First week of a new job? Here’s what you must do

The Great Resignation is here, and millions of U.S. workers are quitting their jobs—or planning to, anyway. A whopping 65% of working adults say they are looking for a new gig, according to an August poll conducted by PwC. Luckily for job hunters, the U.S. now has more job openings than any time in history, with the most increases in vacancies in health care and social assistance, state and local government, and wholesale trade and information.

For those starting to fill these open positions, adjusting to a new workplace will likely feel daunting—especially for those who are joining hybrid or entirely remote teams. When facing a sea of strange faces and adjusting to a new company culture, it’s best to have a game plan. Here are some tried-and-true ways you can set yourself up for success in the first week in your new role:

Practice your commute

There’s nothing worse than being the person who arrives late to their first day on the job.  To avoid any embarrassment, plan out your commute ahead of time, and even practice the trip if you have time. When you feel like you have the journey down, schedule your wake-up times for the week. Make sure to allocate extra time each day to give yourself some leeway in case anything goes awry. It never hurts to be the early one—you’ll have extra time to prepare for the day.

Make a good first impression

It’s hard to change people’s initial impression of you, so it’s important to make a good one. “Research indicates that people make quick inferences of others’ intelligence and personality even after 30-second interactions, and that such inferences are more accurate than we may think,” writes Fast Company contributor Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic in a recent article.

To make sure your colleagues see you in a positive light right off the bat, make an extra effort in the first week to be friendly. Here are a few methods to help make the best first impression:

  • Before your first day, look into the company dress code and plan out your first few outfits. Remember, all offices have a different standard of dress, and you want to feel confident. If you’re working remotely, check in with your supervisor to see if there are any special company policies. On the whole, make sure you look professional, even if you opt for comfortable clothing.
  • Practice a short elevator pitch to have on the ready for any early run-ins. Be ready to explain your background and what you hope to get out of your new position. To avoid sounding scripted, Fast Company writer Gwen Moran advises you to “look for the ‘universal truth’ that relates to what you do and matters to your target.” By working on this introduction, you’ll seem more confident in early interactions.
  • Try to relax. Everyone around you understands the first-day feeling. By channeling nerves into excitement and focusing on learning as much as possible, you will have more energy to listen to colleagues.

Ask lots of questions

Your first few days may be a blur. Make sure to pay attention in meetings and take notes on things that confuse or interest you. By writing down your takeaways from interesting interactions, you’ll be better equipped to have meaningful conversations and ask the right questions to best understand the company. When your manager or coworkers have down time throughout the day, ask them thoughtful questions from your notes.

“Know when you need help, and don’t be shy about asking for it,” writes Shireen Jaffer, CEO of job-search platform Edvo. If you speak up when you don’t understand something, you will save crucial time that can be devoted to doing a better job in your role. Asking questions not only makes you seem eager to do your job well, but most supervisors would rather you ask them how to do something than do the task incorrectly and have to redo it.

Start building relationships

The most important part of any workplace is the people. During your first week on the job, make sure to introduce yourself to as many colleagues as you can and make an effort to start building relationships.

If you’re starting work at a small company, try eating lunch with a different coworker each day as a way to get to know everyone on an individual basis.  Make sure to use everyone’s names when addressing them to build a sense of personal respect right away.

“Building relationships—especially cross-functional ones—at a bigger company won’t happen as naturally. You’ll need to go out of your way to make it happen,” writes Zapier’s Ellie Huizenga. Huizenga recommends scheduling one-on-one meetings with colleagues who you know you will work with often, asking those staff members for recommendations of other people to meet, and checking the company org-chart before meetings to be able to speak to each person with a better understanding of their role.

Whatever the size of your new workplace, try to seek out a friend early on as a reference point for questions and support. By building strong relationships, you’ll be able to do a better job.

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