Ready, Set, Go!

Aug. 14, 2007
Tips and advice for starting a new job

So you braved the job search. You cleaned up your resume, got it out there on the market, prepared for and went on several interviews, including one interview that you nailed. Great! Good for you! But now what?

The interview process, the wage negotiations, it’s all over so you can sit back relax and just show up the first day and hope for the best, right? Wrong! The first hours, days, and months at a job are very vital. You are continuously making an impression on those who thought you were the man, or woman, for the job.

Starting a new job can be an intimidating experience, almost as intimidating as the interview itself. What is the proper attire? Who will you report to? Who will report to you? There are a lot of unknowns. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prepare for the first days and more when starting your new career at a new company or a new position at your current employer.

According to the Employee Policy Foundation, a quarter of new hires will not make it to a full year of employment. Thinking cup half full one might say it’s nice to have a full year to prove your skills. In reality it’s the first impression that affects how you are perceived the rest of that year. Consider this when it comes to your first day of work.

Start smart
Plan to arrive a little early on your first day. Not too early, to the point where you end up waiting in the parking lot for the building to open up, but more like 15 to 30 minutes early. It is better to be in a situation where you have time to kill by going over notes or enjoying a cup of coffee than scrambling in late, having had to search for a parking spot. If the interview wasn’t held on site make the drive on your own beforehand so it can be timed properly.

There may be heavier traffic in the morning hours, take this into consideration as well.

Being late your first day of work is almost as bad as being late for the interview. If you do end up running late, be sure to call your supervisor well ahead of time and be ready to give a legitimate and honest reason for why you will be tardy.

Upon arrival enter with a smile on your face and greet those you pass. Be polite to everyone, at this point you have no idea how much influence or power the tool room attendant may have.

There is a lot to learn about a company in addition to the general job duties that were probably laid out at the time of the job offer or acceptance. A good way to start preparing yourself for your new job is to do some research. Typically some research is done before the actual job interview. Take some time before starting your job to do additional research on the company. Once you start, continue to gain knowledge on the organization from the inside. It may prove effective to thoroughly review the written job description, employee manuals, and other company-produced documents. Learn the organizational culture, both written and unwritten.

While there is usually a large amount of training and general information provided by the company, it is often your new coworkers that can offer the best perspective on the corporate culture. When you feel comfortable, try to get to know your coworkers. Ask about how much time they have spent working with the company, and how they arrived at their current postition. This could offer some enlightening information on their experiences within the company.

While you have their attention this is a good time to ask any other questions that you may have. Where is the supply room? How do I dispose of hazardous materials? Don’t be afraid to ask questions. As a new employee you are in the best position for gaining information. Take advantage of it! People will inderstand that the procedures are new to you and respect your desire to be well informed before taking action. It is better to ask questions and have things clarified right away than to try something on your own and end up having to fix it later.

While learning about the company’s procedures, coworkers’ names, and other important information, it may seem like a lot is coming at you all at once. That is because it is. Don’t be afraid to take notes. Bring a small notepad and a pen around with you on your first day or two. Taking notes will help you to learn quicker and retain more.

Be a people person
After establishing your responsibilities and learning more about the organization, start developing relationships with your coworkers. It is good to be interested in your coworkers’ lives, but you don’t want to be too inquisitive or nosy. Ask about their interests and try to find things that you may have in common. At this point it is always good to listen more than you talk. People enjoy sharing their stories and will get easily annoyed if you spend an entire conversation talking about yourself.

Be friendly and open with your coworkers, but do not offer up too much personal information right away. You want to stay away from any topic that may be offensive. It is also a good idea to avoid office politics or gossip. To further build relationships with others, invite them to lunch or ask to join them.

Establishing social relationships with coworkers has its benefits, but you also want them to view you professionally. Offer your assistance on projects and other tasks. It is always better to volunteer help than it is to turn down extra work. This shows a team spirit and strong work ethic. At the same time, don’t take on more that you can handle or you will appear unsuccessful at completing tasks or the quality of your work will suffer.

If other employees participate in afterwork activities, it can be both fun and beneficial to join in. It is a great opportunity for networking. However, you want to remain on your best behavior even if it is afterhours. If there is drinking involved it would be smart to have no more than one drink. Remember that just because it is offsite or afterhours doesn’t mean it won’t reflect on your professional image and can influence decision making when it comes to promotions or raises.

Personal development
Throughout our careers and personal lives it is important to set goals. When starting at your new employer, set goals early on. Acquire information about growth opportunities and decide what your goals will be within the organization. By starting your new position with a clear vision of where you want to end up and developing a strategic plan for getting there, you are more likely to succeed.

Whether you are interested in developing a new tool tracking system for in the hangar, or moving up a rung on the ladder, goals can help keep you focused on tasks.

Develop both short-term and long-term goals. After deciding your goals draft a detailed plan for how to achieve them. The plan should include any obstacles that may get in your way and plans to overcome them. Talk to your supervisor. Ask what he or she would like to see you accomplish in the next few months. Add these to your goals.

In addition to career specific goals, continue to set daily goals. It may be as simple as to meet new people or share an idea in a meeting. Whatever they may be, make sure you are always working toward the goals of the organization as a whole.

In starting your new job it is important to think about the past, present, and future. You want to remember all that you learned and the people you met at past jobs. Keeping these ties and building off that information can be very beneficial in any future job searches. Focusing on the present should mean adapting to a new culture and learning their way of doing things. It is entirely acceptable to share your past techniques and experiences if you think it is helpful information, but you do not want to complain about current procedures or practices. Throughout your time with your new employer, think about what your work there can do for your future and how long those first impressions you make will truly last.