You tweaked your resume, went through the interviews, and waited while they debated – and decided to hire you. But just because you have a start date doesn’t mean that you can relax just yet. The next step to a successful career is living up to the expectations that you set while showcasing your skills. Don’t worry though, taking a proactive approach to getting settled in at your new job will help determine how your career moves forward from here.
Before you step through the doors of your new office, you need to be ready to take on the challenges of the job. Mental preparation and having realistic expectations are two key determiners of whether or not you sink or swim. You want to strike a balance between showing interest and looking like you don’t know what you’re doing. Prepare a short introduction to have on hand for the many introductions you’ll be tasked with. Make sure you cover the basics of who you are, where you’re coming from, and what you’re doing there now. Keep it short and sweet, but informative.
Show up early
Punctuality is valued by almost all employers. Unless you know you live a 10-minute walk away from the new job, figure out your route before your first day and leave plenty of time to get there. Try driving different routes during rush hour in the weeks before you start, to figure out how long it will take. The last thing you want to do is show up late on your first day, so once you know how long it should take, tack on an extra 10 minutes just in case of an accident or other unavoidable mishap. At the same time, you don’t want to be standing around for half an hour before everyone else arrives, so you might want to find a nearby coffee shop to hang out at with a good book if you are ahead of schedule.
You want to make sure that you present yourself in a way that shows you are confident and relaxed, but not cocky, and that you know how to be a professional. Pay attention to your wardrobe, and make sure you take the time to learn what others are wearing when you go in for your interview. If needed, contact the HR department to find out what the dress policies are. Avoid anything too flashy, and keep make up and jewelry conservative. Put your cell phone on silent, and be attentive and energetic. These first few weeks you are going to be judged on your work ethic and how you conduct yourself professionally, not on your skill set. Eventually, they will know what you bring to the table, but until then, make sure your attitude is a positive one.
Bring a lunch, but be ready to toss it
Until you know what the office lunch culture is like, you want to make sure that you bring something you can scarf down in a hurry at your desk without having to heat it up. As unappealing as that sounds, many jobs don’t really consider lunch taking to be a priority. In all likelihood, you will have a bit more time than that, but just to be on the safe side, be ready for the worst. At the same time, your first day is the time that your new boss or coworkers might decide to take you out to lunch. If they do, don’t decline. This is a good opportunity to show that you’re a team player. Just save the bagged lunch for another day.
Listen and observe
It’s important to get a lay of the land when you first start. Figure out what the professional hierarchy is, and what the social dynamics are as well. Odds are good that the friendliest of your new co-workers is also the one most interested in office gossip and drama, and may not be the one you want to ally yourself with on day one. Keep things quiet and take notes if you need to, especially about important names and faces. Keep your opinions to yourself, and learn the lay of the land, especially if you were hired to make changes. Smile and listen. You’ll have plenty of time to make a name for yourself once you figure out how things work.
Learn the unwritten rules
There are almost always two sets of rules in an office. The ones they tell you, and the ones that you learn by trial and error. What most people don’t realize is that you can learn many of those rules without the error part – simply by keeping a low profile and being observant. Figuring out the office politics is also something you want to take care of quickly – before you get yourself into trouble by listening to the wrong group of people. If you want to move up in the world, you need to make sure you are associating with the right ones.
While all of this may sound very complicated, it’s not. Just remember to relax and keep things positive. Be approachable and friendly, but not too eager to jump on anyone’s bandwagon. Be yourself, even if it’s a toned down version of yourself. If you’re a quiet and observant introvert, pretending to be outgoing will be exhausting. Remember that in a few short weeks, you’ll have settled in and you’ll wonder what you were so worried about.
Kelly Smith is a technology addict and an experienced writer at CourseFinder. She combines her huge interest in new tech solutions and leadership trends with her love for writing.