Starting a new job can be stressful, as you endeavor to learn the lay of the land as it relates to your new company’s culture and the specifics of your job. If you properly prepare yourself for the experience, however, it doesn’t have to be this way. The following tips are designed to help you survive (and thrive) in your first week on a job.
Before you even show up for work make sure to be thoroughly prepared for the job. Read all training manuals and other such material provided by the company. In addition, make inquiries as to what, if any, forms you will need to bring to work in the first week. You should also determine in advance how long your commute will take and what type of parking facilities are available once you make it there.
You should do your best to arrive early during your initial week on the job, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area where your employer is located. Needless to say, showing up late to work during the first week is not the best way to make a good first impression!
Don’t Try to Learn Everything at Once
Reading the company policies and procedures manual will only take you so far when it comes to learning your role at the company and what is expected of you. While you should pay careful attention to your surroundings and everything you are told during the first week, don’t try to become an expert all at once.
Instead, focus on doing the tasks assigned to you well, while gradually learning more about the company’s expectations of you going forward. One way to speed this process along is to read through everything the company provides related to your position about past business efforts and plans going forward.
Some tips for getting up to speed during your first week:
- Make your own notes on the company’s policies and procedures covering the areas most relevant to your position
- Draw up a flow chart of the people your position reports to
- Make a note of the various online resources you will need to access in the course of performing your duties
- Note all of the account names you will need to use in accessing company systems
- Create a folder or file for your personal job-related notes
Make Friends and Learn from People
While you will no doubt be busy learning the ropes and working on whatever initial tasks the company assigns you, it is still a good idea to try begin building relationships with your co-workers. In addition to offering advice that can help you do your job, forming bonds with your colleagues can help your career in the long run.
Finding friends at work can also benefit you in other ways, such as helping you deal with unexpected issues that may arise and acquainting you with office politics, especially as they relate to your position with the company. Each company has a unique corporate culture, and getting to know a variety of your coworkers is the best way to become acquainted with the company’s culture and what it entails.
Some companies, for example, are more formal than others, with strict adherence to chains of command and office protocol. Other companies prefer a more casual approach, with executives often following an open-door policy and encouraging subordinates to both come up with new ideas and to challenge existing ones. The more you know about your company’s culture, the more able you will be to handle the work you are assigned.
Follow the Dress Code
If you are unsure about the dress code, be sure to inquire as to what the company expects of its employees in this regard. While your attire may not be the most important part of your job description, you don’t want to make a bad first impression by dressing inappropriately.
Showing up in blue jeans while everyone else is in suits would be an unfortunate fashion faux pas, just as the opposite would be true in a more casual workplace. Some offices have casual Fridays, while others require employees to wear suitable office attire at all times. Make understanding what is and is not appropriate attire at your new company a priority during your first week at work.
Look for Ways to Improve Things
Don’t let the fact that you are new to the job keep you from trying to improve things where appropriate. Given that you have the advantage of being new to the company you may see things that more seasoned team members have overlooked or taken for granted. Coming up with ideas involving productivity improvements would certainly mean a big white ball for you.
One way to find areas where improvements can be made is to ask questions about how things are done, without being annoying about it, of course. In addition to helping you learn what is expected of you it offers a chance to determine if there are places where the company’s policies and procedures can be improved. Use your ability to look at things with fresh eyes to come up with insights that your colleagues, who are used to doing things a certain way, may have missed.
Determine What Your Role is
While you have been hired to fill a certain position and to perform certain tasks, it’s difficult to ascertain exactly what your role comprises until you actually go to work at a company. Use your first week at work to learn as much as possible about your job responsibilities. To do this focus on the following questions:
- What are the stated duties assigned to your position?
- Who benefits from your role? In other words, who do you report to or create value for, whether inside or outside of the firm?
- What deliverables are expected from you? Above and beyond the duties you perform, what are the outcomes you are expected to generate?
- What can you use to help generate these results? This includes materials, learning resources, or human resources associated with your role that enable you to produce the desired deliverables.
Answering these questions should give you all the information you need to determine the skills you will need and the steps you will need to take to satisfactorily do the job you have been hired to do.
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