Tips for Successfully Starting a New Job
Tips for Successfully Starting a New Job
The content in this guide is provided for general information only, and is not intended to address specific circumstances of any particular individuals. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.
Change can be exciting but it is also difficult. You are probably happy and relieved that you have landed your new job, but you are also likely to be nervous and unsure. What if they don’t like you, or you don’t like them? Those first-day jitters may last well into your first few months at your new workplace. Most working adults have held several positions throughout the duration of their professional lives. From after-school jobs in high school to entry-level positions in your field of interest, chances are you have been the “newbie” at one point or another. Starting a new job doesn’t have to be overwhelming; after all, it is an exciting step toward the next phase of your life and toward your ultimate career goal. With a few helpful tips about how to navigate your new workplace, you can be on your way to building the career of your dreams. Continue reading the topics presented in this guide to learn how to successfully start a new job.
Mastering the Transition From Your Old Job to Your New Job
Whether you’re completely switching gears by shifting from one industry to another, changing companies or simply moving on to a better position with your existing employer, transitioning between jobs can be tricky. First, you must determine the appropriate time and way to leave your current job and accept a new position. Then you will need to learn about your new job’s procedures, people, scheduling and daily operations. All of this can cause a big headache if you don’t know what you’re doing. Fortunately, there are several ways to make the transition between jobs smooth and error-free. Continue reading for some helpful tips on how to have a successful change of careers without sacrificing your sanity.
Inform Your Employer and Give Notice
It is common courtesy to inform your current employer about your plans to leave your position well in advance so that a new person can be hired and trained and critical information and responsibilities can be explained and transitioned. This means that in your job interview with your new employer, you will need to set expectations by specifying when you are available to start working.
Discuss your plans with your immediate boss as well as the human resources department. Two week’s notice is standard, but there are certain positions that may require a longer transition period. If you have an employment contract, the amount of notice you are obligated to give may be spelled out there. Don’t wait until the very last minute to inform your bosses of your exit. You’ll leave them scrambling to fill your position and eager to spread the word about your unprofessional behavior.
Your boss may not react positively when you notify him or her that you are leaving, especially if you’ve been with the company for several years and your role is significant to the daily operations. However, taking a new job is entirely your choice and your right.
Leave on Good Terms
It is essential that you leave your current job in good standing and on good terms with your employer, bosses and colleagues. Whether you worked there for a few months or several years, you were an integral part of the team. The time you spent working there shouldn’t go to waste; if you ever plan to use that experience on a resume, be sure to exit cordially. You never know when you will need to call on your previous employer for references or acknowledgements. A gracious departure from work can make all the difference in your career moves in the future.
Thank your boss for the opportunity to work there and that you learned a lot while you were there. Offer to help redefine the job description or suggest content for a job opening advertisement. Also offer to help train your replacement to get the new person up to date on all of your responsibilities. If your boss or the human resources department requests that you do an exit interview, and you can do so without being negative or insulting anyone, it is a good idea to do so. Your employer will be appreciative of your concern for the company, which will help you stay on good terms down the road.
Don’t be afraid to stay in touch with your previous colleagues and supervisors. These contacts may come in handy at your next place of employment.
The key to eliminating stress during your transition is to create a plan and stick to it. After you announce your plans to leave your current position, you may become inundated with requests to meet with friends and colleagues. After all, switching careers can be life-changing. Clear your schedule to make room for these social events.
Prepare to answer a lot of questions in person and online, especially if you make your announcement via social media, but avoid badmouthing your former employer or any of the people who work there. Above all, stick to your timeline. If your plan was to completely transition within 30 days, don’t agree to stay for an extra week. This will only cause more stress and make a negative impression on your new employer.
Enter With an Open Mind
Your new place of work will undoubtedly differ from your previous workplace, even if you’re staying within the same occupational field. When you arrive for your first day, try to have an open mind. The policies and procedures at your new place of employment may be different from what you’re used to. Try to go with the flow.
Try to give yourself a few weeks of adjusting to your new workplace before you start making suggestions about improvements. If you see something that you think could work better with a different approach, be humble in the way that you make the suggestion and refrain from saying “At my old job, we did…” since that might cause resentment among your new co-workers.
Preparation Before You Start Work
Use some of the time between accepting the new job and wrapping up your old job to prepare yourself for your new work environment.
Do a little more research on the company by going on its website. Look at the management team and learn as much as possible about them, especially the ones you will be working with or under. See if there is any news about the company that would be useful or interesting, such as areas of focus or expansion. Do an internet search on your boss to get a little knowledge about his or her background.
