21 Ideas for New Hires:

Learn These Tips Before the First Day on the Job!

By Peter Cotton, founder and president, Best Sales Talent, LLC

Congratulations.  All the hard work in your job search is done.  No more interviews.  You are starting a new job!

The real hard work, though, is about to begin.  Your elation may slightly diminish when you realize all that you must learn and become familiar with – in fact it can be downright overwhelming.

Whenever a person starts a new job, the people they work with gain a lasting impression of him/her based on what the person does (or doesn’t do), says or asks (or doesn’t say or ask) during the first 90 to 100 days (also known as the honeymoon period).  Some companies call the first 90 days to six months a probationary period.  Regardless of what this time period is called, new employees are under a figurative “microscope.”

I’ve listed 21 ideas that will help new hires.  I’m fairly confident that most of these ideas will apply to anyone regardless of industry.

How To Position Yourself as a Smart and Savvy New Hire

1. Always pay attention to everything you hear, and write it all down, especially people’s names. New co-workers and your manager will tell you a lot of new information, and you will look like you want to remember and learn.

2. Always arrive early.  Being late is never acceptable.  Being precisely on time is not ideal.  Set your watch five minutes fast.  Allow extra time to commute and get there early.

3. Always take less than the hour (or half hour) for lunch if you can. Bring your lunch, which will save you time and money.  If you’re invited out to lunch, pay your own share, including tax and tip. Get back to work as quickly as possible.  It shows your desire and commitment early on.

4. Always leave AFTER the time you can leave.  Clock watchers who are getting ready to leave at 4:30 or 4:45 PM, before the work day is over, are not looked upon as team players.

5. Observe what people wear to work – especially people in your department. Dress similarly.

6. NEVER use the office computer to do personal work – that includes bill paying, Facebook, Twitter, Instant Messenger, LinkedIn or other social media, or checking personal email. Don’t do it on your phone either.  Your co-workers will notice, and you can bet they will tell their other co-workers.  It won’t be long until your boss knows, and you’ll earn an immediate and likely long-lasting reputation that you’re not serious about working there.

7. If your LinkedIn profile is checked that you are OPEN TO CAREER OPPORTUNITIES – turn that off.  Immediately!  Before you start.  Some employers get very nervous if they check the profile of a new hire and see that you are “still looking.”

8. NO outbound texting or personal calls during the work day (other than lunch time).  Notify your friends and family not to call you, text you, or email you during the business day – if they stop, you won’t be tempted to check to see if they left you a voicemail, text or email.  Tell your family to call you only if it is an emergency.  Anything else can wait for a call during lunch or after work.

9. Turn off the ringer on your personal cell phone.  Put it on vibrate.  One of the things most annoying to employers and co-workers is to hear the new guy’s cell phone constantly going off on every text, email, and call.

10. Get familiar with your surroundings, so that you’ll be comfortable at your new office. Locate the copy/fax machine, office supplies, and the bathroom.

How to Get a Grip on Everything You Need to Know to Do Your Job Successfully

11. When in doubt, ASK.  Don’t guess or assume.  Better to verify before than be sorry after.

12. Set up a meeting with your new boss. You will want to hear your boss tell you again about your job. Sometimes things change since your first interview. You’ll want to know:

a. responsibilities

b. performance expectations

c. standards (indicators to help you know what your goals are)

d. who your primary contact points are and why

e. events, like status report due dates and department meetings

Your new boss may not tell you all these things, as that may be delegated to other people as part of your training, but you need to know this information soon and often until you have it memorized.

13. Set up a meeting with all the key players. This should include the admin or secretary that supports your boss. This person/people will know everything and everyone. Creating a close relationship with this person/people will be helpful. You will want to understand what function each person performs and how your role interacts with them. You need to make sure that you find out any details about how your work needs to be done to set yourself and them up for success.

14. Drill down on your job. Familiarize yourself with the computer you will be given. Learn all the software if you have not used it previously. There will be different forms of reports and paperwork that you will need as part of your job. Accumulate everything that anyone thinks is part of your job and study what you have. Create a “sample” copy of all typical reports and spreadsheets. Familiarize yourself with each element and track the origins of things, so you will know where or how they are produced. Pull out previously completed work and study what has been produced before you arrived. As you do this, it will help you develop questions that you can ask of others.

How To Become Part of the Company Culture

15. Observe. As with any group of people, there are politics and culture to consider. Before you step on a metaphorical land mine, you want to come in as an observer to the organization. You need to understand the informal leadership, the influencers and problems. All new people are automatically given a state of grace for their ignorance during that period. Make sure to ask plenty of questions and be watchful. It will be your knowledge of the culture, your personality, and how you do your job that will set the bar for how well you integrate. Integration into the culture may be a strong indicator of your future success and career growth.

16. Be open to change and criticism. Don’t be hard on yourself.  Everything will become familiar soon.

17. NEVER say, “At (your former employing company name), we did it this way,” if it implies that the way your new company does things is wrong.  If you know a better way to accomplish something, state it as your own idea, as in, “may I suggest a possible alternative method to achieve the goal/objective/outcome?”

18. Ask for feedback. Ask for it early and often. As you are starting to produce work, seek out your boss or other key players for their feedback on your work. Just like integration into the group, your work also has a grace period. You want to use your grace period as a window to learn by doing and adjusting until you are producing at or above the expectations. You won’t know unless you ask.

19. Obtain and mentally DEVOUR every piece of product literature the company has.  Memorize what is on their website.

Final Words of Advice

20. Have fun. You don’t want to establish yourself as the class clown, but you want to enjoy your new job. Lighten up on yourself, laugh at your mistakes, and tackle the hard stuff with a great attitude.

21. And finally, strive for your best performance in everything you do.  Remember, success comes to those who work for it, not those who wait for it to happen to them.

I hope the above list is helpful.  Do you have any more ideas to add?  If so, I’d love to hear them.  Shoot me an email or give me a call at (401) 737-3200.