Software

Five tips for fitting in when you start a new job

When you begin a new job, it's easy to get a little carried away trying to impress your boss and coworkers. Here's some practical advice for getting off to the right start.

You just landed a new job, and you're understandably eager to make a good impression on your boss and your colleagues. First impressions are important -- right or wrong, they can determine how you're perceived for the rest of your days with the company. So take it easy and don't try too hard. Here are some tips for easing into your new job without alienating anyone.

Note: These tips are based on an entry in our Career Management blog.

1: Don't rush it

There's an episode of The Andy Griffith Show in which a stranger arrives in town. No one knows him but he knows everything about everyone else. His familiarity toward people freaks everyone out and they turn against him. In the end, everyone learns that he knew all about Mayberry because he had read their town paper while he was in the service and he fell in love with the town. He wanted to belong but went about it the wrong way.

The moral of the story is to take your time getting to know your colleagues. Absorb the culture for a while before you start working yourself into the mix.

2: Don't come in with all your guns blazing

I don't mean that literally, although literally it's not a bad tip either. What I mean is don't come into your new job with the attitude that you know all the answers. You may have lots of experience, but you run the risk of suggesting things that have already been done. It's an indirect way of insulting your new employer's intelligence. Also, no matter how much people age, every group harbors a little of that middle school mentality -- there's not much tolerance for showoffs. And there's no such thing as instant credibility.

3: Avoid gossiping

When I first started out in the working world, I encountered some office environments where you were treated with suspicion if you didn't indulge in gossip. But the bottom line is, gossiping can lead to big problems. First, it's risky to gossip when you don't even know all the players yet. Second, if you're good at it, you could get a reputation that is not easy to shake off in the eyes of those who make the promoting decisions.

4: Be a quick study

Take lots of notes when folks are instructing you. Although it's tempting to act like you absorb information instantly, in the long run people don't want you coming back and asking the same questions over and over.

5: Take the initiative

Many companies have clearly outlined training strategies in which they schedule you in blocks of time. If you find you have time between appointments, don't just sit around and drink coffee. Use that time to ask questions about what you've already learned or do online research.

A good impression

Ultimately, the best advice you can take is to use the first weeks to absorb information about your new company and its processes. You don't have to make a big splash your first day.

Other tips?

Have you ever gotten off to a rocky start on a new job? What other advice would you add to this list?

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

5 comments
The Dream
The Dream

Someone shared a story with me that fits in with this thread. In fact I exhibited some of those traits but I finally learned that while displaying technical proficiency and efficiency are important most people are just as impressed with how you carry yourself, treat other people and respect their knowledge. I would drop a tidbit of knowledge around people and quickly learned that it did not matter. The story: A newbie was given a position in a company and definitely came in guns blazing. He was a "I going to do this, change that, fix this, why don't you try it this way" type of person out of the gate before the ink on his first check dried (figuratively speaking of course). As a result many co-workers just preferred not to work with him or worked with him as little as possible. Not sure how the manager handled this. Not that his talent or abilities were in question, but his approach to people and their work affected their view of him and most did not desire to work with him because they knew that he would try to dominate the discussion, take over the project or force his two cents into the equation and would frequently give recommendation on how to fix this process or change this program when no one asked for any input. There are also reports that this person tried to manipulate other workers to get what he wanted and crossed technical boundaries on more than one occasion. As a result, he was viewed as untrustworthy by many colleagues. I was told that several co-workers kindly took him aside to give him the pep talk about his work style, but he did not change. As far as I know he has not committed any fire-able offenses, and still works for the company, but his style of work may have cost him a promotion or two because that "I am smarter than you approach" has stuck with him. Lesson learned, hopefully

ThatITGuyTy
ThatITGuyTy

I would like to chime in on Being a quick study; I am guilty of acting as though I understand everything that is told to me the first time when I know that I didn't even remotely understand anything. I have gotten better at listening and hearing what was asked of me and I also ask lots of questions.

Dented
Dented

One of the problems I had at my new job was how to address people. For instance, we have a couple of powerful women in the front office, and I'd hear some people use their first names, others would say "Ms. ******"" using their last names. When in doubt, use an honorific.

jtjenkins213
jtjenkins213

In this case, even if people are calling them by their first name, I'd still call them Mr. **** or Mrs. **** unless they say to call them something else. A "yes/no sir" "yes/no ma'am" goes a long way too.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Some of the managers in the stores I support prefer Mr. or Ms., so that's what I use. I've known some of them so long, though, that Mr. Davis has become Mr. D and Ms. Jones has become Ms. J.

Editor's Picks