Starting a new job? Congratulations! Now that you've left the comfort of the familiar, you may be confronted by the pressures of having to learn new work processes, meet new people, and possibly understand new industries in a very short time frame. To help you get off to a great start, we’ve compiled these battle-tested strategies for surviving the first few weeks and months at a new job. Keep reading to learn more about what you should do to succeed at your new job.
What do I need to do before starting a new job?
Do your research. Look up the people you’ll be working with, the company, and the position. Review your contract and the original job listing to get a better idea of what you’re really responsible for.
You should also scope out the area surrounding your workplace. Are there any good coffee shops, restaurants, or places where you can run errands nearby? Take advantage of your location to get the most out of your day before and after work.
And don’t forget to be confident! Whether you get confidence from exercising or learning a new skill, make sure you’re prioritizing your own self esteem. Going into the job with confidence in yourself makes it easier to think clearly and get work done.
Understanding how to succeed in a new job
Work towards setting goals and developing the skills needed to succeed in your job. This will help you identify what additional training and certification you might need.
Be open-minded and willing to try new behaviors. If the behaviors that worked for you in your last job are not working for you in this new job, then don’t assume they will as time goes on.
Stand out from the rest of the group and work with the organization's values at the front of your mind. This strategy will help you build momentum and credibility. It's also beneficial for your reputation.
Be the best you can be at your job. Record all the good work that you have done and share it with your boss when it's time for a review.
Don’t forget to pass the first week test. Survive the first week at your new job by doing these three things really well:
- Take down notes on everything
- Network like a professional
- Reflect on how you can really add value to the organization
If you’re just now returning to the office post-COVID, establishing these good habits now will make the transition easier and more productive.
Top tips when starting a new job
1. Observe the environment
Situation: Everything's new! You don't know who's who and you're still trying to figure out the unwritten rules of the office. The office supplies are hidden and the coffee machine works differently than the one at your last company. If you're working remotely, you may be unsure how to use everything and what your best home office desk set-up looks like. On top of everything else, you're dragged into a dozen different meetings regarding projects that are already running, but which you've only just learned about in the last 15 minutes. How do you handle it all?
Solution: Sit down and burrow through everything you can access on the network drives: old marketing materials, pricing specs, customer testimonials, contracts, memorandums. Read everything you can and take notes.
Find a project management web application (such as Wrike) or a note-taking app that can capture all this new information and allow you to organize it into appropriate buckets that you can customize.
- Jot down the names of people you meet
- Attach a soft copy of the org chart and building plan
- Outline protocols and processes as you stumble across them
- Find out who to turn to when you have questions
- File bookmarks to all reference websites and articles you'll need to return to
- Keep a log of all account usernames and passwords
2. Introduce yourself effectively
Situation: You don't know anyone when starting a new job. You have to memorize at least a dozen names. You also have to figure out who you'll be working with and under. There'll be a lot of new personalities and questions thrown your way. Despite how stressful the situation is, you only get one chance at a good first impression. But how do you introduce yourself effectively under all this pressure?
Solution: The first tip to introducing yourself in any professional setting is to tell your name and what you do. This isn’t about job titles, though. It’s important to consider the context of who you’re talking to. Your job title does not mean much if you are not a CEO or a chief officer. It is better to talk about what your job does in relation to the other person’s position instead of what it means to you.
In professional settings, it’s important to note what you bring to the table and how you contribute to the company or project. Be professional, casual, and to the point.
If you're still nervous about meeting new people, ask your management team to try some group icebreakers or suggest them yourself.
3. Try to build relationships
Situation: Sure, you may have been introduced to everyone. But you still have a ton of unanswered questions and your hiring manager may not always be the right person to answer them. How do you deal with this?
Solution: This only means one thing: networking. You need to make friends, build relationships, and in doing so, figure out who knows where the office supplies are stored, who can explain the process for filing annual leave, and who knows the good places to eat or park.
Sure, having the org chart in your note-taking software will help you connect the dots as to who does what. But really, the best way to get to know people when starting a new job is to share info, and offer to help when you can. You can then get some help in return.
