Making The Most Of Your First Month On The Job

Business people having working lunch in restaurant

By Shannon Lee,

The first month at a new job is all about settling in and making a good impression. There are certain things new hires can do to start off on the right foot, and behaviors they should probably avoid if they want to stick around long-term. Here is the ultimate guide of do's and don'ts for the newly hired.

Great ways to make the first month count

The interview obviously went well, the papers are signed and it's time to get started. Solidify that great first impression with these must-dos for the first month on the job.

Introductions. The boss might make introductions to co-workers and other supervisors, but taking the initiative to say hello on your own will make an even better impression.

Go above and beyond. Now is the time to make good on promises made during the interview process and prove that the company made the right hire. Get the work done and then volunteer for more -- within reason, of course.

Say yes to lunch invites. Lunch out of the office is a leisurely time to get to know someone better. When invited to a lunch with colleagues, say yes if time permits. When the invite comes from a supervisor, say yes, no matter what.

Find a mentor. Guidance through the choppy waters of that first month and beyond is necessary to stay afloat. Be on the lookout for someone who knows the ropes, has some influence in the company and is willing to take on a mentee.

Ask questions. It takes a while for new hires to learn the ropes, and everyone in the office knows that. So take advantage of it. Try to figure things out first, but if roadblocks happen, don't hesitate to ask others for help.

Stay organized. A ton of information will be covered the first month, so the value of good organizational skills cannot be overstated. Keep a pen and paper handy, jot down notes at every opportunity and review them daily.

Learn the company culture. Pay attention to the company culture and try to fit in. For example, if colleagues prefer to use email or instant messaging rather than step around the cubicle to say something, follow their lead.

Go with confidence. Take a few moments each morning to put on a game face. That means a confident smile and stride, a self-assured attitude and the certainty that today will be great. Confidence can go a long way toward solidifying a great first impression.Things to avoid during the first month

Just as there are many ways to make a great first month impression, there are just as many poor choices that can ruin it. Here are some behaviors to avoid those first few weeks on the job.

Showing up late or leaving early. Never show up late and never leave early. Those are privileges earned over time, and it's impossible to earn them within the first month. Work a full day, every single day.

Expecting help from the boss. New employees work for managers, not the other way around. Managers are there for the big questions, and they don't want to be bothered with the little ones. Turn to colleagues to learn how to work the coffee maker or find the supply closet.

Over commitment. Being dedicated to the job is great, but taking on every request will result in a mountain of work and inevitable burnout. Be honest about time constraints and the learning curve, and know that it's OK to say "no" from time to time.

Panic and frustration. Becoming overwhelmed can often lead to an unprofessional meltdown. Head off frustration at the pass by planning out the day and never taking on too much. Avoid panic by asking for help before it's actually needed. Keeping cool under pressure is a valuable asset.

Social media. Now is not the time to update a status or check Twitter. Even if others in the office are doing it, don't follow suit. Social media can be a serious time suck, and getting caught can look very unprofessional. Stick to work, and nothing but work, all day long.

Gossip. It might be tempting to hear about that scandal over in accounting or talk of the newly hired secretary, but avoid being sucked into the inevitable office gossip. Never say anything negative about anyone, as it might come back to haunt at the worst time.

Long personal calls. Draw a clear line between the professional and the personal. Avoid checking texts, answering calls or otherwise handling personal issues on company time. More established employees might be able to blur the lines a bit, but that's not a luxury for new hires.

Going it alone. Being driven to impress can often lead to taking on far too much and then working alone to figure it all out. Don't be afraid to ask for help -- it's always best to be seen as a team player.

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