Day 1 at the new job: What not to do even if you're the hotshot geek

CCIE Recruiter Eman Conde cautions that finally landing that new job doesn't mean you can relax. Even if you're the new hotshot geek on staff, it's easy to slip up on the first day. Here's his advice for how to get off to the right start.

When you start that new job and first enter the new personal work space and take it all in, you may face a lot of uncertainties along with the excitement of starting a new job. It makes me think of the Talking Heads' song, "Once in a Lifetime": You may ask yourself, "Well, how did I get here?"

Well, how did I get here?

Take a look back to see how your journey landed you here. There was the decision to leave your old company, there was that ragged old resume that needed sprucing up, there were the interviews and there was finally, the offer/s. What did you do and say to land that new job? All the talking heads that spoke with you and screened, prodded, and vetted you were for a reason. They were looking for the best they could find and agree on. Your resume was not a work of fiction was it? Your professional history (resume) accurately depicted you as who you were in the different stages of your career. The story was compelling and supported by the confidence it instilled in the hiring manager and his boss. You prevailed and you got here because you asked for it. You got the job because you were the best choice.

And you may ask yourself, how do I work this?

No, it's not "the same as it ever was" - don't start your new job with the same Pavlovian responses from your past. Really, think twice before you respond to familiar-looking or -sounding conversations. If you respond the way you did before you might be dragging baggage around that you no longer need. The old job changed you and this new job will do it too. It takes time to acclimate to the new community.

The talking heads in the interviews may have numbered many or just a few, but you will need to connect with those around you, and those first contacts can help. First impressions linger long, so be yourself and don't pretend to be something you're not. Making good connections with your peers and coworkers is important, and it's a level playing field on Day 1, so get the introductions done and take your time getting to know people. It is not a good idea to talk bad about people from your old job. Duh, people know each other. Hello!

Work place hierarchies will emerge. Figure this part out with help from your boss. Don't allow the water cooler to hold you hostage too soon. Inevitably, there will be someone who wants to influence you by bringing you up to speed on what's going on from their perspective. Be wary until you get to know everyone on your own. If you are seen with one person too long, there may be others who will be less comfortable around you.

For some other great "First Day No-No's" see Dr. Julia's Advice. She has a Top 10 list, including:


Probably not the best idea to get into an argument with a coworker (or otherwise) on your first day. Best to let them call the sky green for now.

Too Friendly

You may be glad it's your coworker's birthday, but they do not want to stop by your house at 7:00 for some cake and ice-cream. Just be pleasant - don't weird people out!

Confuse the CEO with the Pizza Delivery Guy

It's best to know who the bigwigs are in order to avoid an uncomfortable situation. Complaining about the cold pizza to the CEO is probably just as bad as asking the pizza guy for his signature on a million dollar invoice.

Advice abounds for the new guy or gal on the job, but for us in IT, there is no subtle similarity to other jobs. We compete with each other. The current reigning geek might feel intimidated and since they are probably better connected than you on Day 1, it is a good idea to give them some respect. Being friendly with the team is important and not ruffling feathers too much in your delivery is a good idea.

More talking heads

There was a collection of talking heads that decided to lure you onto the team. That gaggle of geeks will surely become part of your peer group. Learn about them get to know who they are and don't start out by looking for their technical weaknesses; give it time. If you are a highly certified geek then you will invariably be pushed in front of some technical issues the rest may not quite understand. You might find yourself with Parrots and Shoulder Surfers -- those folks who could not fix the problems without you. Yet they will stand in the audience and judge. Pressure? Sure there's going to be pressure. Just remember try not to cuss (#9 from Dr. Julia). There will be talk both good and bad; remember not everyone is going to like you and you are not going to like everyone. So take the high ground by being the polite one and survive your first day.

The talking heads in your office and your network can be an infinite source of information if you allow yourself to learn from them.

What's the worst no-no you've ever seen committed on an IT pro's first day at a new job? Feel free to share your own missteps, as well.