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4 Tactical Tips for Your First Days at a New Job

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Starting a new job should mean new adventures, new possibilities, and new outfits. However, the reality is usually far less glamorous. During my time at LivingSocial, I’ve trained hundreds of new hires, and I watched as some instantly demonstrated their capability, while others tripped over their shoelaces (figuratively speaking). Even experienced managers sometimes fall victim to amateur mistakes, so here’s a list of four tips to help guide you in your first 30 days on the job.

1. Build Relationships

Being the new person in the room, you may be waiting for a colleague or manager to introduce you to everyone else. However, they may not remember to do it! That doesn’t mean you get a free pass; you should never miss an opportunity to introduce yourself. On the crooked path of networking, you never know who’s going to recommend you for your next plum project or future position.

My insider tip is to not just meet everyone in every room, keep notes on who was there. When you go back to your desk, send each of them a personalized email saying that you enjoyed meeting them and you hope your paths cross again. I like to use a uniform subject line for these notes (ex. “Lovely to meet you!”) so when I search my inbox, I have a listing of everyone I met and the date I met them.

2. Show excitement for your role.

The most painful new hire interaction I ever witnessed was when someone in his first day on the job openly asked about applying for a new position within the company. Though it may be tempting to put yourself forward as a candidate, most companies expect you to be in your position for three to six months before they’ll even consider you for an internal transfer. Also, asking about other opportunities may cause people to question your loyalty and enthusiasm.

If you do hear about openings in a department that really excite you, see if you can get to know people who work there. When you casually ask them about their projects over coffee, it seems as if you’re demonstrating an interest in both them and the company, not like you’re sniffing out your next move.

3. Know when to ask questions and when to go it alone.

As a new hire, there are a lot of things you won’t know. This ranges from not understanding how to use the phone system (a sometimes embarrassing reality) to being unsure of the organization’s strategic priorities. You want to make sure you’re asking the right questions, or else you may seem like the office mosquito.

Keep a notepad by your desk and write down your questions. You’ll be shocked by how many you cross off on your own. After you have four to five questions collected, you’ll be prepared to approach your manager with an organized list. As he or she answers your questions, make sure to take careful notes and listen for how they found the answer. That way, you won’t have to ask them for help next time!

4. Learn how to be a casual professional.

Some office environments are extremely buttoned up, while others are far more relaxed. I’ve worked in both, and what I’ve seen is that one type of person always prevails—the casual professional.

A casual professional never compromises on the fundamentals of professionalism: being on time to everything, accountable for her work, and extremely respectful of her colleagues. However, she also understands how to authentically represent who she is as a person. Successful professionals often end up working long hours, and it’s neither fun nor realistic to only talk about work. You should selectively let your colleagues know a bit more about you–it’ll humanize you and make you more fun to be around.

Please be warned that it can be difficult to strike a good balance, so to make sure you’re on the right side of casual, watch the behavior of people who are admired at all levels of the organization. If you think they’d do it, go for it. This may mean telling your co-workers about a non work-related interest (food, sports, and the arts are usually safe), or buying beer for your colleagues at the end of a particularly rough (or awesome!) week.

Whether you’re starting today or in two years, please know we’re wishing you the best of luck in your new role.

Have you recently started a new job? What do you wish you had done differently during your first month?

Ask Levo mentor Sierra Tishgart about her first month on the job!

Photo: Thinkstock

Topics:

Coworkers #Work Relationships #New Job Career Advice
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For me, my first few weeks in Corporate America were incredibly overwhelming. I felt like I wasn't prepared for the role I was hired for and it was such a horrible feeling. After a meeting with my manager one day, it all seemed to fall into place. Many jobs (especially in IT, where I am) know that you will not have a full skill set. They know you will struggle. They know you are going to learn slowly. At that point, I gave myself an attitude adjustment and learned how to appreciate the small accomplishments and to celebrate progress. I am not going to be perfect at my new role, but I will get there. By being excited to learn new things and seeing challenges as new opportunities, my experience has been phenomenal. I was the only one who could change my mindset and I did, and its been a great journey since!

Betsy Smith
Betsy Smith

What great insight, Dawn!

I'm approaching four months at my new job and tip #1 is going on my "must do" list. I wish I would have learned about it sooner. Working at a corporate company with 2000+ employees and having to work with countless teams across various brands can be daunting when you're the new kid on the block. Thank you for sharing!

Betsy Smith
Betsy Smith

Thank you for reading the article, Tobi. Best of luck in your new role -- I'm sure you're already wowing 'em.

Great article! #4 is one I continue to work on. It's never good enough to just show up, do the job and go home. It's super important to bring your personality to work with you as well. I wish I had known this during my internships!

Perfect timing on this article as I just started a new internship this morning! #1 and #4 hit very close to home for me. I tend to be very shy and sometimes need to be reminded that I have to pull myself out of my shell more or I can come off and snobish. Also, the company I was hired with is a brand new tech startup, imagine very casual tech programmer types.

Thanks so much for the article, I think I am going to have to sticky note this in my planner for a daily reminder the next few weeks!

Betsy Smith
Betsy Smith

Great point -- it's extra hard to balance being a casual professional as an intern.

Betsy Smith
Betsy Smith

This made me smile really big. I'm so excited for you, Natasha! I hope your internship goes really well. The whole Levo team will be rooting for you.

Naina Jaidka
Naina Jaidka

In “league" with point# 3 - know when to ask questions, but more importantly, know when to speak up. Don’t wait to be a “seasoned” employee to provide value - a one week old intern in our department spoke up in a meeting, and intelligently pointed out the obvious (something we were missing, because we were so attached and invested in a concept). We were annoyed that we needed to start over from scratch, but she was absolutely correct and her instant contribution did not go unnoticed.

Naina Jaidka
Naina Jaidka

In “league" with point# 3 - know when to ask questions, but more importantly, know when to speak up. Don’t wait to be a “seasoned” employee to provide value - a one week old intern in our department spoke up in a meeting, and intelligently pointed out the obvious (something we were missing, because we were so attached and invested in a concept). We were annoyed that we needed to start over from scratch, but she was absolutely correct and her instant contribution did not go unnoticed.

I'm in my first month at a new job right now, and I'm currently working on finding the right balance for #3. Sometimes it seems so easy to ask the person next to me for the information I'm looking for, but I'm trying to be better about finding the information for myself when I can. I have to learn to be more self-sufficient, and I definitely don't want to be a nuisance.

I'm starting a new job in a couple of weeks- my first "career path" job- and I will definitely be following this advice! I really want to start off on a strong note and set myself up to be successful there.

Ashley JH
Ashley JH

I'm beginning a new job tomorrow and I am a bit nervous but I'm reading a ton of articles like this one to feel less anxious.

Great advice! I can't wait to put these to practice when I find a new job!


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