Starting a new job is exciting, but also sometimes a trying time. The first few months in a new role are critical, and making a great impression is key. Some of these tips for starting a new job below may seem like common sense, but as recruiters, we at Goodwin Recruiting have seen people make a wide variety of missteps due to nerves or uncertainty, so make sure to think through all of these tips, even if they seem obvious.
Tips for your first day of work and beyond:
1. Be on your best behavior.
When you interviewed, you put your best foot forward. Continue to do so, whether you are in training for a period of time or if you are hitting the ground running in your new role. Remember that you are the new guy or girl, and you are there to learn so that you can grow in your new career. Set the tone on day one, as you will be under a microscope by both your boss and co-workers for the next 60-90 days.
2. Be kind to everyone.
New job jitters can make us uncomfortable or come across as shy. But a good first impression is worth stepping out of your comfort zone. Shake hands, be friendly and personable, introduce yourself to every employee you meet, no matter their title or role.
Pay attention to your tone and body language. You want to present yourself as sharp, energetic, and a likable new person on the team, just like you were in the interview process. Offer to help beyond your area and work outside your element and make sure you build relationships during your first few weeks and months.
3. Ask a lot of questions.
This shows you are interested in learning their way. Be a sponge in training. Have the ability to take notes. Keep a pen and note cards with you at all times. Jot down tasks given to you, things you may have noticed, something you may not understand, or something/someone who deserves praise. Revisit these notes every day with the training manager, and do not be afraid to ask questions. It is much better to ask and ask again early on in your new job, rather than being forced to ask something simple once you’re already six months in!
4. Learn the WHY.
Don’t make judgments until you have learned why your new employer does things the way they do. Successful companies have a formula that works — that’s why they succeed. Be open-minded. Don’t make references to your previous jobs, saying, “We used to do things this way.” There’s a right time to provide your input and influence, and that is after training is completed.
5. Be on time, fifteen minutes early.
Your very first day of work is vitally important, but so are the weeks that follow. Showing up late means that the job is not important. Being on time or early is an easy way to show your new employer that you are there to succeed. Make sure you’re aware of commute times and rush hour impacts. Don’t be afraid to stay later than expected at a new job to show your commitment, and be sure you put in a focused effort each and every day.
6. Be hyper-aware of appropriate workplace behavior.
Remember inappropriate comments, hugging, and touching one another, even if it is with good intentions, will not be tolerated by employers. New laws regarding sexual harassment and behavior are clear and to the point. If you have any questions about it, call your recruiter for advice. Be aware of whom you associate yourself with. Don’t affiliate with others who complain or gossip. Surround yourself with the key employees and superstar staff and associate yourself with the people positively impacting the business.
7. Thank the person who hired you.
If you didn’t send the handwritten note before, and even if you did, send one to the hiring manager and the managers that took the time to give you this great opportunity. This goes a long way and separates you from the rest of the new employees.
8. Do not immediately connect with new colleagues on social media.
If you are actively engaged with social media, it may be tempting to invite co-workers or team members to friend you on Facebook or follow you on other accounts. I strongly advise against this. Working relationships can be tricky, and connecting with colleagues on social media throws the door wide open into social, political, and family interactions that you do not need to have exposed in your professional life or with those you work with. There is no need to have these worlds colliding so early on in your tenure. It can be detrimental, as people can judge you based on random comments, photos, etc. Best to leave this door closed.
9. Set expectations with your family.
While your family and friends are likely thrilled that you’re starting a new job, they may not fully understand what that entails. Ensure that they understand the extra hours and dedication you will likely need to put in during your training. Keep them on board, so they are a support system and not an interference in your development.
10. Be respectful of all parties’ time and energy that goes into landing your dream job.
You worked hard for your new job — be proud of that. Building your resume, working with a recruiter to hone your interview skills, interviewing, and working through an offer is a lot of work. After doing all of this work, sometimes we forget to consider that the company that hired you put in a lot of effort, as did your recruiter. If you have issues or concerns, it is always best to address them respectfully with your recruiter or your new employer, as they have devoted a lot of time and resources into your new position as well. This will allow all parties to work through any issues before they grow out of hand.
11. Have fun, work hard, get ahead.
Take the time to get to know your new employer, and remember there will be ups and downs. Training is hard, and managing people can be harder. Commit to yourself and your new employer that you will make an impact in the next 24 months, set goals, and follow your plan, and you will be successful. Soon, your first intimidating day at a new job will be in the rearview mirror, and you’ll be making an impact on your new company and helping enhance the business!
Congratulations on starting your new job — you’re going to be great!