What to expect from your first job.
Other than getting married, few things make us more apprehensive than starting a new job. Simultaneously exciting and nerve-racking, there’s so much to consider that feeling a little uncertain is perfectly natural. However, by taking time to plan and prepare pays real dividends and helps to ensure your new role is a success.
With that in mind, we thought we’d give you some sage advice for when you take that first step.
If you have time between accepting the offer and starting the job, ask your new employer if you can call in and meet your new colleagues. This will make your first official day so much easier as you will know who everyone is (even if you can’t yet remember every name) and they will know you. Lunchtime is often a good time for this because you’re less likely to disturb people while they’re working, and you might even share a bite to eat with them. Failing that, you could always arrange to meet them for a drink after work.
Once the job is under way, it is wise to spend a short time observing your new surroundings. That’s certainly not to say you shouldn’t participate – but allow part of your attention to focus on the ways the company, and your team, operate. Every organisation has its quirks and habits – an understanding of these will really help you to settle in.
Feel free to make good friends quickly, but not at the expense of other colleagues. Indeed, you should take the opportunity to introduce yourself to as many people as possible (in a huge firm, you may have to restrict this to the co-workers with whom you’ll be in regular contact). Inevitably you’ll click with some people more readily than others, but it’s important everyone knows you’re happy to help and ready do a professional job.
Unless you’ve been specifically hired to ‘shake things up’ – and in a first job this isn’t likely – be careful not raise objections or contentious opinions in your first few months. Obviously a good employer will welcome your input and points-of-view, but only when you have won the trust of your team and the wider company. There’s everything to be gained from being an objective listener and a supportive team member while you establish yourself.
Identifying role models is also advisable. Some firms will allocate you a mentor – a time-served staff member tasked with guiding you through your introductory period. Take the chance to learn from them and ask any important questions which arise. But there’s no reason not to look further for particularly effective colleagues. Notice what makes them productive and successful. You needn’t copy everything they do, but their methods and behaviours will certainly give you a bit of an edge.
It’s possible you’ll also notice staff with bad habits (poor time-keeping, missed deadlines and such like). Don’t assume their practices are tolerated by your new employer – they may well be on the verge of being dismissed!
Ambition is a healthy and positive attribute, and working towards promotion and advancement should never be discouraged. Nevertheless, there’s a good argument for parking these desires while you build firm foundations in your first post. None of your managerial colleagues reached their senior position in a matter of weeks – so don’t expect too much, too quickly. The very best way to move upwards is to prove yourself to be completely adept at your current role and able to manage your responsibilities with confidence and skill. That takes time and patience.
When and if it rears its head, avoid involvement in office ‘politics’. Should you find yourself exposed to gossip, rumours or unreasonable complaining, always be diplomatic but don’t be drawn in. Taking sides in petty disputes is rarely advantageous and usually serves no purpose other than to distract you from your work – making it less enjoyable.
It’s important you enjoy your work so, although your fundamental tasks and responsibilities will be clear from your contract and job description, you should also seek ways to be creative and make the role your own. Without encroaching on the systems or territories of your colleagues, begin to find ways to make yourself more efficient and productive. Once you have a firm grasp of your job, you’ll soon find ways you can improve and become an invaluable asset.
Above all, ensure you reward your new employer’s faith in you. Let them know you appreciate the opportunity and they have made the right decision in hiring you. Remember, there’s no such thing as the perfect job, and you are bound to meet challenges and surprises along the way. But broadly speaking, you will get as much out of any job as you put into it.
So work hard, have fun and be flexible enough to adjust your expectations to match the environment in which you find yourself.
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