4. Ask a lot of questions
Situation: Your job description is new and vague. The interviews gave you an introduction to the company and your boss, but now that you're actually here, the path is not clearly marked. How do you proceed?
Solution: Sit down with your project management tool or a simple pen and paper, and map it all out so it becomes clearer. Start by outlining the answers to the following questions:
- What's the purpose of your role?
- Who's your customer, i.e. who are you generating value for? It could be internal (colleagues, manager, direct reports) or external (paid customers, agencies, suppliers, freelancers) or a combination of both
- What are your customers' needs and expectations?
- What tasks do you need to do to fulfill those expectations?
- What resources and input do you require to execute on those tasks?
- Who can you turn to for help?
5. Learn how to enjoy your new job
Situation: Not every job we take is our dream job. There are pros and cons to every position. The cons may not be immediately apparent until after you start. After a few days or weeks, you may find that your new job isn't what you expected. But you put in a lot of effort to get it and you need the money. How do you learn to love where you are now?
Solution: Focus on what makes you happy at your new job. Is it the compensation? The hours? The impact? This will help you tackle the tough parts of the job.
If you already see a potential issue with your quality of life at work, make a change now rather than waiting.
If this role is a stepping stone, take control of your next steps right from the beginning. Who says you have to wait years for a promotion? Take advantage of the programs and continuing education that your employer offers.
Lastly, consider your environment. Decluttering your office can help you feel more energized. Replace the artwork, bring in photos, and use office supplies that you actually like..
6. Challenge yourself
Situation: You're overwhelmed with all of your new tasks, apps, and co-workers. You're not sure where to put your focus and it feels as if you can't quite get your head above water. You feel defeated before you begin.
Solution: Instead of allowing your job to challenge you, try challenging yourself instead. This means setting up mini goals and benchmarks for yourself so that you can measure your own idea of success in this new role. Whether it's getting through three tasks a day or simply spending an hour learning about your new position, you get to determine whether or not you're doing a great job.
7. Work hard
Situation: Sure, it's only your first week, but you have to prove your worth. How does one create value in such a short amount of time?
Solution: You have the advantage of seeing everything with new eyes. Find small opportunities for improvement that you can immediately contribute to, and go for it.
8. Have a good understanding of policies
Situation: All workplaces have a set of policies that employees must follow. While it may seem like just a formality, you may have just found yourself in hot water after violating one of them shortly after starting your new job. What do you do now?
Solution: If there's a HR department, set up a meeting with them to go over the policy. Even if they supplied a written document with these rules, speaking to someone about them face-to-face will give you the opportunity to ask questions. You can ask about example scenarios or how you can improve your behavior in the future.
Also, make sure the HR rep you speak to understands your work history and personal values. That way, if something does come up later on, they can use this context when giving you feedback.
9. Keep clear communication with colleagues
Situation: You're not sure how to get a hold of someone, ask questions or collaborate on a task. You've got an Excel spreadsheet with everyone's emails and phone numbers but you're not sure which to use for each individual. You may also have instant messaging apps to juggle.
Solution: Keep a written log of everyone's communication preferences. Some may prefer a quick chat on Slack while others would rather you email them and wait patiently for a response. Also, make sure to ask plenty of questions about how communication typically works in the office now. When starting a new job, you may not need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to communication at your workplace.
10. Give yourself time to adjust
Situation: Everything in life has just changed. Since taking this new job, you've had to deal with a new commute, workspace, team, products, end schedule. You're overwhelmed and you're trying to do a good job at the same time. How do you find balance?
Solution: Starting a new job is a great opportunity to show yourself more empathy. Adjust your expectations for your own performance and know that your coworkers will likely understand that you're going through a transition period. Practice self-care both in and out of the workplace.
Hopefully, your first week is a great success. You only get one chance to make a good first impression; use these tips to get it right. Live up to all the good stuff you wrote in your resume, and turn even the most stressful onboarding situation into a victory. Use Wrike to organize all of your new personal and work projects as you transition. Start your free trial today.