Starting a new job is scary. Whether you’re straight out of college or have been in the workforce for 20 years, entering into a new work environment can make you feel as if you’ve stepped foot on another planet. In order to succeed, both socially and professionally, you’re expected to learn the lingo, follow the dress code, and pick up on the acceptable behaviors. That’s a whole lot to do without help.
However, while it’s the company’s job to help you learn about the office culture, much of your success at a new job rides on you. Below are seven tips to help you succeed at your new job from day one.
1. Don’t forget about your personal brand.
You’ve heard it time and time again during the interview process — from the moment you step foot into the office, you are representing yourself and your personal brand.
Now that you’re starting your first day as an employee, don’t downplay the importance of first impressions. Your first 90 days on the job are often treated as an extension of the interview. That means you should use every interaction to prove that you’re a respectful, professional, and diligent worker, but also that you’re someone who your colleagues will enjoy spending eight hours a day with.
From a conversation with your manager to your first department meeting to your first company happy hour, every office task is an opportunity to learn, grow, and represent yourself in a positive light.
2. Be careful with early demands — trust and rewards are earned.
Some new hires come to work with demands their first week of work, from how they want their schedules handled to how they’ll handle their work, and more. Tread lightly here. Trust is earned. When you prove yourself by showing up and doing your work well, you will be given much more leniency on how you handle your schedule and work in general.
3. Set healthy boundaries early on.
This career tip is one that can take some time to understand, but it’s worth mentioning so you’re aware of the importance of setting healthy boundaries in regards to work. When you set healthy boundaries, you are clarifying what is acceptable and unacceptable to you in regards to how late you’re willing to work, the total number of hours you’re willing to work, how you’ll deal with saying “no” when needed, and how personal you’re willing to allow your work relationships to be.
Once you set the example that you’re willing to do certain things, it’s hard to go back. In other words, if your manager sends you emails over the weekend, and you respond, then you may unknowingly set the expectation that you will always be willing to work on weekends.
4. Mind your own business.
Plenty of employees make themselves look bad by trying to involve themselves in work matters that are none of their business. Work environments can be quite the tangled web of ‘frenemies,’ cliques, and gossip, all of which the savvy and wise new hire will avoid. Unless you are a supervisor, your work is the only work you’re responsible for.
The exception to this rule is if someone is doing something unethical, creating an unsafe work environment due to harassment or bullying, is doing something unsafe, or is negatively impacting your ability to do your job. These scenarios warrant further action on your part by bringing the concern to the attention of your supervisor or HR.
5. Choose your work battles wisely.
With the numerous people you will interact with in the work world, you likely will encounter plenty of frustrations, concerns, and conundrums. To maintain your sanity and productivity at work, it will be helpful for you to discern between challenges you need to deal with vs. the ones you can overlook and move on from.
6. Create good time management skills at work from the start.
When starting work in the corporate world, it doesn’t take long for the volume of work and projects to pile up. These items, combined with the personal items you need to address on a regular basis, can become overwhelming if you don’t find a way to put good time management skills into practice while at work. Some common time management techniques include setting priorities, maintaining lists of items to be addressed daily, and scheduling blocks of time to address certain items.
It’s also okay to say “no.” The goal here is saying “no” without really saying “no.” If you are asked to complete a project or do a task, you can share your current obligations and then negotiate the completion due date. You are essentially saying “yes,” while also managing expectations. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your manager to help you set priorities if you find the requests piling up.
If you’re constantly being asked to do items that are not within your work scope, you may need to find a way to politely say “no” to these items, as well. Helping someone out at work is one thing, but don’t allow yourself to be a doormat or become overwhelmed or stressed by such requests. Finally, give yourself permission to let go of some non-vital items or look for alternative ways to get an activity covered, such as hiring someone to clean your apartment for you.
7. Ask a lot of questions (most of the time).
There is a lot to learn as a new hire — from how to do your job effectively to how the organization works. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by all the items you will need to learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to gain clarity when you need it. It’s better to get the information to handle things correctly vs. learning the hard way that you’re doing something incorrectly. No one expects you to be a pro when you are new to a job, and no one expects you to know everything about the organization right away, either. Chances are that others have similar questions to you, so don’t be afraid to ask.
At the same time, show initiative by doing your own research. Take time to learn about your position and the organization before you begin commenting or making suggestions that might be interpreted as not understanding your position or the organization or could be perceived as argumentative or condescending. If you’ve been provided answers to questions, be sure to listen so you don’t have to ask the same questions over and over again, as well.
We all need a little help sometimes, but with these tips, you’re sure to start off your new job on the right foot.