How to Start a New Job on the Right Foot

Whether you’re a recent graduate who recently accepted your first “real” job or a seasoned professional, walking into a new workplace for the first time can be very stressful. Keeping track of new people, processes, policies, and priorities is taxing.

These tips can help you make a positive impression during your first weeks on the job:

Don’t be a stranger. You could get off on the wrong foot with others if you sit back and wait for them to reach out to you. Shyness can come across as unfriendliness or even snobbery.

Be sure to make the rounds in your first week on the job and introduce yourself to new colleagues, even those you may be working with only in a limited capacity. The more affable and outgoing you are, the quicker you’ll be able to build rapport and gain access to valuable information and resources.

Get a read on the company. Company handbooks aren’t necessarily page-turners, but you can’t afford to ignore the content within. Making incorrect assumptions about personal web usage, electronic security, the social media policy, or the dress code can cause problems.

While many of these issues will likely have been touched upon during your orientation, taking the time to read up on all protocols and procedures will keep you from accidentally running afoul of rules.

Pay attention to the unwritten rules, too. The nuances of the prevailing corporate culture aren’t always spelled out in black and white. Does the boss like to receive updates via email or in-person chats? Are laptops typically brought to meetings? Do people actually observe “casual Friday”? Astutely observing people’s behaviors, work styles, and communication preferences–and adjusting yours accordingly–will make your adjustment smoother.

Practice proper diplomacy. Your manager will expect you to offer fresh perspectives and solutions. But be cautious about how and when you present your ideas and feedback.

It’s wise to give your thoughts when asked or to occasionally share some initial impressions, but do so in a tactful and respectful manner. There’s no better way to alienate yourself than to come across as a brash know-it-all. In addition, avoid overt criticism and comparisons to your previous workplace.

Pace yourself. It’s admirable to want to immediately establish yourself as a capable go-getter. But you won’t impress anyone if you over-promise and under-deliver.

Give yourself some time to get a firm handle on your core duties and responsibilities before volunteering to tackle every side project you hear about. By biting off more than you can chew, you could burn out or set an unsustainable precedent when it comes to your workload.

Finally, cut yourself some slack. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake or have to ask lots of questions during your first weeks on the job. And when you encounter those inevitable moments of self-doubt, remember that your new manager and colleagues know it’s difficult to be the new kid on the block. Chances are, they’re granting you a grace period to get up to speed.

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