Starting Your New Job

How To Make A Great First Impression and Get Your Career On The Fast Track & Quickly Earn More Responsibility & Pay

Never underestimate how important it is to make a good impression at work. When your boss and colleagues realize they can rely on you to do a great job, then you’ll likely begin to receive greater responsibility. That, in turn, can lead to promotions and raises. People will judge you whether they realize it or not. It’s up to you to portray the right image and do so confidently, but not arrogantly. By carefully preparing for your first appearance on the job, you can control what kind of an impression you’ll make. Scientists believe that it only takes a few seconds for someone to form an opinion of you. In those few seconds, you’re being judged based on your words, actions, body language, and mannerisms. And once you’ve made an impression, it can be incredibly hard to start over again. In other words, the way you portray yourself on your first day will set the tone for the rest of your time at your job. Follow these tips to help you develop a reputation as a superstar employee, and avoid the mistakes typically associated with starting a new job.

Introducing yourself may sound like something you’ve got down—you’ve been doing it for years, after all. But when it comes to those early intros to all your new co-workers, you want to have a plan because first-day you are going to be nervous enough without having to ad lib your way through these crucial meetings. The good news is that you have so much more control than you think over how these initial conversations play out. And just a little bit of preparation here will go a long way. Maybe you want to say a thing or two about your previous role and company and mention that side hustle you’re passionate about. Or maybe you want to talk about where you grew up or the neighborhood you live in. You should have some sense of the culture by now to gauge whether you should keep it strictly about your professional experience or mix in some fun personality. If you’re entering a very formal, corporate environment, you might want to stick with your past experience, what you’ll be doing at the new company, and what projects you’re especially excited to work on. But if you’re heading into a more casual environment, you can probably also tell people about how you follow baseball religiously, enjoy mountain biking, or love to scout out the best ice cream in the city. The most important thing is that you feel ready and comfortable sharing a few tidbits to get those first chats going. So spend a little bit of time thinking about what you want to say and then actually practice with a friend or family member. It’ll be much easier than thinking up the right details on the spot when you’re already nervous.
Let your enthusiasm for being part of the team and the organization show through to everyone you interact with. Leave your personal problems at home and concentrate on radiating your excitement for this new professional opportunity. You should never underestimate the importance of dressing appropriately. The way you dress will impact you significantly. The best way to decide what you should wear is to ask and observe those around you. If you’re unsure what to wear, overdress so you look sharp. Body language and posture are crucial when it comes to projecting confidence. By being confident, you’ll have an easier time meeting new people and will make others feel more comfortable around you. Conversations will flow easier and you’ll feel a lot more at ease with yourself. So don’t be nervous! You’ve already shown that you’re just as qualified as everyone else to be there. You may be worried that people might not like you, or that you won’t be a good fit for the company’s culture. But just remember that they wouldn’t have hired you on if they didn’t think you were a good fit. Go in prepared, positive, and ready to work – and you’ll have no trouble getting things started on the right foot.
In theory, you should have already done your homework during the interviewing process, but there is always a lot more to learn once you’re on the inside. Get an employee handbook on your first day and study it. Read reports and company literature to become an expert on your organization. You may also find great information on the press page of your new company’s website, or on internet news websites. If you are bad with names, now is the time to spend more time remembering them. Why? Because it shows that you care. Your coworkers will definitely appreciate the fact that you took the time to learn their names so quickly. For each person you meet, collect a business card. Jot down a few notes on the back of the card. Include a few facts that you learned about the person. Then, study the cards to remind yourself of the new people on the team. Paste their LinkedIn profile pictures to the backs to help you put a face to each name.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when first starting a new position is not getting to know their co-workers from the get-go. Many people focus on getting their initial tasks right, or impressing their manager – but, without the support of co-workers, you can become isolated very quickly. Make a plan to meet everyone in your team. Shake hands, have a chat, tell them something small about yourself. After all, they’ll be the people who’ll help to get you settled in and feeling comfortable in your new role. Small talk and conversation is a great way to build relationships. Forget about the weather. Talk to your coworkers about your favorite hobbies, sports, news, or your family instead. This way, you can find some common ground for more things to talk about.
