Your mom probably told you, “First impressions are lasting impressions.“ And she was right, especially when it comes to a new job.
Question: What’s one job skill that’s essential to career success but difficult to get a lot of practice doing?
Answer: It’s acing the all-important first week. You likely don’t start a new job often enough to get much practice at it. When you do, it pays to think through your approach in advance. For example:
Observe workplace norms, and strive to fit in. Unwritten rules are important. If everyone brings a sack lunch maybe you should too, at least at first, and if everyone shows up for work at the dot of 8 a.m., then you absolutely need to do the same. Later, when you’ve proven yourself, you can start to put your own spin on things.
Steer clear of workplace cliques. It won’t take long for you to identify the people you’re going to want to befriend. Meanwhile, make it a point to be equally nice to everyone. Even if you’re normally more of an introvert, introduce yourself to as many people as possible this first week.
Project an air of accessibility. If someone offers to help you, say yes even if you think you don’t need it. Before you start suggesting changes, first consider that maybe things are being done that way for a reason and look for ways to add value without alienating people who’ve been working there longer than you have. Basically, you want to be seen as a self-starter, while showing willingness to learn.
Take good notes. You’ll be given a lot of new information that first week. Soon, it will all be second nature, but meanwhile, write everything down. You don’t want to have to ask the same questions more than once. In addition, consider your weaknesses. For example, if you have trouble remembering names, it might be worth it to make yourself a little map of the workplace with the names of who works where.
Finally, display the qualities the company hired you for. Remember your job interview, when you talked about your prowess with Excel or your comfort with social media? Look for ways to demonstrate those particular skills right away, so the decision to hire you will look like a good one right from the start. Your new boss wants you to succeed. Confirm that bias.