WORKPLACE / DEC. 10, 2013
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Your Guide to Surviving the First Five Days in a New Job

It’s the first week in a new job and you are surrounded by strange faces. This position was not easy to find and definitely not easy to clinch. Now all you have to do is live up to those amazing talents you boasted about during the interview, so no pressure then! The first five days are vital stepping stones in your career as they can make or break your time with the company. Follow these steps to continue moving forward and advancing in your position. Ignore them and the only way you will be heading is towards unemployment. The next five days are going to be one of the most important weeks of your life!

Let’s take a look at how you made it this far. You sifted through endless job vacancies searching for the perfect role. You painstakingly filled in every detail of the application form, impressed the interviewer and received that congratulations letter. The company are now waiting to see you pull out all the stops and put those promises into action. They are convinced that you are the missing link they need so badly. Remember…your CV is your written version of you so it is up to do it justice.

Your aim is to be a blessing to the company rather than a burden so impress, impress, impress and do not fall short of anything other than perfect.

Granted, this is all new territory for you but this could be the place where you spend the rest of your working life, so it is important to start off on a good footing. Introduce yourself to your new ‘work family’ straight away so as you feel comfortable with each other. Those crucial moments when eyes first meet are when lasting impressions are formed. Bring out your charming side and be courteous and obliging to every member of staff including the cleaner as she may well be married to the boss!

For the first week, you will have to be more accommodating than usual whilst you cement a positive foundation for the future.

Approachable is now your middle name:

From now on, you only see things one way which is optimistically. Nothing can pull a team together better than an infectious upbeat ‘can do’ attitude. Integrate positivity and enthusiasm into any task and you will find that your colleagues are keen and eager to work with you.

Keep your private life private:

The minute you walk through the door, leave your personal life behind. Always enter the building with a big smile on your face and show people that you are genuinely pleased to see them.  

Dress the part:

Okay, you knew you would have to scrub up well for the interview but now you have landed the job you want to play down the suit a little because everyone else seems to have a smart, casual dress sense. In time, you can lose the formality a bit but for the present, you should remain polished and professional until you have fully blended in.

The next five days are going to be very unpredictable, you do not know the lay of the land and anything could be sprung upon you at a moment’s notice. For example, the boss may call you into his office, or you could be asked to attend an important meeting. The way you present yourself is an indicator of how people will treat you three months from now. Exaggerate the pride you take in your appearance and this will show others that you have a good eye for detail and great organisational skills. Someone who dresses as a professional is more likely to be treated like one….so aim to keep the powers that be very interested in your professional appearance and you could end up being considered for promotion when the opportunity arises.

A hundred people with one mission:

Your work colleagues are a vital cog in a well- oiled machine. They are the people with whom you will brush alongside every single day so you need to gel. Show appreciation for everything that they do and in return, offer helpful solutions or generate ideas which will benefit them. Just a few words of praise is often all it takes to lift the spirits…a complement here and there is a great way to win someone over and keep those feelings of camaraderie strong.

The name game:

Now, this is vital…if you have a terrible memory for names you need to create a system which will help you remember each and every person fast. The best way to do this is to pick an outstanding feature and make it rhyme with their name. For example, Eileen from HR has a lazy eye so mentally relate to her as “Eyeleen”. Use this system for people with hard to remember names and come Friday you should have mastered at good few!

Don’t go it alone:

Although you are expected to deliver and your boss will expect results fast, you cannot burst into the office with all guns blazing on your first day, expecting to make big changes. This is your settling in period so don’t feel that you have to commandeer everything and get it right first time, no-one likes a “know it all” anyway. Show your human side and ask team members for assistance should a problem arise. People love to help and when you appreciate their input, you sew those vital threads of union which demonstrates that you are keen to blend in and become that extra pair of hands that are needed.

Take note:

During the first week, you may feel mentally challenged and overloaded. Keep a pad and pen handy for taking notes when you are being introduced to new set ups and systems. Whilst someone will happily run through things with you once or twice, it can become tiresome if they have to keep repeating themselves. This also eats into productivity and creates the impression that you are not really interested in what you are being taught. Far better to sit down with a colleague and run through the process once whilst you take notes , that way you appear to pick things up fast.

Keep yourself busy:

The first few weeks are a chance to learn things from the bottom up. Tasks may not be too challenging and, if successfully completed will lead on to more complex and structured duties. If you feel that you are able to cope with a larger volume of work, don’t be afraid to mention it to your superiors. If you finish work quickly, ask colleagues if they would like a hand with any of their tasks. Don’t sit idly swinging on the chair, doodling or drinking coffee. There will always be someone who is overworked and stressed. Offer to lighten the load and you will continue to become an asset to the team.

No clock watching allowed:

Always arrive at work on time but avoid leaving dead on 5pm as this could undo all of that early morning effort. If you are working on a project which really needs to be completed, stay behind and finish it. By showing commitment you present yourself as someone who is ambitious, stimulated, focussed and dedicated to achieving results. As you become more settled in, you may be in a better position to leave at 5pm or even take work home with you but in the early days, a stay behind attitude is essential.

No time for illness:

The one thing you can achieve every single day without any formal training is punctuality. This means being in the office at 9am sharp (or whenever your day begins). Your career must come first and you should want to be in the office more than anything else in the world. So…no days off for the first week or even the first three months! Colleagues need to know that you will be there in the morning. They will expect to see you sat at your desk as sure as night will follow day.

Keep it to yourself:

In a close-knit environment it is easy to become entangled with office chit chat. A smile, head nod or any form of agreement can put you in a vulnerable position. Try not to show any opinion or acknowledgement of office politics. As time passes, you may be in a better position to share your thoughts but for now, keep a lid on any opinions even if you agree with what is being said.

No time for private life:

Employees will often help themselves to office perks. Whilst working at the computer many will open several windows so as they can toggle between an excel data sheet and personal email. Others may use the phone at lunchtime to call their nearest and dearest. Whilst they may feel comfortable using the office as a ‘home from home’, your mind should be focussed on work. Remember…you left home behind the moment you closed the front door this morning.

After hour drinks:

If the team like to meet socially, ask to be included. Meeting colleagues in an informal environment is a great way to let down your social barriers and allow more of your personality to shine through. But remember…these are not your personal friends, they are people with whom you work with every single day so keep alcoholic drinks to a minimum and remain close lipped if conversation turns to running other team members down.

Don’t let the boss down:

Your boss has welcomed you into his fold so it is important that he receives a return on his investment. Keep him informed on your success by perhaps arranging to discuss your performance to date. He may well point out areas where he would like you to focus your attention, which in turn, gives you guidance as to how you can impress him and make this position your own.

There is nothing worse than being a newbie as all eyes are on you. Follow the above steps, stay calm, focussed, energised and those first five days could see you managing the company five years from now!

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