Here are six ways to sabotage your reputation that you should avoid at all costs.

Share story

“I think I just blew it with my new boss,” moaned a former career-coaching client over the telephone. “I thought I’d given myself enough time to get to my new job, but there was an accident on the freeway blocking traffic. I ended up 40 minutes late to my first day of work and missed the staff meeting where she was supposed to introduce me to the entire department. I could tell from the look on her face how disappointed she was. She probably thinks I’m totally unreliable.”

There are several ways you can inadvertently damage your reputation in a new job. As my former client found out, showing up late on your first day of work is one of them. Here are six ways to sabotage your reputation that you should avoid at all costs:

Show up late on your first day of work. Always give yourself plenty of extra time to get to work during the first few weeks so you can get a feel for traffic patterns and how much time you’ll need.

Wear inappropriate attire. Wearing a dark suit is not a good idea if you were hired at a start-up and everyone wears jeans and T-shirts to work. Similarly, wearing too-casual attire to a company where most employees wear suits won’t work, either. Research the company’s culture and find out from your new manager or HR representative what attire is appropriate.

Most Read Stories

Sale! Save over 90% on digital access.

Refer constantly to how your previous company did things. Avoid saying things like “That’s not how we did it at ABC company,” or “Where I came from, this is how we did it and it worked much better.” These are statements that can make you sound arrogant and unapproachable.

Question the way (and why) things are done. Before sharing your opinions, take the time to understand all angles of a situation and dig deeper by using comments such as “Help me understand how …” and “How does department ABC use this information to …?” How you word things is just as important as the questions you ask, so think before you speak.

Ask for time off. Many hiring managers have expressed their frustrations of new employees blindsiding them with time-off requests. If you receive a job offer in May and your family already has vacation plans scheduled for June, let the hiring manager know immediately (before you begin your new job) and proactively work with him or her to ensure that your vacation will not disrupt productivity.

Spend time gossiping to get the dirt on people. Everyone wants to get to know the people in their new company as quickly as possible — but don’t spend time finding out through the gossip grapevine around the water cooler or break room. Get to know colleagues firsthand and form your own opinions.

As my client found out, it can be fairly easy to damage your reputation in a new job. And once it’s damaged, it can take time and effort to repair it. Be aware of the ways you can harm your reputation when starting a new job — and take care to avoid them.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at