Starting a new job gives me the jitters. Like travelling alone to a foreign country, it’s exciting to learn and see new things but also nerve-racking to navigate logistics and interpret an alien language.
I’ve been on this roller-coaster before and experienced it anew this week as the new editor of Strategy and Careers here at Business Insider. I wondered, how important is that first impression and what can a professional do right from the start to set themselves up for future success?
“The first three months of any new job are an extension of the interview process,” says Amanda Augustine, career expert at TheLadders, an online job-matching service for professionals. “From the first day, you need to be on your game.”
With nearly a decade of experience advising high-level professionals, Augustine details what the most successful people do that first week in a new job:
1. Be a geek about introducing yourself.
Take the initiative to meet people. Say hello in the elevator, kitchen or bathroom. It will pay off in the end. “It could be a fast-paced culture, and they don’t have time to come to you,” says Augustine. “Start with the group that’s closest to you, the people you’re directly working with.” It will be in their best interest to get you started on the right foot, since your work will directly affect theirs.
2. Befriend a veteran who can help you navigate politics (and find the pencils).
Learn who the players are, and who’s been at your company a while, Augustine advises. Find the battered veteran who has a good handle on what works and doesn’t and can show you around. “Companies have their own language and inside jokes,” she says. “Look for the one person to help you decode the acronyms and office politics.” Plus, you’ll need someone to go to for the silly things. Asking your boss where to find the pencils is a bit below their pay grade.
3. Set expectations with your boss and employees.
“Get on your boss’s calendar,” says Augustine. Use that initial meeting to establish what they believe success will look like in the first week, month and three months. At the same time, if you’re in a managerial position, it’s important to begin setting expectations with your direct reports. From communication style to office hours, that first week sets the tone.
4. Figure out the coffee situation.
Learning where the coffee is will always be a good strategy for success. It’s also important to figure out the unwritten rules of the office that, if violated, make people go ballistic. Who washes the dishes? Which shelves are communal? “In our office, there are several refrigerators, and people get upset if you use the wrong one,” says Augustine. “Be a sponge, and watch how people are doing things. There’s nothing wrong with asking how to use the coffee maker.”
5. Start demonstrating and documenting what you sold the company on.
“Whatever you sold them on in interview, make it your mission to demonstrate that you’re going to do it,” Augustine says. If you said you were a social media whiz or good with numbers, immediately start revamping the social accounts or making sense of the company’s analytics. And start a brag sheet. Keep track of all your accomplishments, major contributions, and when you get positive feedback. You want to get in the habit early and have the information at the ready for future performance reviews and salary negotiations.
6. Get organised to set good habits.
Especially since a lot of new information is coming your way, setting good habits and getting organised from the start will make your life easier down the line. It’s also a good time to improve your bad habits. “It’s a great opportunity to overcome any challenges or weaknesses from your past,” says Augustine. If you’ve struggled with time management, for example, use that first week to map out how you’ll spend each day and begin putting it into practice.
7. Reinforce your new connections on social media.
Once you’re officially on the job, it’s important to update your title across your own social media platforms and also start following your new company and colleagues. As you meet new people, cement the relationships by finding them on Twitter or LinkedIn. Augustine advises identifying the platform that makes the most sense. Facebook, for instance, is viewed by many as personal, so use discretion.
8. Reconnect with former colleagues.
Perhaps counterintuitively, Augustine says the first week of a new job is the perfect time to reach out to colleagues from your previous jobs. “Go back and reconnect with people at your old company, and ask for LinkedIn recommendations,” she suggests. The best time to get referrals is when you’re not looking for a new job, she says.
9. Find your go-to pharmacy and take-out lunch spot.
Learn your new neighbourhood. Do you know where the nearest CVS is? What about where to get a sandwich, take people for coffee or a nice business lunch? “Logistically, you need know where to go get a Band-Aid when you need one,” Augustine says.
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