5 things to do when starting a new job
More than 58 percent of millennial employees say "yes" rather than question authority, according to LinkedIn's 2015 New Norms @Work study of more than 15,000 workers. And that's not a bad thing, especially if you're new to a job.
During the first few months in your new role and workplace, you are technically on probation. To hold on to your job, you have to make the right first impression and get the approval of your peers and management. It's up to you to get things started on the right foot.
When you're the new kid on the block, your first priority is to learn what's going on and earn the trust and respect of your colleagues. You don't want to be viewed as a brown-noser, but you don't want your manager and colleagues to think you're a slacker, either.
Here are a few things millennials and new employees of any age should do when starting a new job:
1. Ask a lot of questions. How can you get up to speed in your role and learn about the culture and processes respected by your new employer? If you're lucky, you'll receive some sort of onboarding or orientation. However, this training doesn't always cover the nitty-gritty daily details. Ask your new manager for a meeting the first week you start, so you can begin getting answers to these types of questions:
- What are the most important parts of the job I should master during my first few weeks here?
- Who are the key people I should meet, and what should I learn from them?
- What processes and procedures are most critical to this group, and what is the best way for me to learn them?
- What is the best way for me to communicate with you and keep you updated on my progress?
You probably have many other questions, too. Make sure the questions you ask show you're committed to doing your job well and helping your new employer.
Avoid asking too many questions that focus only on you, such as those about vacation, time off and pay increases, because they can send the wrong message. Those kinds of questions may best be answered by asking human resources or checking the employee handbook. Do your research, and you may even be able to get some clarification from other employees.
2. Arrive early, and leave late. During your first few weeks on the job, everyone (not just your boss) is observing how you behave. Learn what the normal work day patterns look like by watching what time your co-workers arrive and leave.
You don't have to be the first person in the office, but you should arrive earlier than most. And don't just hang out in your cube. Use this time to have a brief chat with a colleague in the break room or offer help to someone who looks stressed.
Before you leave the office, check in with your manager or team to see if there is anything you can do to help before leaving.
3. Connect outside the office. If your natural tendency is to eat lunch alone, beware. Your new co-workers may think you don't like them. Join them during a lunch outside the office or for happy hours and other after-hours events at least a couple times during your first month.
Your goal is to learn about people outside the office. You want your colleagues to learn about you, too, so be the best version of yourself. Your new co-workers are still evaluating you, and you'll want to be on your best behavior. Don't overindulge or pontificate about the latest political or religious issues.
4. Take on the dirty work. If there's a project or task no one wants to tackle, volunteer to do it and give it all you've got. You don't want this special project to interfere with your normal work, so be sure you have the bandwidth to take it on. Early in your job and career, there are very few jobs that are below you. Remember: Everyone has to start somewhere.
5. Fit in. Each department and organization has unwritten codes of conduct. The earlier you learn about these unspoken rules, the better. You may find that you disagree with how things operate in your new organization, but bite your tongue. If you start critiquing your new employer, you'll probably come across as a complainer or a know-it-all.
If you do find that your new environment is intolerable, start looking for a new job during your free time outside of work. Do your best work so you can leave on your terms. The LinkedIn study found that 1 in 5 employees wants to hide the fact he or she has been fired. It's embarrassing and difficult to explain, so don't let that happen to you.
Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She co-authored "Social Networking for Business Success," and has developed and delivered programs to help job seekers understand how to look for work better.
Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report
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