Read the Employee Manual
The employee manual should tell you about the company structure, rules, benefits and expectations. If you can familiarize yourself with this material ahead of time, it will save you the embarrassment of making an avoidable mistake or having to ask a question.
Do Any Onboarding Activities
Many companies have onboarding videos, written materials or classes to acclimate new hires to the company. Be sure to go through all of this information, since in addition to basic information, it should introduce you to some of the people you will see and give you an idea of the company culture.
Talk to Your Manager
Have a brief conversation with your manager, asking about the dress code, what time the workday typically starts and ends and if there is anything you should bring or prepare for your first day. Reiterate that you are excited to be joining the company.
Do a Test Run
Before your first day, test your commute so you know how long it actually takes to get there and what the best route is. If you need to find your own parking, this is a good time to scout out nearby garages and lots. If you will be telecommuting, test your equipment and connection to make sure that your software is downloaded and working properly, the web camera works and is positioned well, your audio works and that your background is neat and clean.
Eliminating the First-Day Jitters
As an adult, you’ve experienced a lot of “firsts” in your lifetime, like your first day of school or your first time away from home. The first day at your new job can be nerve-racking, even in adulthood. It can be especially unnerving if you don’t know anyone in your new work environment. It’s normal to have the first-day jitters, but they shouldn’t affect your ability to work. Luckily, there are ways you can combat these jitters and walk into your new job feeling confident and ready to excel. Here are some helpful pointers you can use to eliminate the nervousness that accompanies every employee’s first day on the job.
Remember: Everyone Has Been in Your Shoes
You aren’t the first new employee, and you certainly won’t be the last. All your new colleagues were once in your same position. You may come across an intimidating personality, but just remember that he or she was new once, too. Not everyone is as nice to new employees as they should be. You might feel isolated as the “new person,” but you’ll feel a lot better when you remind yourself that everyone was new at some point. And besides, you won’t be new forever. Within a matter of months (or perhaps even weeks), you may meet the newest hire and be the one to offer him or her some helpful advice.
You Won’t Know Everything – and That’s Okay
Don’t expect to walk into work on your first day and know everything. Your employer expects you to have the skill set listed on your resume and not much more. In fact, most employers require new employees to undergo mandatory onboarding and training to learn all the ins and outs of the position. With that in mind, just relax and absorb as much information as you can. You will likely be inundated with information in your first week. Your bosses and colleagues may have high expectations for you, but they also assume you will ask questions. The only way to become an expert is to first be a novice. Ask questions, ask for help and observe your coworkers on a daily basis.
Remind Yourself Why You’re There
When your nerves get the best of you, take a step back. Remind yourself why you’re there in the first place. Employees transition to a new job for various reasons; find your reason and use it to motivate you on your first day. Whether this new position will help you propel yourself up the corporate ladder or is your life’s goal, close your eyes and let it permeate your brain. The first few weeks of your job will be hectic, but if you can remember why you’re there, you will stay motivated. Leaving a previous position where you were comfortable and had good relationships with co-workers is hard, but there was a reason for your departure. Find it, say it out loud and use it to succeed in your new career venture.
Engage in Self-Care
Even the most positive change (like a new job) is stressful, so be kind to yourself. If you make mistakes in your first couple of weeks at work, don’t beat yourself up. You are engaged in a learning process and that takes time. Feeling comfortable in your new work environment may take some time as you need to get to know your boss and co-workers. This can be especially difficult if you have an introverted personality. Go with the assumption that once your co-workers get to know you, they will like you.
To counter the stress inherent in your job transition, give yourself some self-care, like a warm bubble bath when you get home or your favorite pastry with your morning coffee. Do some deep breathing exercises on your break and relax. After your transition time is over, you will get into the groove of your new job.
Making a Good First Impression
Most people don’t realize it, but a first impression can seriously impact your job success. On top of learning the ropes of your new position, it is important to also be aware of how you’re representing yourself. Your bosses, supervisors and colleagues will be hoping that you fit in and, as terrible as it sounds, some may even be rooting for your first mess-up. Don’t let yourself get off on the wrong foot. We’ll guide you through your first week on the job and point out some important things you should do to make a good first impression.
Arrive Early for Your First Day
Punctuality is a vital part of being professional. Arriving early for your first day on the job shows your new boss, manager or supervisor that you’re eager to begin learning the ropes. There will likely be a lot of first-day activities, including a tour of your new workplace and informal introductions with your colleagues. Give yourself enough time to get situated and begin the day by arriving 20 to 30 minutes before the scheduled start of your workday. Likewise, don’t be afraid to stay an extra couple of minutes after your day is done to ask any follow-up questions or complete any additional paperwork. This dedication to your new position will not go unnoticed.
