Your Guide to Starting a New Job

Conventional wisdom states that it takes only 30 seconds to make a lasting impression. A 2017 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science suggests that people solidify first impressions in even less time -- about 33-100 milliseconds. While that second number might be unmanageable, you must develop a keen social skill set if you want to make a positive impact. This guide delves into the concepts and strategies new employees can apply to make good impressions during their first day and sustain these interactions over the long run.

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While starting a new job can engender anxiety or even fear, you should find reprieve knowing that your colleagues and supervisors want to connect and collaborate as much as you do. Camaraderie among employees creates a productive workplace culture and leads to organizational success. Many employers understand the importance of interpersonal connection to employee retention and facilitate social and networking events for their staff. With so many resources at your disposal, a little initiative goes a long way in forming and cementing positive relationships.

Introduce Yourself

New employees often find introducing themselves to co-workers a daunting task, regardless of their company's size. Fortunately, most employers facilitate introductions through email or a designated onboarding meeting. If their company does not coordinate these introductory gatherings, you should ask for support from your supervisor or human resources department. You can also take it upon yourself to personally meet your colleagues.

Initial introductions do not need to take a long time. During a busy work day, a smile or short greeting can suffice. If a colleague displays interest, you can engage in longer conversations. In these moments, the focus should be on remembering co-workers' names and interests, since these details help with follow-up meetings.

  • Practice Your Spiel

    Though it may seem contradictory, preparation represents one of the best ways for new employees to deliver natural and effective introductions. You should include your name and the position you occupy. A good introduction should also relay details of your experience so colleagues can get a sense of your processes and perspectives. By practicing your spiel beforehand, you can soothe your nerves and bolster your confidence. Also, by knowing what to say, you can devote your energy toward listening and putting to memory the details of your co-workers. Practice, especially in front of friends and family, also allows you to catch irrelevant or off-putting aspects of your introductions.

  • Look at an Organizational Chart

    Depending on its size, the structure of an organization may not be readily apparent to a new employee. You should contact the human resources department to ask for an organizational chart if one is not offered. This document gives a sense of whom to report to (your supervisors) and whom you can work with laterally (your immediate colleagues). An organizational chart also allows you to explore your company's other departments and programs. This information can lead to valuable connections and collaborative opportunities.

  • Take Initiative

    New employees who enthusiastically introduce themselves to colleagues and supervisors demonstrate a passion for their work and a willingness to communicate, learn, and help out. You can cultivate meaningful work relationships by acknowledging everyone you meet and remembering names. Once you have completed the initial rounds of introductions, you can seek follow-up conversations in small group settings or on a one-on-one basis. This may mean asking a colleague or two to coffee, lunch, and, eventually, after-work gatherings.

Settle In

As you settle into your new job and the initial awkwardness of introductions passes, you should continue to build connections with your colleagues in and outside your department. This process includes tactful observation of how your co-workers communicate and work. Through these observations, you also develop keen knowledge of your organization's culture, including office politics that you must learn to navigate. Professionals who understand their organization's values can effectively identify company-wide goals and perennial challenges. This information allows you to effectively assist colleagues, thereby demonstrating value and building a positive record for career advancement.

  • Find a Mentor

    On top of connecting with your colleagues, you will greatly benefit from finding a mentor who can provide the resources and guidance necessary to seek advancement opportunities. This relationship tends to develop naturally between employees and their supervisors. You should seek mentorship from individuals who display a willingness to help and a vested interest in your success. However, take care not to overburden potential mentors with questions and requests, instead relying first on your own initiative and problem-solving skills.

  • Socialize and Network

    You should go out of your way to socialize with your colleagues beyond cursory introductions. Focus on team members first, before expanding your circle to include co-workers in other departments. Networking entails asking the right questions about your colleague's work history and the nature of their current job. You should inquire about a colleague's short- and long-term goals and how you can work together to achieve these objectives. Networking also means building relationships outside of work by attending informal events and slowly getting to know your co-workers.

  • Learn, Learn, Learn!

    The first couple of weeks of a new job represents one of the best opportunities to show initiative, ask questions, make mistakes, and learn. As you settle into your position, take time to conduct research on the company's history, mission, and current projects. By learning about your employer's objective, you can better position yourself to create innovative solutions to major pain points. However, be careful not to take on too much. It's important to successfully manage the duties within your position and department before offering assistance elsewhere.

Set Good Habits

A new job means a fresh start and the opportunity to cultivate strong habits that ensure success on the first day of work and into the following weeks and months. Good habits start with mundane tasks, like setting a steady sleep schedule, maintaining a productive morning routine, and figuring out an efficient route to work. You should also organize your calendars and concretize to-do lists while adapting to the new systems and software that invariably arrive with a new office setting. Additionally, it is important during this period of transition to examine goals, analyze how these objectives align with your company's mission, and discern the relevant skills you can develop to facilitate career growth.

  • Be on Time

    Arriving to work on time is one of the easiest ways for new employees to cultivate a good reputation with their team and company. Punctuality reflects dependability, a quality that greatly bolsters your success and career longevity. To ensure that you arrive to work on time, prepare your morning routine the night before and get enough sleep. Before you leave the house, check local news websites and phone applications for potential traffic and public transportation delays.

