The first week of a new job — it’s exciting, exhilarating and for most of us — just a wee bit scary. After all, a lot is riding on that first week. Indeed, studies have shown that first impressions are made within a measly seven seconds! Even more significantly, first impressions can be hard to change. Don’t let that scare you though. With these tried and true methods, you’ll be sure make a great first impression.
1. Try what Forbes contributor, Lisa Quast calls, the S-T-U-D-Y method.
• S: “Survey your surroundings.” Learn your way around the office including where the coffee and restrooms are located, where your boss resides, who sits nearby, who works the front desk and what keys open the supply closet. During your lunch break, if not eating with colleagues, take a walk around the neighbourhood to learn where you can grab a quick sandwich or a latte on days when you need a pick-me-up. Extra points for bringing one back for the colleague in the next cube!
• T: “Take the time to analyse and learn the most important things.” Find out all you can about your new company, department and role. Study the website, read everything you can lay your hands on and ask lots of questions. Be sure you are knowledgeable about the business’s strategic goals, the expectations for your department and most importantly, for you!
• U: “Understand the people situation.” Figure out who’s whom. Learn the hierarchy and know where you fit in. That said, don’t limit yourself by reaching out only to those at your level. Be friendly and respectful to everyone you meet. Having good relationships with people at every rung of the corporate ladders will be a great asset to your career.
• D: Do not make hasty decisions and think before you speak. Sure, you’re anxious to contribute to your department and company, but tread lightly. Being critical of company policies and protocols before you know how and why they work, may turn off coworkers. Instead, sit back and listen at meetings and when in doubt, ask lots of questions.
• Y: “Yes you can!” says Quast. “No matter how overwhelmed you feel in your new position … just take a deep breath, remain calm, stay focused, and prioritise, prioritise, prioritise.”
2. Act like you’re still on an interview
Once you get the job, it’s only natural that you feel more relaxed. Yet, it’s still too early to let it all hang out. Case in point, in many jobs, employees must pass a probationary period of thirty days or more, before they can breathe a sign of relief. During your first week on the job, make sure to put your best foot forward by behaving appropriately. Be friendly, professional and do your best to fit in to the company culture, as you understand it so far. This is not the time to dress down, show up late or leave early, answer emails during meetings or make personal phone calls.
3. Get on board with onboarding
Be proactive when it comes to your orientation. This includes attending any new employee meetings, tours or activities, reading all materials that will prepare you for your job responsibilities, and going out of your way to meet coworkers. “When you attend onboarding training sessions, you are being given the gift of an instant professional network at your new company,” points out Forbes contributor, William Arruda. “The other newbies in the room likely come from different parts of the organisation, and your careers may grow together over the years. Those people will be extremely valuable to you if you take the time to build relationships with them.
4. Don’t wait to meet with your manager
Be proactive when it comes to meeting with your manager. The sooner you have a sit-down, the sooner you’ll be on the right track with your new job.
“Use that initial meeting to establish what they believe success will look like in the first week, month, and three months,” recommends Jenna Goudreau, Deputy Editor at Business Insider. “At the same time, if you're in a managerial position, it's important to begin setting expectations with your direct reports,” Goudreau says.
5. Get organised!
It’s often the case that the first week of a new job is fairly quiet. Take advantage of this time and create organisational systems that will help you do your job well once the pace picks up.
“The best way to stay organised is to get organised right from the beginning,” says Elana Lyn of Levo. “Create Gmail or Outlook folders, create the organised email inbox you’ve been dreaming about since you were a little girl, make desktop folders and a document filing system — in short, go crazy,” Lyn says.
6. Think ahead
During your first week, create 30, 60 and 90-day plans to keep your professional goals in mind in the early months of your new job. “By planning out your goals of the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job, you have created your own vision and you are sure to take advantage of your full potential as a new hire,” says Heather Huhman of Glass Door. “Your 30/60/90 plan is your written path from a new hire to an effective leader. By organising and prioritising, you can make the most out of the initial stages of your new job.”