When a concern arises or something bothers you, please speak to your boss about it in a professional way. Do NOT let problems fester. That only makes them worse. Starting a new job is a stressful and uncertain time. Communication is key. Your 7 Eagle Manager is always available to discuss any issues with you anytime. Please reach out to us too if we can help you. Don’t be aloof, arrogant, or too quiet. Being open, positive and friendly is key. You haven’t been hired because you need to prove yourself. You’re there to help and people will want to help you in return. It’s important to ask questions and discuss concerns when needed.
Take notes on all the systems and rules of your new organization. Attend all orientation sessions and accept any training. Study your onboarding manual. Nothing will get you up to speed at a new job faster. Be a sponge for new information. Your participation shows interest and ambition, and an eagerness to contribute. If you’re one of those super-organized people, this tip will be easy for you. The rest of us, however, need to develop a system for keeping track of meetings, appointments, assignments, and projects. Get an organizer or planner and keep on top of all your work. Use an online calendar with reminders set for important deadlines. Make an Excel spreadsheet or just write a simple to-do list at the beginning and end of every day. Everyone has a different system that works best for them.
As you look ahead, set goals for yourself and then strive to achieve them. Revise your goals list every few months. What’s important to you now may be different from what you have when you’ve been in a position for six months or a year. In most situations, you will be given small doses of work at the beginning of a new job. Starting slowly allows you to get your feet wet without getting overwhelmed. As you finish assignments and are ready to handle a bigger workload, take the initiative and ask for more assignments. First, get comfortable with your position. Then, after checking with your boss to make sure you’re on the right track, open yourself up to additional opportunities at the company. Volunteer to take on new tasks or join committees. Being open to these opportunities is a great way to meet other colleagues, demonstrate leadership and be a team player. Just be sure not to let volunteering for new tasks, roles, and committees interfere with the main tasks of your position. And be sure to check in with your boss from time to time to make sure you’re meeting all of his or her expectations before assuming new roles. You may have so many different projects going on at any given time that it becomes difficult to remember everything you have accomplished over time. Start now and you will build this practice into your routine. It will help you to improve your own performance and increase your chances of receiving a raise or promotion down the road, and for future job-hunting. They are also a great resource for when you go through your annual performance review process. Having a list of your accomplishments demonstrates your impact in the best possible way.
Be the first to arrive at your office and the last to leave every day. Don’t ever let your boss beat you in or stay later. Do this until it becomes a habit. Remember, you can’t be a go-getter and clock-watcher at the same time, so plan to be at work a little longer than your typical eight-hour workday. Avoid long lunches. Once you understand the office culture better, you may be able to shift your hours or take longer lunches, but in the beginning, err on the side of spending more time at work to make a great first impression. Taking these steps will help you to establish a good attendance record. Yes, there will be emergencies, and, yes, you may get sick, but as best you can, try to make it to work every day during those first weeks and months on the job. If you absolutely must request time off, always promise to make up the missed hours in your free time.
Never, ever, bash a former/current boss or colleague, no matter how you were wronged or what your opinion is of them. There is no upside for you. Trash-talking won’t earn you a good impression at your new job. As tempting as it might be to tell horror stories about the time your old boss went on a rampage, how your incompetent coworker lost a huge contract, or you felt the company was treating workers shabbily, refrain from this kind of talk. It makes you look bad, especially when you’re new. Word gets around in many industries, and you don’t want people to know you’re saying unsavory things about them. It’s unprofessional, unkind, and could hamper future opportunities.
Everyone conducts some amount of personal business on company time — checking email, making dinner reservations, texting, shopping online. Your goal is to keep your personal business to a minimum and stay focused on work. If you need to make a personal call, step away from your desk. If you need to make a reservation or take care of other business online, do it quickly and discreetly, and, if possible, do it from your cell phone. Also, never use your work email for personal communication. Companies are legally allowed to monitor and read your work emails without permission.
Don’t let anyone outwork you…ever! Working hard takes zero skill. It might seem obvious, but it’s worth emphasizing: focus on always doing quality work. If the quality of your work stands out, it will help you stand out, and can counter any of your initial shortcomings. A company can train an employee to do a skill, but it can’t teach work ethic, perseverance or passion. When finishing a project, instead of kicking back and surfing social media, be proactive and find other projects, help other team members or find another way to make yourself useful. Many organizations host after-hour activities, such as sports leagues. Get involved — even if only as a cheerleader — because these types of activities are great ways to bond with your coworkers. Do be on your best behavior during these outside-work activities, though. Avoid drinking more than one alcoholic beverage, and never get drunk.
