You’ve heard it a million times: First impressions are important. It’s human nature to make assumptions about unfamiliar people. In other words, people tend to sleep a little easier when they’ve decided exactly what ‘type’ of person you are. But the first few weeks of a new job are about more than simply impressing your boss and colleagues. How you spend your days now will set the stage for the rest of your time at this company. Remember that each workplace has a unique culture that will take some getting used to. You may have mastered the game at your old position, but different rules apply at a new job.
If you’re going to survive the office life, it all starts now. We’ve come up with eight things that will help you make the most of this time:
Company resources: learn where they are and how to use them
In the long run, you’ll be able to do your job better if you know how to tap the resources at work. There are probably all kinds of office gadgets and systems in place to help you out. Learn where the fax machine is, make a couple of notes on how to use the phone, peruse the information on the company intranet, and track down any software you think you need. Remember that your list should also include people! If your company is large enough, there are probably a half dozen individuals who can make your new job easier. These can include people such as under-worked interns, receptionists, and the unofficial computer fix-it guy.
Get something to work towards, even if it’s small
A good supervisor will give you something to sink your teeth into immediately, even if it’s trivial. If he doesn’t, find out whether there’s a goal you can start working towards in addition to any other training. As long as you don’t come across as too much of a suck-up, he’ll respect your initiative.
Find a mentor
It’s good to have a person that can teach you all the things you won’t find in the employee handbook. She can also help by answering the questions that you wouldn’t want to waste your boss’s time with. Just don’t bug her too much…
Start learning names
But you knew one this already, didn’t you? Don’t assume that someone will hold your hand and introduce you to everyone in the office. Take the initiative to reach out to people. And don’t think people won’t notice when you forget their name later and find all sorts of creative ways to address them without it. Simply asking for a reminder now can save you from a lot of awkwardness down the road.
Two words: happy hour
One of the best ways to build a solid working relationship with people is to spend time with them outside of work. Take advantage of formal and informal opportunities to get to know your coworkers better. You might even get a free drink on the company tab once in a while.
Dress the part
On your first day of work you’ll probably notice that people vary widely in their interpretation of ‘business casual’. If you look too sloppy, people won’t take you seriously. On the other hand, if you show up to work overdressed, you might come across as someone who just doesn’t “get it.” For a good compromise, aim to match some of the better dressed people at your level in the company.
Address your nagging feelings of inadequacy
You made it through that grueling interview process, so at least one person believes you should be here. It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed at first. As long as your resume isn’t totally embellished, remind yourself that you have the skills to adapt to whatever comes your way.
Enjoy this time of fewer responsibilities
After all of this sober advice, just remember that nobody expects you to overhaul the company in your first two weeks (certainly don’t try). It will be understood that you’ll have a lot to learn before you make any real contribution. That being said, don’t let this attitude extend too long or you might find yourself as the “new guy” again much sooner than you thought.