Don’t Be a Know-It-All
It can be tempting to walk into your new job and begin showing off your exceptional knowledge and skills. After all, you want to be sure that everyone knows that you’re qualified for the position, right? Wrong. Being a know-it-all is a huge turnoff for most people, and may be taken as insecurity. Instead of respecting your qualifications, your coworkers and supervisors may grow to resent them.
It may be difficult, but on your first day, try to let others take control. Some individuals may be eager to explain to you the daily operations of your new workplace. Rather than informing them of the way you do things, listen, be patient and let them finish. They are simply trying to help you adjust, and by absorbing the information they give you, you will come across as personable and approachable.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your first day will be a whirlwind of information, meetings and tours. On top of learning the map of your new workplace, you will be learning all the daily tasks you’re expected to complete. Don’t stress out trying to memorize everything on your own; your colleagues are there to help. What’s more, reaching out to colleagues for help provides a seamless way to start building connections and shows that you are eager to do things correctly and fit in with the company’s work culture. Your employer wants you to experience a smooth transition just as much as you do, so don’t hesitate to ask questions when they arise.
Respect Your Coworkers’ Space
When you arrive at your new place of work, be sure to respect the physical space and routines of your new colleagues. Whether you work in an office setting, out in the field or have a varying work environment, remember that your colleagues have an established routine that works for them. You may not be used to some of the daily operations that are occurring at your new place of work, but who are you to disrupt the flow? Come to your new job with an open mind and a respect for existing boundaries. If you share an office cubicle, desk, dormitory or common space with one or more employees, make sure that you understand which area is yours to touch, move and decorate. Respect their space and they’ll likely respect yours.
Getting the Most Out of New Employee Training Sessions
In many jobs, new employees are required to undergo new employee onboarding, training sessions and/or probationary period. This initial training is intended to introduce the new employee to the daily operations of the workplace and to familiarize them with routine procedures. The type of training that a new employee attends varies with the industry in which they work. For example, labor-intensive careers like police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel must go through an intensive training and certification process before being hired then once they are on the job, typically work through a probationary period of one or more months during which they cannot have any slip-ups or mishaps. New employees who work in technical or mechanical positions usually work under the supervision of an experienced employee for several months. Other careers, like office jobs and retail positions, require new hires to attend mandatory training seminars and complete computer-based modules. Rather than groaning at the thought of these training sessions, be prepared to derive the maximum value from them with a few insider tips and tricks.
The first step in conquering a mandatory training session is shifting your mentality. It’s natural for new employees to roll their eyes, hang their heads and zone out during these sessions. However, the training you will receive at your new job is important for your productivity as well as your safety. Some positions require employees to perform dangerous tasks. These tasks are explained thoroughly during initial training periods. For example, before employees can legally operate dangerous machinery like forklifts and trash compactors, they must attend training. Spacing out during training sessions can lead to dangerous and potentially deadly consequences. Go into your first training session with a positive attitude. You’ll feel motivated to pay attention and be an active participant.
Listen and Learn
There are often two different parts of a training session. The first part is listening, which commonly consists of sitting and listening to a pre-recorded video or an instructor discussing workplace procedures. The second part involves learning, which most new employees take for granted. Listening to the information is only half of a successful training session. You must play an active role in your learning if you want the information to stick in your mind. This involves asking questions, taking notes, answering prompts given by the instructor and volunteering in demonstrations. Not only will this benefit your workplace knowledge, but it looks good to your supervisors and bosses.
Keep Challenging Yourself
When the training period lasts for several weeks or months, it can be tough to stay motivated. One way by which you can remain driven throughout the duration of your training is to ask your superiors to increase the level of difficulty. This tactic is ideal for those employed in labor-intensive, technical, mechanical or medical positions. For example, after several weeks of focusing on a specific task, ask your instructor or supervisor to heighten the difficulty. After you master the task, try it again in a more difficult scenario. This makes training more interesting and only helps you become a better and more valuable employee.
When you participate in classroom role-playing scenarios or by speaking up during the session by answering or asking questions, you will be far more engaged than if you just sit there. It also helps you stand out among your fellow new hires, making it easier to form friendships. Full participation makes the trainer’s job easier and will win you some brownie points from management as well.
Make It Fun
New employee training is mandatory, but it doesn’t have to be boring. There are ways to make the training period more exciting for you and other new hires. Collaborate with others and come up with innovative solutions to work scenarios being discussed by the trainers. If the training itself is boring, connect with your fellow employees during breaks and start to form friendships.