Practice listening 90% of the time, and talking just 10% of the time. This is one of the hardest skills to learn, especially for extroverts. However, you don’t want to get the reputation as the office know-it-all — or worse, someone who always has to have the limelight. If you have a legitimate contribution, make it, but if not, listen more and talk less. This goes hand-in-hand with being an attentive listener. Let them finish their sentences. Ask questions but don’t interrupt someone who is speaking. Be careful not to say or do anything that may offend the other person. However, if the other person says something to offend you, be calm and focus on the positives. Remember that their words are a reflection of themselves – not you.
It’s easy to use your phone as a security blanket during silences, or as something to fidget with when you’re not sure what to do. But you need to have the willpower to avoid using your phone because it will only affect your image negatively. It sends a message that you’re not giving your full attention to the job, or to those around you. Your phone should be put away, and it shouldn’t be seen on your desk, or on the table at a meeting. In fact, to make an even better impression, try to become known as the person who doesn’t use their phone at work. That will make you stand out as a disciplined, focused employee.
Develop mentoring relationships with several senior people in the organization. Mentoring has numerous benefits, from a simple sounding board to someone who helps direct and advances your career within the organization. Ask your mentors lots of questions, show a genuine interest in their career, and make sure to regularly thank them for their support and guidance. One of the most important things you can do at a new job is to be open to new ways of doing things. Be humble and refrain from phrases like, “In my last job….” It’s great to draw on previous knowledge and experience you bring to the workplace, but don’t act like your old methods were better. Be open and receptive to learning new ways to work.
Once you have familiarized yourself with your role and feel more comfortable, ask your boss for feedback — the more, the better. That way you can make sure you are fitting into the expectations and the cultural norms and, if you don’t, you can make the necessary adjustments. Having a weekly 15-minute meeting with your new boss to keep him or her informed of how you are doing is very important. In addition to helping you stay on track with assignments and deadlines, meeting with your boss helps establish a rapport and relationship. It is likely that your new boss will not initiate setting up a weekly meeting with you. That’s okay. Ask your boss verbally if he or she is okay with a meeting, agree on a time, and then send your boss a recurring meeting invitation. Make sure you ask your manager or team leader how they prefer to communicate, and set up regular one-on-ones. Your manager will appreciate you taking the initiative, and a regular meeting is a great way to ensure you’re both kept up-to-date and expectations are met on both sides.
At work, take advantage of every opportunity to network with key people by attending staff meetings, conferences, and trade shows. Use every opportunity to meet colleagues in your field. Networking with key people can help you to identify mentors within your organization. Outside of work, join a professional organization or take additional classes to stay ahead in your field. Just because you have a new job does not mean that you should suspend your networking. You should constantly manage and grow your network of contacts.
You will at some point make a mistake at work. It may even be a big one. It happens to everyone. How you handle the blunder will influence your manager’s opinion of you much more than the mistake itself. The first thing you should do is admit what happened. Don’t ignore your error or try to place the blame on anyone else. Instead, take full responsibility and then come up with a way to fix your mistake. Even though your boss may be upset that you made an error in the first place, he or she will at least recognize that you did all the right things when responding to it. Bosses tend to like it when their workplaces are calm. Who can blame them? When employees work together harmoniously, they can focus on their jobs. Avoid starting conversations about topics that make people uncomfortable and could even lead to arguments. Steer clear of talking about politics, sexuality, or religion for instance.
