After the flurry of hiring that typically happens in the first quarter, the fall tends to be the second-biggest hiring period of the year, according to career coach Kathleen Brady, author of “Get a Job!” and the director of career services at Georgian Court University. Employers refocus on their top initiatives and capitalize on any remaining budget for new hires.
For all those newbs hanging their coats on a new office chair, that means it’s time to get to work. “The first three months of any new job are an extension of the interview process,” says career management expert Amanda Augustine. “From the first day, you need to be on your game.”
With 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,” Augustine says. “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, because 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 awhile, she advises. Find the seasoned 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,” Augustine says. 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. Analyze the makeup of your new team.
Pay attention to the subtle cues you receive from those in your group. Chances are, there may be one or more people who were vying for your role — so watch your back, Augustine warns. Look for opportunities to befriend and leverage the talents of your new colleagues to avoid any resentment from building up.
5. 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? “Be a sponge, and watch how people are doing things,” Augustine says. “There’s nothing wrong with asking how to use the coffeemaker.”
6. Start demonstrating and documenting what you sold the company on.
“Whatever you sold them on in the interview, make it your mission to demonstrate that you’re going to do it,” Augustine recommends. If you said you were a social media whiz or great with data, 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.
7. Ask tons of questions to learn the ropes.
Soak in as much as possible in that first week. If you plan on making any big changes, you need to first understand how things are usually done, and you need to earn the team’s trust. “Win them over by taking the time in the beginning to learn how things are done and why, so when you want to make changes, you can build a strong argument that your team will support,” she advises.
8. Get organized to set good habits.
Especially because a lot of new information is coming your way, setting good habits and being organized 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,” Augustine says. 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.
9. Show your face as much as possible.
Sit in on as many meetings as you can, she suggests, and don’t be afraid to speak up. Not only will you get a feel for what and who’s important in the company, but others will start to get used to seeing you around. Establish yourself in your expert area, and they’ll know who to come to in the future.
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