Your first day of work will consist of an information overload. Instead of trying to memorize everything your boss says to you, write down notes to help you remember the key points. The best way to learn something quickly is to take notes and review them at the end of the day. If you attended college, you know this well. It may seem silly, but you should carry around a notebook during your first week and jot down any information about the layout of the workplace, your schedule, meeting times, office locations and any important daily tasks. It’s better to have a personalized outline with you for the rest of the week than to keep repeating the same questions to your colleagues. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with asking questions; just be sure that you’re taking initiative to try to learn on your own.
Tips for Making Your New Job Feel Like Home
Becoming comfortable at work takes time. Socializing with your colleagues and creating your own routine are important parts of your career experience. As you transition from one job to the next, you may feel a bit lost or out of your comfort zone. Feelings of discomfort can negatively affect your productivity and your ability to succeed in your new environment. It is crucial that you take steps toward making your new position feel familiar to you. It may not happen overnight, but you can start feeling like you belong in your new workplace by taking the initiative to make a place for yourself on your first day of work. Keep reading to discover some useful tips on how to feel more at home in your new job.
Socialize With Your Coworkers
Accepting a new job usually means leaving familiar faces behind and meeting new colleagues. At any stage of life, getting to know people can be scary. You may feel a bit isolated as the new employee, but you should make an effort to get to know the people around you. Most are willing to help and want you to have a smooth transition.
It can be difficult trying to get to know someone during the workday, especially if you’re employed in a busy or hectic occupation. So, during the first few weeks of your new job, try to get together with some colleagues for lunch or after work for dinner or drinks. Socializing with your coworkers will help you feel more at ease during the workday and offer you some comfort on particularly difficult days. Cultivating friendships with co-workers outside of work is great for your self-esteem, which has a positive influence on your productivity at work. Be careful not to form cliques, as they often have negative impacts on the environment in the workplace.
Make Your Space Your Own
Depending on the type of job you have, you may be able to have your own space. This space may take the shape of a cubicle, office, desk or dormitory. Make it your own! Bring items from home or from your previous job to help ease into your new position. Items like framed pictures of your family, books, calendars, wall art, posters, magnets, lamps, coffee mugs and other desktop decorations can help you transform a boring space into one that reflects your interests. Be sure to get clearance with your supervisors before bringing in any décor.
Get a Handle on the Company Culture
As you become more familiar with your workplace and colleagues, take some time to observe the environment. Watch how others interact and perform their daily tasks. The culture at your new place of employment may be very different from anything you’ve ever experienced. It’s natural to want to fit in with the rest of your coworkers. If something seems odd, don’t be afraid to ask why certain tasks are performed in the manner that they are. Pay attention to these five aspects of workplace culture:
Companies, like people, have different ways of cultivating relationships. Some companies value and encourage collaboration, whereas others are more siloed into individual responsibilities. In some companies, in-person communication is preferred, while in others employees prefer to stick to email, texting and video calls. Observe how others work with each other and how they respond to your outreach. Are they friendly and helpful or do they give you short answers and then return to their work? Do they come by your desk to chat or is everyone glued to their computer?
Less formal companies may have impromptu meetings while others may send around written notice of pre-planned meetings for which you are expected to be prepared. Flatter organizations have free-flowing communications among people of all levels, but others have a strict hierarchy through which communication flows to the top. Knowing this will help you avoid missteps and making enemies.
Who the real decision-makers are is key if part of your job is convincing people to do things, create initiatives or launch new products. Sometimes there is a nominal decision-maker but that person relies on the opinions of several key people. In some organizations, decisions are made by a group, in others by an individual. Another aspect of decision-making culture is if the company leans toward action or analysis/consensus. If action, the timeline is shorter and you will have less time to make your case.
Individual vs. The Group Perspectives
To some companies, accomplishments are due to individual effort and are recognized as such, whereas in others, teams are given the credit. Individualistic companies tend to be more internally competitive since each person is trying to stand out and get recognized, while team cultures foster cooperation among employees. Listen to how people at work talk about accomplishments and whether they use “we” or “I, he or she” to describe them.
Amenability to Change
If you are brought into the company to “shake things up,” you should have the green light to make changes, right? Not necessarily. If people are in a fast-paced industry and are used to shifting gears and trying new things, great. However, most companies have some amount of inertia and your colleagues may be resistant to changing certain things. If this is the case, you may need to invest time in making your case, getting buy-in from key players and pacing your changes to make it easier for others to implement.