When coworkers respect one another, they get along better—and few things are more important to a boss than that. No one wants their employees fighting. Always avoid acting in an uncivil manner toward any of your coworkers. Be on time to work, especially if you are relieving someone from their shift. Don’t ever take credit for another person’s work. Always share the workload. Apologize if you ever manage to offend your coworker. There is nothing wrong with having questions. There will naturally be things that you’re not familiar with, or that you need clarification about. However, you can unintentionally come across as disrespectful by approaching your supervisor and asking questions at times when they’re busy or when the answer is easily findable. It’s your responsibility to establish how and when your boss prefers to be asked questions. This will not only get you better responses, but it will make you seem respectful, proactive, and thoughtful. It’s important to show your appreciation at work for the help that others will give you. And, nothing shows appreciation as well as kindness and genuine sentiment. Show your appreciation to everyone who helps you learn the ropes — from your coworkers to receptionists to the folks in human resources. Recognizing those who have helped you get acclimated will show your gratitude, will do wonders for making a good first impression. To show your appreciation, start with these two very simple words: “thank you.” You may want to also follow up your verbal appreciation with a handwritten thank you note, or a thank you email. If the person has really gone out of their way for you, consider treating them to lunch. Also, call in sick to work when you should. Do you think coming to work when you’re sick instead of staying at home will impress your boss? You’re wrong. Reasonable bosses know that sick employees are not only unproductive, but they can also spread germs around the office. What good will it do anyone if an entire staff has to take a sick day? If you have a fever or think your illness might be contagious, then take the day off. You can catch up on your workload when you return to work, or if you’re feeling up to it, get some done from home if your employer allows it.
It’s easy to go into a new role armed with assumptions about what to expect. Make sure you don’t go in with preconceived ideas about the job, the organization, or your boss. It’s also important to manage your expectations. For example, if you aren’t too sure of the details of your role, don’t go in thinking you’ll get clients straightaway. On the other hand, don’t assume you’ll just be stuck in the mailroom either. When you attend a conference or large business meeting on your employer’s behalf, it’s your job to make a good impression. It will reflect well on your organization, and your boss will appreciate your efforts. Dress appropriately and network with other attendees. Make sure to bring back information to share with your boss and coworkers if they could not attend the meeting.
One of the most important things you can do at a new job is to be open to new ways of doing things. Be humble and refrain from phrases like, “In my last job….” It’s great to draw on previous knowledge and experience you bring to the workplace, but don’t act like your old methods were better. Be open and receptive to learning new ways to work. If your job provides you with a company phone, software, or even a computer setup that’s not quite to your liking, don’t complain about it. While the time might come down the line to discuss upgrading software or ordering a new chair, the first few days of your new job is not the time to ask. Unless you have specific ADA issues that require accommodation, work with what your new company provides. After you prove to be a stellar, high-value employee, you can inquire about upgrades.
When an unexpected crisis happens at work—the caterer skips town before a big conference your company is hosting or a computer crashes—who will make a better impression on the boss: the employer who panics or the one who springs into action to fix the problem? Learn how to deal with workplace crises quickly and effectively. One way to do this is to imagine different scenarios beforehand and come up with plans to react to each one. Then, if the unexpected ever happens, you’ll be fully prepared to deal with it.
No one likes a limp or sweaty handshake. It’s just bad etiquette. Advice for a good handshake: dry, firm, solid, and 3 seconds. The key here is to not squeeze too hard or too soft. Apply the right amount of pressure while maintaining eye contact, and don’t pump more than 2-3 times. Body posture is so important for a good first impression. Don’t cross your arms or roll your eyes when someone is speaking. It may come off in a negative way. Instead, try to nod and smile as the other person is talking. Make eye contact and try to be relaxed. Positive body language will help your coworkers feel much more comfortable around you.
For many companies, cultural fit is hugely important. Your own long-term success, as well as the company, depends on how the team works. This means you need to be part of that as soon as you can. If you feel comfortable enough on day one to make a joke or have fun, that’s a very good sign. There’s also the possibility that you’ll be asked out to socialize. Make sure you go – it’s a good situation to see people out of work mode and to show your true personality. You definitely should speak up, contribute to projects and discussions and make recommendations for improvement if you see processes, policies or bottlenecks that seem to be hindering productivity but do so within reason. As a new hire, tread lightly. You may not understand the context of a policy or process. Ask questions first, and then assess whether or not you should suggest alternatives.
It sounds cliche, but it’s the truth. A great first impression is important, but don’t forget to just be yourself. Be confident, put on a smile, and show them your best self. No one else does it better than you. Being the newest member of the organization — the rookie — is both challenging and exciting. Remember to relax, keep your mind open, get to know your team members, and do your work. These things should help you go far in making a positive and lasting impression at your new job. Best of luck on your first day at work — and all the days that follow, too!