For the first few weeks of work, I didn’t wear jeans once. I wore skirts, dress slacks, blouses, and blazers because it was what I was comfortable wearing, was more than appropriate (and, in general, a step more professional that how others dressed) for the workplace, and generally matched what the level of professional that my managers would dress to.
Dressing above expectations for the first week or so allows you to leave anyone you meet with a good first impression while also allowing you to scope out the “standard” dress for your office and adjust in the future!
2. Work diligently and steadily on the work that you’ve been assigned.
Sounds like common sense, right?
The training work that you’ve been assigned during your first week or two on the job will be your first big test. Not in the literal sense, but this will be the first demonstration you give your supervisors, managers, and clients of your work ethic and what they can expect from you once you actually start the work you’ve been hired for. You may be tempted to rush through your trainings so that you can get to working faster, or slack off because you know you’ll be able to finish your work quickly later, but don’t let yourself fall into either of these traps now! You’ll only start to form bad habits which will affect you in the future.
Chances are you’re not the first person going through this training process, and you certainly won’t be the last. Your employers know how long it generally takes for a new hire to complete their mandatory trainings (if you’re completing them online, chances are each training has an estimated amount of time it’ll take, too) and will plan out your timeline accordingly.
So don’t attempt to rush or muscle through all of your trainings in the hopes of getting to work faster, especially if it’s at the expense of you retaining the information you’re supposed to be learning. Work diligently and make sure you’re satisfied with your understanding of the information presented to before you move on. And if you’ve done this and still finish early? Great! Ask your supervisor for guidance on what else you can do, but be prepared for the answer to be “I’ll let you know soon.”
I was lucky enough to finish my training early and move on to learn the work I’d actually be doing on the day-to-day soon after, but for some of the other new hires at my company who finished their trainings even faster than I did, this meant that they were sitting around the office doing nothing for over a week. You want to make sure that you’re using your time wisely and effectively during this period not only so you can demonstrate good time management skills, but also so you’re not left with way more down time than your employers could have anticipated.
3. Introduce yourself to everyone and write down their names.
You’re in a new environment and, chances are, the people that you’re working with will be people that you’ve never met before. Depending on how many people had the same start date as you, you may be the only new hire on your team, meaning it will be easy for all of them to learn one name whereas you have to learn all of theirs. Or you may be starting with a lot of different people so everyone involved has to learn a brand new set of names. Daunting, right?
When you meet someone new, introduce yourself to them, and repeat their name back to them so that you have a better chance of remembering it. And when you’re finished with your conversation, don’t just file it away! Make sure to jot down their name and one or two words about what you talked about so you solidify who they are in your mind. When you seem them later on, perhaps not at their desk, it’ll be easier for you to remember their name!
If you’re among a large batch of new hires who all had the same start date, being one of the first people to remember everyone’s name sets you apart from the pack, and also makes both your coworkers and fellow new hires feel like you really care about the conversations that you’ve had with them. Your coworkers are more likely to learn your name faster as well, since we all know that nothing is more embarrassing than someone knowing your name and you not remembering theirs, and no one wants to get caught in that position!
4. Reach out to your recruiter, if you had one, as well as anyone who helped you along in the hiring or on-boarding process.
Your recruiter will have been one of your biggest advocates throughout the entire interviewing and hiring process, and now that you’re a part of the team, they’re also going to want to see you succeed! Shoot them an email or ping them over your office’s instant messaging system and thank them, once again, for all of their help if you haven’t already. They’ll be happy to hear from you and can also act as a point of information or help while you’re first starting out in the office if you have any questions!
Another important person to reach out to would be the person or people who conducted your final interview with the company. Ultimately, this is the person who made the final decision to hire you, and most likely they’re someone of importance in your company. Take this time to shoot them an email to remind them of who you are and thank them again for giving you this opportunity, or pop into their office to briefly thank them in person and have a conversation with them!
You began forming a relationship with your interviewers and recruiters from the moment you became interested in the company and there’s no reason not to continue to develop those relationships now! Your first week on the job is the perfect time to begin transitioning that relationship to reflect your new position as an employee of the company, and it all starts with you.
5. Make it a point to have an in-person conversation with your manager and/or senior manager.
Where I work, I have a supervisor, who is overseen by a manager, who is overseen by a senior manager, who is in charge of our entire project as a whole. Chances are your supervisor isn’t the only person reviewing your work, so make it a point to drop in and introduce yourself to your managers if you haven’t already! In a large company there’s a good chance that names and faces all run together for those further up the totem pole, especially if your share a start date with a lot of other people. Take this time to reacquaint yourself with your management, if you met them at some point in your interview process, or introduce yourself if you haven’t!
This may seem like an unnecessary step, but in reality it couldn’t be more important. Here’s the fact of the matter: you only get one chance to make a first impression, so would you rather take control of that first impression, or leave it up in the air? Taking the time to introduce yourself to your managers, on your own terms, allows you to put your best foot forward and ensure that your managers have an image of you that you want them to have. After all, wouldn’t you rather them see you as an eager, hardworking individual, instead of relying on (sometimes unreliable) secondhand accounts? This way if you accidentally make a mistake within your first few weeks, which will happen to everyone, trust me, it won’t be the first time your managers have heard your name. And if you’re doing amazing and that’s what they’re hearing from the grapevine? They’ll know exactly who they’re hearing about and reinforce that positive first impression!
During my first few weeks on the job I made it a point to reach out to my senior manager, who had been one of my final interviewers and with whom I felt I had instantly connected, to ask if she had a few minutes for me to talk to her in person so that I could personally thank her for bringing me on to this project. She cleared a half hour on her schedule to sit down and ask me how I was settling in, how my experience was with my team, and to let me know how excited she was to be working with me in my career. I left that meeting feeling more excited and motivated to excel in my work than I had before, and I know I left a good impression!
What are your best practices for your first week on the job? Let me know in the comments below and maybe I’ll add them to the list!