New Job Jitters: 10 Tips for Starting off on the Right Foot

By Janice Burch, Co-owner, Pro Resume Center, LLC

Do you get new job jitters? I can relate – with each position I’ve ever held. First impressions can help or hinder your perceived value in a company. You’re busy trying to remember names and duties, new processes and procedures, office hierarchy, client nuances and paperwork deadlines while performing all the required tasks perfectly, staying on your feet to provide valuable input at meetings, while balancing other facets of your life – home, kids, bills.

It can be overwhelming.

But rest assured you can create followers, allies and supporters in those first few months of a new job.

Just take a breath and remember that everyone else in the company had to start fresh too, and also learned how to navigate their way around the office and find their way up the chain. With a few key points in mind, you will do the same.

Top Tips to Start Your New Job RightHere are my top 10 tips to remember in order to shine a positive light on yourself during your first week, month and beyond:

1) Introduce Yourself…

…to everyone you meet! Did you meet someone in the elevator? How about the coffee counter?  Lobby? Start making new connections. Making connections now within your department will help when you get stuck on a task or have a question and don’t want to go to the boss with it. Make it a point to meet at least one new person in every area of the company – accounting, IT, front desk, support staff, HR – in your first month. This will be helpful when your company laptop crashes the day before your big proposal is due, or you have questions about sick time or need admin help with a last minute client request plopped on your desk at 4:45 p.m.

2) Set proper expectations

First, make sure to set a meeting with your boss and ensure you understand what they believe success looks like in your role over the next week as well as the next 30 and 90 days. Second, if you have employees under you, make sure you set time aside to meet with everyone and understand their tasks and help them understand your role and needs. Get your team on the same page.

3) Find a “go-to” work friend whom you can learn from

Find one or two people within the company who have been there for awhile and understand the ins and outs of the company. Find the person who can explain some of the office politics, protocol, hot buttons and unwritten history so you can quickly warm up to the water and feel more comfortable diving into office conversations, staff meetings and more.

Learn the breakroom rules.4) Figure out the break room rules

This may seem silly but ever been at a job where everyone goes nuts if someone does something they shouldn’t in the break room? Be the one who figures out ahead of time what NOT to do.  Maybe it’s knowing which is the “communal” shelf in the fridge, how long items should be left in the fridge, who does the dishes (Cleaning staff? Does everyone do their own?)

5) Set good habits

Did bad habits get in the way of your success at your last job? Take action now to prevent it again. Give yourself the gift of staying organized. Starting on day one.   Suggest you set aside 15 minutes at the end of each day to capture the day’s activities, lay out your to-do list for the next day and make notes of any important tips you learned that day that will help you succeed with this company. Use lists, use the task function in Outlook, use posty notes on your calendar hanging in your office – whatever it takes.  Doing this will save you inordinate amounts of time going forward and show your attention to detail – something bosses are watching for at every turn and take into consideration when review time and promotions come around.

6) Time to come through on what you sold the hiring manager

If you drove home during the interview that you have incredible writing skills and can bring tremendous value to the client newsletter or the company website, or would want to revise their current CMS, it’s time to  put your money where your mouth is – get to work on it. Show your boss that you aren’t just talk and that you can deliver on results. Show initiative and that you are percolating ideas right away to help improve the workplace, the company, the client experience.  I promise, this will take you far.

7) Reconnect with old co-workers

Reconnect with your past colleagues on LinkedIn and when appropriate, ask for recommendations. Your new co-workers are going to start connecting with you on LinkedIn and wouldn’t it be great for them to see all of the great recommendations your past co-workers/bosses/clients provided? Be smart in how you reach out and ask for this – take the time to write a personal note on the LinkedIn “request recommendations” component – don’t just send the standard built-in message they have in place. That’s too impersonal. Let them know you appreciated their assistance/guidance/business in your former position and that you value their recommendation on your skills and ability to provide results. Thank them profusely for doing this and then offer to do the same for them, where appropriate.

8) Establish new connections

As a continuation of the previous point, now is the time to connect with your new co-workers. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated with your new work info, and start sending connection requests after you meet someone new that is part of your new position- colleague or client. Remember every touch point you make with your new co-workers, bosses, clients and staff members helps create an impression of who you are and what they can expect from you in the future – you want them to know to expect great things.

9) Draft your future resume

During your first month on the job, take the time to write what you want your future resume to look like after 1, 3, and 5 years with the company. Why do this? It helps you set goals and will help you drive your success. You want to be able to say your efforts resulted in a 50% increase in sales for the company within the first two years? Put it on your future resume and figure out how you’re going to get there – starting now. It will provide motivation and help you clarify your role and direction in the company. Of course, the resume is just for your viewing – at this point. But in the next few years if you think of moving on, you’ll have an incredible list of results to show. This brings me to the last but not least important tip I have for you as you begin your new job….

Connect with new co-workers during the first week.10) Keep track of your successes

The many clients who have worked with me on job search materials know that one of the biggest things I ask from them in order to make their CV or resume stand out is a list of successes and accomplishments from past positions. You’d be surprised at how many top level executives and mid-level managers have not kept track of their successes. This is what makes you stand out when you apply for your next position – a list of job responsibilities does not.  Do yourself a favor – from day one commit to yourself to do a monthly or weekly write-up on the impact your work has made on your department, company, clients, revenue and more. It’s so much easier to do this in the moment when things are fresh in your mind rather than six years down the road when you have to redo your resume for the next job. Did you bring in new business this month? How much? Did you find a way to cut inventory stock and overhead costs? By how much? Did your website tweaks result in more traffic to the site and improved leads to conversions? Track it. Having a document showing the results you have created for your company will also be very valuable come performance review time with your supervisor.

Good luck on the new job – go forth and prosper!

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