Onboarding: Tips for a New Job

Starting a new job can be intimidating. Now that the interview and hiring process is over, the time has come to begin navigating through the many people and departments you’ll be dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Everyone knows that first impressions are important, and a lot of first impressions are made in your first few weeks at a new company. Here are some tips you should try when navigating the uncharted waters of a new job.

Build the Reputation You Want From Day One

As you probably already know, first impressions are lasting impressions. It is important to establish a positive presence from your very first day. This means thinking about what reputation you’d like to project and developing it from the first minute in the office onward.

Be humble

Arguably the most important on the list – when you start a job, the last thing you should do is endlessly talk about the way you did things at your old company or presume that you know everything on day one.

Instead, come into a new job with a “beginner’s mind,” Austin said. That means listening, instead of talking, and really understanding what the needs of the organization and the personalities of the workforce are before coming to any conclusions.

Also, a new job is a time for learning – yes, you might have had success before in a similar position at a different company, but each organization is different. Find out what has worked (and what hasn’t) for your new organization, before assuming you are an expert.

This applies to bosses too. Instead of starting a job and immediately barking orders, meet with your colleagues and direct reports and learn from them. By doing that, you’ll be able to lead much more effectively, while gaining their respect.

Mirror your colleagues.

A bit controversial, but this advice is deeply rooted in human psychology. When starting a new job, it’s important that your colleagues like you and accept you. Fair or not, how much your colleagues accept you goes a long way to you succeeding in that role.

“Starting a new job is like joining a new tribe, and people can sense whether you belong or don’t. So, mirror your co-workers. You want to be perceived as part of the team. Dress as if you do.”

The quickest way to make someone like you when meeting them is finding a common bond you share, whether it be a sports team you both like or a friend you both know or whatever.

The point – people tend to like people who are like them. When starting a new job, dress and act in a way that reflects the organization’s culture, at least at first.

Meet with your new manager regularly 

A manager ultimately wants to get an employee to be able to take on a responsibility, so they don’t have to worry about it. Say you are hired to run email marketing – your boss wants to be able to fully trust that email marketing will go well under your watch, without them having to worry about each subject line that goes out.

But, to get to that point, you in your new role need to learn exactly what your boss is looking for and what the market demands. Hence, in the beginning it’s actually better to meet with your boss more, instead of less, as that’ll make them trust you faster, Austin said.

Ironically enough, this will lead to you actually requiring less guidance by your boss in the longterm. By meeting with them often early, learning from them and building trust, you’ll have much more freedom moving forward, which is a win-win for both you and your manager.

Listen to What Everyone Has to Say

A lot of information gets thrown at new employees in the first few days or weeks of a new job. It is important to absorb as much information as possible, even if some of it seems repetitive.
It’s also worth noting that some new employees think they only need to listen to their boss or the people in their department — this simply isn’t true. Sparking up conversations in the break room, parking lot, etc. is a great way to gain a better perspective of the company as a whole. Understanding the inner workings of a company is very useful for long-term career prospects.

Take Every Opportunity to Ask Questions

In addition to listening, new employees should also ask questions whenever possible. A year into a job, asking questions might be met with sideways glances. However, new employees are expected to ask lots of questions — after all, they’ve just started! It is important to take advantage of this “grace period” by asking as many questions as you want. Not only does this help build an understanding of the company and how to do the job, but it also helps start conversations and build relationships with your co-workers.

Build Professional Relationships With Everyone

You never know who might be a useful business contact some time down the line. Therefore, take every opportunity to initiate professional relationships with everyone in the office. This is a great way to build a long-term professional network, and being the “new” guy or girl is a unique opportunity.

Avoid Office Gossip (But Keep Your Ear to the Ground)

Office gossip is inevitable. Sooner or later everyone hears something. The key for new employees is to avoid engaging in gossip and “taking sides,” since it’s impossible to know who shares information with others. That being said, if office gossip is going on within earshot, there’s nothing wrong with keeping an ear on it.

Keep an Eye on Your Long-Term Goals

It’s easy to become consumed with the day-to-day workings at a new job. However, it’s important to keep everything in perspective. Always maintain an understanding of the job and how it relates to your long-term career goals. Make sure that any job you take meets or exceeds your expectations, and is a specific step in your long-term career goals. Starting a new job can be intimidating, but with preparation and the right mindset, it can be a powerful opportunity to bolster your career.

Posted in Career Guidance.