Tips on handling a new job

April 2008

HandshakeSettling into a new job role can seem a daunting prospect. How will your colleagues view you? Will you live up to their expectations? Will you settle in quickly? Alan Patterson, of Carlton Resource Solutions, advises on new job etiquette and how to ease through this transition period.

'New beginnings are always fraught with trepidation and understandably so. Being the new kid on the block, working in an unfamiliar environment with new procedures and faces and trying to make a good impression can leave your head buzzing.
 
'Try to live up to the image you portrayed at the interview and remember you wouldn't have been hired if they did not think you have the potential to do the job. Treat your first day like an interview and be very aware of your appearance and attitude as these are always the first to be judged. If all else fails a smile, being courteous and polite and a good listener really can break the ice and people will warm to this,' he said.
 
Alan advises of the top dos and don'ts when stepping into a new job role:

Do:

  • Background research. Before you step into your new role do all you can to increase your awareness of the organisation. Look at the company website, familiarise yourself with key members of staff and know the company ethos. This will boost your confidence, give you a positive frame of mind and reduce the steepness of the learning curve when you do begin.
  • Establish preferred communication networks within the company. These can differ greatly from job to job. Word of mouth, memos, email and committees are all differing forms of communication which are frequently used. Don't take the fact that your previous employer favoured emailed messages for granted as your new employer may not.   
  • Be aware of what sort of procedures or rules operate - written or oral. For instance concerning health and welfare, discrimination, etc. Reading any training manuals and health and safety literature shows a willingness to learn and a sense of commitment to the company.
  • Have a clear job description. If you do not already have a job description, ask for one, and then try to define as clearly as you can the boundaries of your job. You are not seeking to establish the minimum acceptable benchmarks, but frontiers within which you can make your best contribution. Do this constructively and as soon as you can. The first month is ideal. Six months later is too late; your questions will be interpreted rather less generously.
  • Think about your image. Understand what the employer feels is appropriate to your job in terms of appearance, clothes, life-style and  attitude - and follow this.
  • Know your key priorities. The day to day priorities of the job need to be established so that you can understand the proportion of time you should be giving to each. Knowing how to manage your time effectively will give you the best out of your working day and allow you to complete the daily tasks that are required of you within your new role.  

Don't:

  • Have any attendance/punctuality issues in the first few days or weeks. You will loose your employer's confidence in you immediately, before you even begin. Bad timekeeping is a pet hate of the majority of employers.
  • Constantly say how you used to do it in your last job. Organisations vary drastically even though they work within the same sector. Variety is the spice of life as they say, so try out the ways in which your new organisation works, and you could see the benefits.
  • Criticise your new, or former, employers or colleagues. This will not win you any new best friends. Staff who have been with an organisation for some time will often be asked their opinion of new team members from management and this can have a strong bearing over who stays and who goes.
  • Get ahead of yourself. New employees should be aware of their standing within the company and if employed in a junior role should not be striving to become the MD within the first week. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious and having goals, however, keep your suggestions and offer these at suitable times or when prompted. 

'Your colleagues will understand that the transition period in a new job role will take some time and some adapt faster than others. The main emphasis should be on willingness to learn, listening and above all being courteous and punctual. If all these things are in place then a long and prosperous career in your new organisation is inevitable.'