Don’t Compare Jobs
It may be tempting when talking to your boss or colleagues to make suggestions for change by talking about how your previous employer did things. However, doing so will only have a negative impact on your happiness and success. Even if your new job is similar to your previous one, remember that they are run by two completely different employers. The procedures and company culture can be wildly different and your previous company’s strategies may not work here. When you draw comparisons, it sounds like an implicit criticism of your new company and your boss will grow tired of your suggestions. It is a better strategy to adapt to the new culture and make any suggestions without the reference point of a previous employer unless you are specifically asked.
Discuss Your Goals With Your Boss
In order to gauge your success, you should come up with a list of goals for the first few months. Share these goals with your manager, supervisor or boss. He or she will be more than happy to monitor your progress and give you updates as time goes on. These progress reports will help you get a better understanding of your success and whether you are happy with your current position. It can be difficult to determine whether you’re succeeding in your position if you don’t have an idea of where you should be. Sit down with your boss and discuss your career goals, making sure to stick them to a timeline.
The First Week
No matter the size of your new workplace, take the time to introduce yourself to everyone. Make it a habit to learn names and respective titles, even though this may take you a few days or even weeks. If you are bad with names, it helps to repeat the person’s name back to them. Some people also use mnemonic devices silently to themselves to help them remember, like “blonde Barbara” or “Aidan in Accounting.” If you still forget someone’s name, politely ask for it again by saying something like, “Could you tell me your name again? I’m still trying to get to know everyone here.”
Don’t leave anyone out – not even the building cleaners or groundskeepers. Introducing yourself to everyone you come across is a great way to secure a positive first impression among the employees. Your smiling face will stick with them and may even lead to new friendships. Ignoring your new coworkers comes off as rude and unprofessional, so be sure to reach out to everyone you see.
Make a Friend
After you have gotten to meet everyone, focus on the friendliest one and invite that person out to lunch or coffee. Ask them a lot of questions about themselves to get to know them and actively listen to the answers. Share your background and look for commonalities that you can build upon.
Get Your Bearings
In some larger workplaces, it could take up to a month to memorize how to get from point A to point B. Getting to work early will give you time to explore. If your company has common areas such as employee lounges or cafeterias, this is a great place to go to connect with your co-workers. If your role requires you to interact with people in other departments, you can go there to introduce yourself so they will recognize you later.
Meet with Your Manager One-on-One
After your first day or two, you may have a list of questions about your duties, the company, accounts and the like. Schedule a short meeting with your manager and have your questions ready. Be sure to ask about the best way to communicate with the manager. Does he or she prefer email, phone, text or in-person communication? This is also a good time to discuss the manager’s goals and priorities and how you can help accomplish them.
Get and keep handy a contact list of the people you need to deal with in the company, set up your calendar and create to-do lists. Setting these routines will help you to be more efficient.
The First Month
Establish Your Personal Brand
You were hired because you gave the hiring manager an impression about you as a worker and as a person. Now that you are starting your job, you need to communicate things about yourself to your colleagues and manager. Think about what is important to you and act accordingly. For example, are you a “do whatever it takes” kind of person or someone who values a work-life balance?
When others think of you, what do you want to be known for? Do you want to be considered to be a leader who mentors and nurtures others? Do you want to be known for being bold and decisive? Do you want to be the one who creates an inclusive environment where people can feel comfortable and respected? Do you want to be a catalyst who pushes people out of their comfort zones?
Now that you are established in some sort of routine, work on establishing value. This includes small things like making a morning run to the coffee shop and bringing in a box of pastries to share with your co-workers or offering help to a colleague who is stumped. It is also the time to think about your manager’s goals and figure out ways that you can do extra to help accomplish the goal and/or make the manager’s job easier. If a company problem or challenge was discussed during your interview, consider writing up a short proposal about how you can take lead on solving it.
The First 90 Days
After the first month, you should have a good handle on your job duties and responsibilities and how you need to interact with others to get things done. After that, think about how you can improve your outcomes. This might involve asking more questions of your boss and colleagues, improving your time management and efficiency, enhancing your skills with training, working on building and strengthening relationships within the company or collaborating with others to create innovative solutions.
In the beginning, you may have gone out of your way to be extra helpful or worked long hours to show your dedication. Of course, you still need to do your job well and be a team player.
But now is the point to establish a new normal so you don’t get burned out or feel like a doormat. Learning to say no to things that will overwhelm you will keep you productive and less stressed.
Set Up a 90-Day Review
In some companies, this is the normal practice, but if it isn’t in yours, you can ask for one. At this meeting, you can get a sense of whether you and your manager are on the same page. You can go over your early goals and update your manager on your progress and accomplishments. It is also a good time to ask what goals you should have for the next three months, six months and year. This shows your manager that you are goal oriented and want to contribute to the department’s and company’s overall success.