Acing Your First Month on the Job

by Vault Careers | August 25, 2011

  • My Vault

Making a good first impression is critical for laying the groundwork of a successful career at an employer. How many times have you judged a person from an initial meeting? Your new boss and co-workers may similarly judge you during your first few weeks on the job. Start strong, and continue your stellar work habits so that you build your reputation as a reliable professional and an asset. Below are some tips for a successful start to your new job.

professional holding folders, business woman
First In, Last Out

One of the worst things you can do on your first day at a new job is to arrive late. Being tardy is a definite no-no in trying to establish yourself as reliable. Pick your outfit and prepare everything you’ll bring with you the night before, figure out how long your commute will take, plan for traffic or delays and arrive at the office before you’re expected there—not five minutes after. The same goes for leaving at the end of the day: don’t be the first to beeline for the door, or it will look like you’re counting down the seconds to closing time, rather than remaining engaged in your work. That doesn’t mean you have to stay hours past shutdown without anything to do. But be mindful of the office culture and habits, and make sure that you’re present and ready when you’re expected to be.

Shine those Shoes

Many offices boast business casual or even casual dress codes nowadays. And while there is nothing wrong with adhering to your new company’s wardrobe policy, you should take a little more care in your appearance during your first few weeks on the job. Pesky first impressions stem from how we look as well, so show them what you’ve got when it comes to professional attire and rack up your brownie points for being well-put-together.

Take Notes

Your first days on the job will likely include how-to sessions and meetings to discuss your tasks. As you dart from one meeting to the next, don’t forget your netbook, iPad, or good old pen and paper—whichever means you use to take notes. Unless you have a photographic memory like Mike Ross on Suits, you may become overwhelmed with all of the new processes you need to learn and tasks you are given to complete. Plus, keeping track of your responsibilities will help you stay organized—key for making a good impression—and taking notes will demonstrate your organization and level of commitment.

Be Organized

Speaking of being organized, be on top of orderliness from the start: create email folders to keep track of important messages for various topics; devise a logical filing system for your electronic and paper documents so that you can easily find something when your boss asks for it; save contact information for important contacts; create and update a to-do list of all of your projects and assignments (which will be easy once you’ve taken notes on all of your tasks); and develop deadlines for yourself so that you stay on top of your work. Don’t disappoint your boss by forgetting about a task—get your projects done on time, and brand yourself as trustworthy.

Go Rah Rah for your Job

A new job is an exciting opportunity, and even if you aren’t gung-ho about your new position, you should still approach it with enthusiasm. Show your new boss that you are eager and interested in your work, so that he or she knows that you want to be there.

Be Respectful

Building respect requires giving respect. Don’t stroll into your new job with a chip on your shoulder and your nose in the air. Don’t forget: you’re the new kid. Instead, take time to learn about how the company operates, what processes it uses, what roles people fill and how their positions interact with yours. Figure out where you fit, rather than trying to mold the company to how you operate. Of course, taking initiative and brainstorming ways to better the company are great career-building steps, but make sure that you don’t overstep your bounds the minute you walk through the door.

--Mary Kate Sheridan, Vault.com

Filed Under: Networking | Workplace Issues

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