  • Offer Your Help

    New employees often find themselves with downtime as their team adjusts to their presence and integrates them into the workflow. You should use this time to volunteer for additional tasks, offering to help colleagues with projects. By reaching out, you will demonstrate initiative to management and build rapport with others in your company. Assisting a co-worker also provides opportunities to ask questions and receive guidance. However, be sure not to overextend yourself. A few tasks completed well mean more than too many tasks finished haphazardly or not at all.

  • Set Boundaries

    As you settle into a new position, you may find yourself overcommitted in an attempt to gain the acceptance and trust of colleagues and supervisors. While this is a natural occurrence, it’s important to reestablish boundaries that help you do your best work and maintain a healthy life outside your job. Setting boundaries entails learning to say no in an assertive, but respectful manner. It also means combating the fear of missing out, which becomes easier once you have firmly established your priorities and goals.

Ask Questions

People expect new employees to ask questions. You can use these opportunities to discover important aspects about your company, including the overarching mission, monthly/quarterly/yearly goals, and major clients and organizational partners.You may also ask colleagues about the company's culture and formal and informal workplace etiquette.

It's also important to ask questions of your supervisors during regular meetings. After all, these individuals oversee employee coordination and evaluation and therefore possess in-depth knowledge of a company's values and objectives. To make the process easier, you can prioritize the information you want to gain and write down questions so as not to forget.

  • Define Success

    To grow their career and add value to their company, new employees must discern what success means to them and their employer. Reviewing the job description is a good place to start, but don’t shy away from asking your supervisors directly. During these meetings, you need to come prepared and drive the conversation. Focus your questioning on what the supervisor expects, what resources employees have at their disposal, and how the company conducts assessments.

  • Be Proactive

    You shouldn’t hesitate to ask questions if you are unsure of company procedures and policies. The best questions anticipate problems and work to prevent or avoid errors before they occur. These proactive inquiries require the asker to possess a working knowledge of company projects and challenges. As you receive answers, write these responses down to help you remember and develop follow-up questions. Committing questions and subsequent answers to paper is particularly important in the first few weeks of a new job, since you will no doubt receive an abundance of information.

Dealing With Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which professionals with demonstrable skills and accomplishments believe themselves to be intellectual frauds and fear that others will discover and expose their ineptitudes. According to a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, approximately 70% of individuals experience imposter syndrome at least once during their lives. For some, imposter syndrome is a rare occurrence. Others face this anxiety on a regular basis, with detrimental effects to their professional and personal well-being.

This section delves into the strategies you can use to combat imposter syndrome, beginning by breaking the silence surrounding it.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

You shouldn’t hide from your feelings. You can overcome your fears by recognizing imposter syndrome as a real challenge with real solutions. Imposter syndrome works by convincing people that false notions are real. Instead of dwelling on your apparent lack of skill, you should focus on the fact that another experienced professional in your field deemed you worthy of the position.

Confide in Someone You Trust

To deal with imposter syndrome, you should seek the support of friends, family members, and mentors. These individuals have an outside perspective and can provide reassurance by reminding you of your value and strengths. Within the workplace, carefully pick whom to talk to because not everyone wants to be a confidant or has your best interests in mind.

Challenge Your Thinking

You can overcome imposter syndrome by reasserting your worth and reminding yourself of your achievements. This process can entail documentation as you write down your personal story as if preparing to introduce yourself as an important keynote speaker. You can also flip the narrative, choosing to see imposter syndrome not as an obstacle but as an opportunity to demonstrate your skills and advance your career.

Condition New Thought Patterns

No one can erase imposter syndrome overnight. The process requires you to develop strategies and reinforce positive thoughts regularly over an extended period of time. On top of reminding yourself of your accomplishments, you should also recondition the way you speak and engage with co-workers. Instead of couching your questions and recommendations in uncertainty or playing down the value of your contributions, employ assertive language that champions your ideas and invites colleagues into a collaborative relationship.

Set Realistic Goals and Take Risks

Beyond positive thought exercises, professionals should take action and engage their imposter syndrome head on. This includes setting achievable goals and seeking objective standards for success as measured through performance reviews. You should also take risks, training yourself to see failure not as an inevitable conclusion but as a step toward success and growth. Imposter syndrome highlights a hopeless present condition. By regularly checking in with yourself as you forge ahead, you will see that you can effectively grow into an opportunity while coming to terms with your strengths and weaknesses.

Conclusion

As you begin the next chapter of your career, you should take the time to introduce yourself, form relationships with your colleagues, and settle into the position properly by conducting research and asking questions. It’s advisable to develop bonds with supervisors, who can offer immediate support and long-term mentorship. The guidance of a company leader also ensures that you understand your new duties, objectives, and resources.

After the initial stages of transition, you should continue to socialize during and after work hours. This can feel like a daunting task, particularly for those who are naturally introverted and watch extroverted colleagues handle social situations with ease. But the payoff for this investment is great, and the effort grows easier over time. By establishing good habits, you can consistently help colleagues while successfully attending to your own responsibilities. A healthy routine also allows you to maintain a work-life balance and avoid burnout.

When problems arise, you should look inward and seek the support of colleagues, mentors, family, and friends. Imposter syndrome represents a challenge for most individuals, and you can effectively combat this problem by reaffirming your value, reconditioning your thought patterns, and setting deliberate and worthwhile goals. Ultimately, successful professionals understand that they possess the tools to grow and succeed. They welcome challenges as opportunities to learn and, whenever possible, assist other people in their lives.