Updated: Dec 13, 2020
The first day of any job is a learning experience. When you’re making the move from one job to another, you’ll find yourself doing a great deal of re-learning: the corporate culture, the work process, the systems, even how to use the photocopier. Although you may think of yourself as a seasoned expert in terms of the work you’ve been hired to do, you are “the new guy/girl” in the eyes of your new colleagues. The worst impression you can make in your first few weeks is that of someone who knows it all already – or, at least, thinks they know it all.
As you remain in your new position, you will absorb the nature of the workplace until you feel comfortable explaining it to others who come after you. For now, however, treat your first day on the job like your first-ever day as a full-time professional. That means looking to your supervisor and your team for guidance and trusting their judgment until they come to trust yours. Here are some job transitioning tips:
1. Learn how to do things the new employer’s way.
Every workplace has habits, and those habits are what you’ll be taught as you settle into your job. Perhaps you performed the same tasks at your previous company – only differently. Maybe even in a better way, in your opinion. But now is not the time to say so. Get accustomed to performing the task the way you are instructed. You may even see why those instructions make sense for one workplace and not the other. When you’ve established yourself as an essential team member, you can suggest improvements that would make your job easier.
2. Avoid badmouthing your last employer.
On the other hand, maybe the workplace you left for this one didn’t get anything right, and leaving was the best decision you’ve ever made. Feel free to say so to your friends, your family, or your dog – but not to your co-workers. They might find your horror stories amusing, but that’s not a guarantee. It’s likelier that you’ll forge a reputation as someone who is willing to burn bridges. That won’t bode well for your prospects at this company, especially if your work involves managing relationships.
3. Avoid praising your last employer too much.
On the other hand, it’s not a good idea to share too many positive accounts of your last workplace, either. For one thing, as mentioned in tip #1, you may come off as too critical of the current company’s way of getting things done before you can afford to be. For another, unless your ex-employer folded up completely, your new colleagues will start to wonder why you left at all. Even if everyone knows it isn’t, treat a new job as a completely clean break. Focus on doing your best work now instead of keeping your mindset in the past.
4. Only bring the supplies you think you’ll need.
Maybe you left your last job with a Bankers Box full of personal items: pictures, books, desk ornaments, a novelty pen that writes in eight colors. Don’t take any of those things with you on your first day at your new job. It may be frowned upon to have too many objects on your desk, especially if you have to share that desk with other people. The most important things to bring on day one are a notebook, a pen, and any forms you’ve been asked to fill out. Once you’ve seen other people’s desks, you can figure out what to do with the Bankers Box.
5. Ask about the dress code before your start day.
If you’ve had similar jobs to this one, you probably have an idea of what people in your position wear to work. But that’s just an idea; there may be more rules about office dress than you’re aware of, and the principle of “dress more nicely than you think you should” may not be enough. Feel free to send the human resources manager an e-mail asking exactly what the dress code is. That way, not only will you be obeying the rules, but you’ll be able to plan your first-day outfit well ahead of time, without any last-minute fashion shows in your bedroom.
6. Keep introducing yourself
If you haven’t been introduced to everyone already, don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor if he or she is willing to introduce you to people. Try your best to curb any anxiety you may have. In the first days of a new job, you want your enthusiasm to shine through. So, find the timing that feels right and give a quick, energetic introduction to the people you don’t know yet. You should, of course, state your name and the role you are taking on. It can be helpful to share a quick snapshot of your experience to give your new co-workers a sense of your background.
7. Ask relevant questions.
Research has shown that new employees perform better when they ask more questions. In your first few weeks, you want to find the right time to ask questions. Ask questions to learn more about your team, it’s important to get a sense of what your day-to-day working relationship will look like. Ask what the most important projects are. You will want to know what the most time-sensitive projects you should be focusing on are. Another good question to ask is about preferred methods of communication. It’s a good idea to figure out how members of your team and other departments you’ll be working with prefer to regularly communicate.
8. Find a friend.
Learn co-workers’ names quickly, and use them when speaking to them. This is sure the leave a positive impression. Once you have made your proper introductions, ask a new colleague to lunch or coffee. It could be the person sitting next to you or another newcomer who started at the same time. You can also take advantage of the opportunity while at the office, to chat with co-workers in the kitchen, before a meeting, in the hallway, etc. By fostering a relationship with a co-worker, you’ll feel more comfortable as you’re getting to know the new office.
9. Know what’s expected of you.
Don’t make assumptions based on what you’ve heard about the position, or even what you’ve read online about the company. Your new colleagues will expect you to approach the job with an open mind, so you can quickly learn what you need in order to succeed. Your boss will expect certain things of you, but in turn, you also have the right to expect things of your boss. Knowing what’s expected of you is an important element of success at every stage of your career path. The best trick? Be direct. Ask your boss how you can be successful and what exactly he or she is looking for from you.
10. Transition towards autonomy.
Your first couple of weeks on the job are likely to be a fire-hose to the face of new information. It’s completely understandable if you feel somewhat overwhelmed. However, it’s crucial you are learning as much as possible about your new environment. Hopefully, your new team will be generous in helping on-board you smoothly. Take advantage! Listen, ask and absorb as much as possible to allow yourself to become self-sufficient quickly. Ask relevant questions that will help bring you up to speed. Having a new team member equipped with the knowledge necessary to be successful is what your new team really needs.
11. Ask for feedback.
It’s important to actively solicit feedback from your new boss, and colleagues for that matter, within your first few weeks on the job. It is essential to ensure that you are starting off on the right track and meeting their expectations. It’s in the first few weeks that you will want to be proactive and give others a chance to help you correct any issues they may have noticed in your work. Additionally, asking for feedback will show your desire to learn and improve.
12. Don’t stress too much.
A new job is exciting! Think of it as the next opportunity in your growing career path. There is a lot of information upfront, and don’t expect to learn everything all at once. If you feel yourself getting a tad bit stressed, take a deep breath, collect yourself, and remember that you were a qualified candidate they wanted on their team. Even though you’re bringing your skills and experience to the company, it’s natural for it all to take a little time for it to all fall into place.
13. Stop and reflect.
Stop and reflect a few weeks into your new position. Use this time to assess what has gone well and what hasn’t. Ask your supervisor to provide feedback and guidance where you feel it’s needed. This is your chance to change course and make any adjustments to your process at work. Try to remember that change can feel overwhelming. Be sure to believe in your abilities and accept constructive criticism, it will make any change easier to conquer.