Most of us have felt the adrenaline rush that is characteristic of turning a new leaf, especially if it is something that we’ve diligently worked to attain. Recently, I started a new job. Not only did I wait a long time for this perfect opportunity to come by, but I also had to go through an extensive interview procedure, which comprised of verbal, numerical, and logic assessments, as well as business cases and numerous rigorous one on one meetings.
It is no surprise that when I received the job offer, I was giddy with excitement and could not wait to start in my new role and company. As a person, I love to be prepared and organized, especially when charting into unfamiliar territory – this time around, a different business function and industry.
To prepare myself for this new endeavor, I brainstormed by reading articles regarding what practices will ensure that I have the smoothest start. As a side task in my previous job, I led training for the new starters in the company. So, I also reflected on what were some of the best practices I had observed new hires follow while working at my old company.
This exercise enabled me to compile a long list. In this post, I am sharing the most important points from my list which can help you be on top of your game from day one at a new job. Without further ado, let’s get right into it!
1. Reflect On Past Performance Reviews
You should be doing this on a regular basis, but especially now that you will be starting fresh at a new company.
Reflect on feedback that was provided to you in the past by fellow classmates, professors, mentors, colleagues, and friends on your skills and behavior. Use your reflections to devise a plan on how you will use the feedback in a constructive way at the new job. If you received feedback regarding weak data analysis skills, it is true you cannot become a data analysis expert overnight, but you could still learn the basics in an online course, such as that offered at Lynda.com. Similarly, if you have been told previously you need to become a better listener or better team player, this is the time to act on that advice.
Take note of all past feedback provided to you, including your strengths, and write action points that you should remain mindful of from day one at the job.
2. Dress A Notch Up
Do not underestimate the power of first impressions. Personally, it takes me no longer than five to ten seconds to form my first opinion on a person I have just met. Most of that opinion is of course based on appearance, so appearance is important, more so if you work in a client-facing environment.
During your interviews, notice how people in the company are dressed. Based on that observation, dress a notch up in your first few weeks.
3. Take Initiative
I cannot stress this one enough! Don’t fool yourself that just because it is your first day or week in a new setting, HR or your line management will spoon feed you. You must take control of your arrangements from day one (read hour one). For example, need to request a laptop? Find out who in IT is responsible for it. IT does not respond? Find out alternative contacts and keep on top of your request by constantly following-up.
Ask questions instead of keeping them to yourself. Nobody will help you if they do not know and understand the problem you have. My philosophy is that in your first week you have full discretion to ask as many questions as you want.
4. Source All Resources
It is possible that you require a corporate credit card, locker, laptop, phone, etcetera from your company for your role. Find out the appropriate procedures to request access and follow-up until you have the resources you need. Personally, I do not think you should let this stretch any further than a week otherwise it will begin impacting your daily performance at work.
5. Sort All HR Matters
Almost always, you have to provide copies of several documents like your ID and diploma, as well as complete forms, such as those related to pension and income tax. It is best to make a list of all your actions due toward HR on your first day and complete them all within your first week to avoid any hiccups in your work later on.
6. Take Notes And Review Them
It is critical that you take notes during your initial days. You will be inundated with information that you naturally will not absorb immediately. But if you take extensive notes then you can always return to them for answers in the future.
Allocate a few hours after work to review the notes you made during the day. This helps retain information and will help make you look sharp when a colleague says, “Remember we discussed that earlier this week?”
Instead of saying, “Oh, let me look through my notes” or “There has been so much information, I forgot,” you will say “Yes, I remember!”
Do not take notes to never look at them again. Take notes to regularly review them.
7. Create A Spreadsheet of Key Contacts
This is particularly important if you are starting in a large corporation with a complex matrix structure or have a role that requires widespread stakeholder management. During your first few days, you will meet many new people at work and some of them you will be expected to work with more closely than others. Therefore, it is crucial for you to know these people and vice versa.
I recommend sitting down with your buddy or manager for a few minutes and creating a spread sheet of key contacts/stakeholders with their full names, titles, and departments. If you know specific projects/office locations associated with these people, write that down too. For face recognition, in case all people are not in your home office, run the names on a LinkedIn search. You will find pictures for most of your contacts.
This exercise will not only help you learn the firm better, but also will show your initiative and make you look informed.
8. Understand Personal Development Objectives
Often companies will provide you with a list of probation objectives for the first month or a development plan for the first quarter – you get the idea! Whether or not you have been provided something along those lines, schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss your personal development plan and objectives of the role for short periods like first month, first three months, and first six months.
This will help you understand both short and long term goals clearly. Clarity will allow you to remain focused and prioritize better in the coming months.
From this point onward, it is really common sense…be polite, sociable, curious! And, don’t be afraid to show your funny bone – envious if you have one because mine is missing since circa ’92.
If you have additional tips that you would like to share, please leave them in the comments so we can all learn from them. And if you would like me to research any other aspects of the working life and write about them, feel free to drop me a message. Good luck!