Finally starting the job you’ve had your eye on can be an exciting and stressful time. You sold yourself as a valuable asset for the company during your interview, so it’s natural to feel the pressure to immediately deliver on that promise. Since making the best possible impression on your new supervisor and coworkers is important, review these strategies for making your first week on the job a productive one.
Follow the rules
Though you likely won’t have an employee handbook prior to your first day, the way you conduct yourself from the moment you arrive can make a powerful first impression. Your first week at a new job is not a time to risk being late. If your start time is 9:00, leave your house with enough time to arrive at least 15 minutes early.
Dress code is another important rule that you won’t want to violate in your first week. If you’re unsure about exactly what business casual looks like to your new employer, consider dressing on the more professional side of the spectrum just to be safe. You can always take off a suit jacket, but you can’t go back in time to put on a tie.
Pro Tip: Don’t take advantage of casual dress days within your first week. You never know when you’ll be called in to meet with upper management or executives. Dress to create the impression you want to make on them.
Master the introduction
One of the best ways to smoothly transition into a new role is to begin making personal connections with the people in your office. Depending on the corporate culture, your supervisor or a coworker may take you around to meet everyone. If they don’t, feel free to take the initiative to introduce yourself to the people seated near you or those you meet in the hallways or break room.
Since learning people’s names quickly is a powerful way to make a good impression, consider looking up a few memory tricks to help connect names with faces if you’re not naturally good with this. In your first week you’ll likely meet dozens of different people in a variety of departments. It’s always better to confirm someone’s name than to call them by the wrong one.
Pro Tip: If you forget someone’s name, simply apologize and work to commit it to memory the second time. People will understand that you have a lot of information coming at you during your first week.
Clarify organizational structure
The hierarchy of every company can be vastly different than other companies you’ve worked for. Since you won’t always receive this information, don’t be afraid to ask which department or team is responsible for different functions. This will not only help you better understand the structural dynamics of your organization, but it will also give you the opportunity to continue introducing yourself to the other employees.
During a discussion on the hierarchy, you may begin to pick up on office politics and gossip. Do not engage. Your goal during your first week is to make the best possible impression and get the tools necessary to be successful in your role. There will be plenty of time for politics, if you desire, after you’ve established yourself within the company.
Pro Tip: Use this opportunity to learn who the go-to people are within the company and each department so you can ensure you’ve met them during the first week.
Be acceptably social
If you’re the type of person who prefers to work through lunch or read a book while you eat, prepare to step out of your comfort zone for at least the first few weeks on a new job. Joining your coworkers or supervisor for lunch gives you the opportunity to get to know each other on a human level. You’ll also gain additional insight into their personalities, which can make it easier to anticipate their reactions if you must later present them with bad news about a project you’re working on.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with being the one to initiate a lunch invitation. If you’re new to the area, something as simple as asking where the best place to get a juicy burger or a hearty salad can be an excellent icebreaker. Once they’ve made a recommendation, it doesn’t hurt to ask them to join you.
Pro Tip: Some departments regularly schedule informal gatherings or happy hours after work. Even if you’d prefer to get home right away, try to attend at least a few after hours events to establish yourself as part of the team.
Refresh your skills
Unfortunately, the tools and technologies you were asked about during your interview won’t always be what are utilized on the job. Once you have a better understanding of exactly what your job entails and what tools are available, begin looking for ways to refresh and expand your working knowledge of the appropriate technologies. If you’re expected to use something you’ve never worked with before on your first day, don’t hesitate to ask questions if you get stuck.
Learn what’s expected
It’s not uncommon to get into a new position and quickly learn that the performance expectations discussed in the interview aren’t entirely accurate. Your first week on the job is an excellent time to set up a meeting with your supervisor regarding their expectations of your performance. You may even want to take this a step further by asking them what success in the position looks like to them at various milestones, such as 30 days, three months and six months.
While your supervisor may give you a fairly corporate answer about the dynamics within your department and between departments, your coworkers can often provide a clearer picture of how things really work. Within every department or team, there’s usually one person who’s been around for a while and understands the nuances of getting things done. Make it a point to seek their advice whenever you have a question.
Pro Tip: Take the initiative to gain all the knowledge possible prior to your start date. Find out if there is any documentation on the project you’ve been hired for or reference material for the company that you can review before your first official day.
Keep an open mind
In order to really hit the ground running in a new job, it’s critical that you’re open to learning new ways of doing things. Before you can attempt to make any changes or suggestions, you must first learn to work within company policies, procedures and processes. Understand that the company does things the way it does and uses the tools it uses for a reason.
To make the right impression and avoid ruffling feathers in your first week, try to spend more time learning how things are currently done than talking about what you’d change. In many cases, you won’t always have the context necessary to make a recommendation on day one. Furthermore, making any disparaging comments about the work that’s come from previous projects or the tools used won’t help you make a positive first impression.
Pro Tip: While you may have very strong opinions about the best way to complete a particular project, avoid sharing your opinion in an aggressive manner during your first week.
- Goudreau, J. (2013, August 23). 9 Things Successful People Do In The First Week Of A New Job. Business Insider. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.businessinsider.com/9-things-to-do-in-the-first-week-of-a-new-job-2013-8
- Hansen, K., & Hansen, R. (n.d.). Making an Impression: Your First Days Working at a New Job. Making an Impression: Your First Days Working at a New Job. Retrieved October 21, 2014, from http://www.quintcareers.com/first_days_working.html
- Treanor, J. (2014, January 1). 7 tips for a successful first week on the job. chicagotribune.com. Retrieved October 21, 2014