Your first day at your new job could determine what the rest of your stay will look like. You’ve got to worry about performing well, learning more names and faces, figuring out the layout of everything, and settling into a new schedule. It can be overwhelming but doesn’t have to be.
After you’ve researched your company and landed the job, it’s time to start on the right foot. Get the most out of your first few days and make a good first impression with these tips. Not only will you lose some of the accompanying stress, you just might end up being more likable as a coworker too!
Define Your Position
The very first thing you should do at a new job is to know your responsibilities. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many new interns, recruits, and workers neglect this critical piece of advice.
When you apply for a job, you’re typically responding to a call-for-work with a job description. However, once you land the job, your actual duties might differ from the initial call. Sometimes you’ll be expected to do more, sometimes less, or more rarely, you’ll find out that your actual job is nothing like what you signed up for.
On your first day — or earlier if you can — make sure you find out and precisely define what your position is and what it entails. Meet with your boss. Meet with your project leaders. Meet with coworkers, even. And every month or so, check in with your superiors to see if you’re in the right track. If you’re straying, readjust.
Set Up Your Workstation
If you’re working an office job, it’s vital that you set up a productive workstation. Something as simple as that could be the difference between an enjoyable job and a miserable one.
Learn the tech usage policies. What’s acceptable at your company? Is it okay to hop on Reddit when you have nothing to do? During your lunch break? Can you plug in your own flash drives of data? What are the rules of Internet use? And where do you go for technical issues?
Every company has its own range of digital devices like scanners, photocopiers, Intranets…etc. It’s always good to keep these in mind and familiarize yourself with the methods of their use.
Don’t forget about posture. Working with computers can shorten your life. Improper computer habits can steal away hours of sleep. If you find yourself tired all the time, it could be due to computer fatigue. Proper workstation setup and computer posture can alleviate, or even eliminate, these real issues.
And lastly, make your space your own. This one depends on the rules of your office – some can be pretty strict about it – but if you can, do inject a bit of personality into your work area. Plants and photos are typical but aren’t the only options. Small details like that can work wonders for morale and energy.
Introduce Yourself and Meet People
If you want to succeed at a company, you have to fit in. That’s not to say that you have to become a mindless lemming, giving up your individuality to serve at the behest of your superiors. However, every company has a culture and the simple fact is this: if they don’t like you, they probably won’t keep you.
Consider it part of your job description to meet the acquaintance of your coworkers. Familiarize yourself with your team – at the very least, the ones you see on a daily basis – and make yourself known without being obnoxious about it. Basically, step outside of your comfort zone and introduce yourself.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Aim for a goal, such as 2 new acquaintances per week, and reach out to them when time allows. Have a small chat over coffee, or even better, treat them to lunch. You don’t have to become best friends with all of them, but it’s important to break the ice as soon as possible.
Be Realistic, Not A Hero
If you’re like me, you likely feel the need to prove yourself to your new coworkers and, more importantly, your boss(es). This might manifest itself in many forms, including but not limited to: overachievement, self-aggrandizement, cutthroat behavior, and even fear of failure. Let all of that go.
Sure, it’s important to make a good first impression by being a diligent worker, but you’re the new kid on the block and you’re walking into an established work atmosphere. Don’t be a hero, at least not right away, else your coworkers may be put off and treat you with disdain. There’s little worse than a new employee who’s all talk and no walk.
On the flipside, keep realistic expectations. Ideally, you would slide into your new role without making any mistakes or disrupting the workflow of your team. Chances are, however, that you will stumble. Perhaps you’ll stumble a lot. Allow yourself some margin for error until you learn the ropes and settle in. It’s natural.
If You Need Help, Get It
Speaking of errors, it’s imperative that you know how to get help, where to get it, and when you should ask for it. When struggling with a new job, you may think it best that you suck it up and try to overcome your problems on your own, but if it results in mistake-riddled work and late deadlines, you’ll just make yourself look worse.
You’re part of a team and your success is an element of the team’s success. If you need help, be humble and ask for it. Even if it means causing some of your coworkers to grumble (which happens less often than you think), it ends up being far better than turning in shoddy work and letting the team down. More than likely, they’ll be happy to help.
In your first week, identify key resources and where to find them. Be eager to learn. Be teachable and open to correction. Be ready to admit mistakes and be even more willing to correct them. Not only will you be quicker to acclimate to your new environment, your coworkers will be more receptive as well.
What are your tips for easing into a new job? Share them with us in the comments below!