To get you headed in the right direction from day one, I thought about many of the common mistakes that had been shared with me over the years and then tested these out with individuals who lead talent and recruiting organizations with Fortune 500 firms. Here is our collective wisdom on this topic, so you can avoid many of the pitfalls that have befallen the less well prepared.
“Start” before you start…
- Before your scheduled start date, inquire of your employer if there are materials or resources that you should review ahead of time or if there is anything else you can do to prepare before you start work.
- Complete any hiring forms and paperwork ahead of time and make sure to bring any required documentation with you on the first day.
- Follow your new company on various professional and social networking sites and in mainstream media to make sure you are in the know about any developments (bad or good) that might impact your new employer. You don’t want to be caught unaware if everyone is discussing some major issue or development and you have no idea what they are referring to.
Your work reputation begins before you know it…
You’ve heard it a million times but I’ll say it again: first impressions can be lasting impressions. In an increasingly competitive and demanding work culture your co-workers will form an impression of you quickly. Make it a positive one!
- Show up early and make this a habit. Dress appropriately for the job but don’t be afraid to step it up a bit for special meetings, clients, or events.
- Be respectful and polite to everyone – especially administrative and support staff whose opinions often influence senior players. Make everyone you work with feel important, valued, and respected.
- Avoid the “I’m new” excuse. Be ready to work, take on an assignment, and deliver on it. If you can find the answers yourself, great, but if you need help or clarification, ask before you get too far into the project.
- Know the rules. Most companies have policies on accessing social media, phone calls, and other technology during work. Make sure you know and abide by these guidelines.
- Be the “go to” person. Volunteer for projects and be willing to take on more work or assist your boss or co-workers. Be willing to come in early or stay late. This is not the time to make extensive after work plans, as you want to have the flexibility to take on additional work if necessary. Be sure to thank people, share credit, and give compliments when appropriate.
- Work within the system. If you have a great idea, think it through, anticipate the questions, and then bring it to your boss or team. Don’t let your enthusiasm cause you to send this to the CEO and make what could be a fatal error to your career advancement.
Engage with your co-workers
- Go to lunch, invite a colleague to coffee, or have a drink after work. If you receive invitations, accept them if you can. This will let you get to know your co-workers and they you. As an added bonus, you are likely to learn important information that can be helpful in your new job.
- Avoid the drama. Since workplaces are made up of people, every work environment has a certain amount of personal stuff going on. Don’t get caught up in it. Be a good listener and don’t take sides in office conflicts.
In some ways getting the job is much easier than being successful in it and in turn leveraging each workplace experience and opportunity toward the next step in your career. Just perform well and follow the advice here and you’ll be well on your way!