To excel at your new job, avoid these early mistakes
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
It’s a tired old adage, but one that still rings true, especially when starting a new job. Taking your place among new colleagues is a daunting prospect, particularly if you’re joining a large team. For better or worse, all eyes will be on you for the first few weeks ‒ a crucial period for any new start. Not only will co-workers be trying to get your measure, but it’s a fleeting chance to set the tone of your future with the company. Don’t worry though, we’re here to warn you about the common mistakes new hires make so you can avoid them yourself.
Don’t be shy
It’s customary that a new recruit is made welcome in the workplace ‒ you’ll doubtless find colleagues and bosses approaching you with their greetings. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be proactive yourself.
Get into the habit of introducing yourself to everyone you meet in the first few weeks. A warm smile and a gracious handshake is your best bet for this ‒ friendly but professional. If they’re close team members, a slightly more fulsome introduction may be called for, committing to memory their first name and surname, where they sit, etc.
And a bit of on-the-ground advice: Don’t eat lunch alone! A solitary meal can speak to an anti-social disposition, something you certainly don’t want to convey.
Don’t be too friendly
Exuding warmth and congeniality is crucial in a new role, but it’s easy to overdo it. Keep your interactions with colleagues professional, and don’t stray into personal territory too quickly.
One reason for this is that you don’t want to earn a bothersome reputation ‒ that new person who’s trying too hard to be liked. Once your initial introductions are made, don’t strive too hard to integrate yourself with the team members. Light and friendly conversation is ideal ‒ sucking up with all the flattery you can muster isn’t.
Don’t hide your full skill set …
Having survived the rigours of the selection process, you’re no doubt qualified for the role. But application forms, interviews and assessment centres are no longer the focus. Now is the time to show your full range of abilities.
That means, unsurprisingly, really committing yourself to your job. Work especially hard in those first few weeks and seize any opportunities that can demonstrate your full potential. If management are looking for volunteers for a special project, put yourself in the mix; if the chance of on-the-job travel arises, get your name down. Even if you aren’t chosen because you’re so new, your proactiveness won’t go unnoticed. Plus, your exertions early on will go a long way to convince bosses of your value, setting the stage for future advancement.
… But don’t burn out
It’s all about balance, however. Burning the midnight oil looks impressive once in a while, but if you’re continuously working late, you’re going to run out of steam. Winning your bosses’ approval in the early days is important, but not if it comes at the cost of your health.
And more than anything, your new employer will be looking for sustained results and job longevity. Working yourself to the bone in the first few weeks won’t inspire much confidence in them.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
One key factor in avoiding burnout is acknowledging that you can’t get everything right all the time, especially when you’re in a new role. If there’s something you can’t quite wrap your head around, rest assured that asking for assistance won’t reflect badly on you.
Quite the opposite, actually. A new recruit who’s willing to seek help shows a determination to ensure their work’s tip-top, even when it means swallowing their pride. Likewise, stubbornly refusing to ask for assistance will only make bosses doubt an employee’s commitment to the highest standards.
The first few weeks in a new post is a fraught time for any employee. Being sociable seems obvious, but amid the new-job madness, it can easily slip the mind. Being overly friendly can backfire though, as can working too hard too early. So keep a cool head, apply yourself, show off your skills and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll be off to a flying start.
Written by: Alasdair Lane