Ten Tips for Starting Your New Job
Maybe it’s time for a change. Maybe when you get up to go to work, you dread it. And on the way there, you find yourself hoping for a flat tire just so you have an excuse to stay away from your desk a little longer. Or, if you have to deal with your boss melting down one more time, you will scream. At the end of the day, the only thing you can think about is how to forget everything from the day at work.
You’re not alone if you’re not happy with your job. Two-thirds of Americans don’t like the job they have, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you do search for and accept a new position, the challenge is not over. Twenty-five percent of all new hires do not survive their first year, according to The Employment Policy Foundation.
Use these ten tips to beat the odds and to be successful in your new position.
1. Make a good first impression. The first impression you make on your co-workers will be a hard one to shake. Make it the best you can by keeping your office door open to meet people who may stop by to see who’s new to the team. If your boss doesn’t take you around to everyone for introductions on the first or second day, be sure and ask if he or she could do this for you, or go ahead and go on your own and introduce yourself.
2. Take a notebook and pen everywhere. Even if you’re just going down the hall to ask someone a quick question, have something to take notes on. Unintended hallway meetings happen, and decisions on projects can be made after fellow employees run into each other on the way back from the bathroom. This way you won’t forget anything you are asked.
3. Don’t take part in gossip. Your coworkers may start discussing the person you replaced, or about your boss, or any number of rumors. Just smile, try not to ask any follow-up questions (no matter how curious you are) — it isn’t your business, after all — and try to turn the conversation back to work. It’s about etiquette, but it’s also good sense — you don’t know the relationship dynamics within this new office, and your boss could be good friends with the person being discussed.
4. Keep track of what you work on, especially your successes. You will at some point have a job review where you may be hoping for a salary increase. Being able to tell your supervisor exactly what positive impact you are having is invaluable. Keep track of measurable success. For example, if you’ve been using your knowledge to make the company’s retail catalog better, and sales have gone up 15 percent, shout it from the rooftops! (Or at least keep it in the notebook for later referral.)
Praise and appreciation from your coworkers is good to archive and point out to your superiors, and a lot of this praise will be sent to you in email. Put a folder somewhere on your computer to store all of the kudos you receive, so you’ll have it ready for your job review. Keeping these emails also serves as an archive of the projects you worked on. Although they seem fresh when you finish them, you’ll forget a lot of them when review time rolls around.
5. Communicate. Listen more than you talk, and accept help from others. During your first few weeks, people may offer to help you with learning the ropes, and it’s good to ask them questions. Trying to do everything on your own is good, but refusing an offer from someone who is taking time to help you out may make others think you are unapproachable or not interested in being part of the team.
Try not to point out that the way your new company does something is not the same way they did it at your old job. People will wonder why you didn’t just stay there if you liked it so much. This is a big tip! It is easy to compare, but after a while, it just gets annoying to those around you.
If you have people working under your supervision, assess what communication needs there are and craft a plan to address them. For example, if there are long-term projects hard to understand at the status of at a glance, institute once-weekly meetings with the entire team or one-on-one. Stick to your communication schedule and give it the time it deserves, or no one else will take it seriously.
6. Be sure of your goals. If you have a supervisor, work with him or her to define exactly what it is you should be doing. Your job description is a detailed document you need to keep somewhere handy. But, keep in mind, the description may have been copied from something written years ago that no one has ever updated. Make sure your responsibilities are clearly explained before a crisis happens. Set goals in six-month intervals, or a time limit appropriate for your job.
7. Volunteer for the project that comes along suddenly which shakes up the typical scheduling. It is a great way to solidify your standing in the team while showing what you are capable of doing and what kind of employee you are. But make sure your regular work is completed on deadline and you can handle the additional work. It will only make you look worse when this project isn’t completed well and on time.
8. Use basic computer etiquette. Proofread your emails to avoid typos. Forward with care — be sure you’re not unknowingly sending a client another coworker’s rant on how difficult they are to work with. (Read the whole email before forwarding.)
File names or subject lines should be appropriate. If you are sick of working on a file, don’t name it something out of frustration like ‘stupidreport’ or worse, curse words. Although you can change the file name later before sending out, this information may stay in the properties of the file where clients could see it.
In addition, take the company’s technology policy seriously and know whether or not it’s okay to install iTunes or other programs you are accustomed to using at home or in your previous position. You should also be careful if you have a blog. Precedent exists for people to be fired because of what they said in their blog. This goes for both personal and professional blogs. Consider carefully what you write and be aware if your post could end up being your own grounds for dismissal.
9. Assess the employees around you or under you with a non-biased eye. Don’t compare your fellow employees or subordinate ones to people you knew in the past. There are many systems for critically assessing a team new to you, and the company you are working for probably already has one developed. Stick to the measurements and the quantitative data, and not just your first impressions or your own categorizations until you know all the facts.
10. Don’t fall into a continued education black hole. Your field is going to change every year, and it’s up to you to keep informed. Subscribe to the right magazines, sign up for Web site newsletters or feeds, and keep track of the top books within your field.
Along with professional education and networking, it is important to know what is going on in the world. Globalization is a big part of business. Employers want people who are aware of current events throughout the world, or at least in regions specifically important to your business. For example, did you know in 1999 a new province was created in Canada called Nunavut? Or recently Australian foreign affairs officials warned of an imminent terrorist threat in Indonesia, and advised against travel there? If your company had interests in these regions, it would be essential you knew this information ahead of time.
Women secured a little more than half of the new jobs created this decade, especially in high-paying positions, according to the Wall Street Journal. Many industries are enjoying growth, and with this growth comes new job openings, which creates exciting opportunities.