How to Rock Your First Week at a New Job

Starting a new job can get your nerves twanging. Your business casual wardrobe feels either too casual or too business. You’ve lost your old lunch crew and you’re dreading eating alone at your desk. You have a chance to start fresh at a new job, but you worry that your bad habits will prove impossible to break.

Even if you get past the emotional turmoil, logically, you know that just because you got the job doesn’t mean you get to keep it. You need to prove yourself worthy early on.

What can you do to be successful during your first week at a new job?

1. Get prepared

Before your first day, ask the person who hired you when to arrive, where to go, and who to report to. Look up your new colleagues on LinkedIn and learn their names, faces, and how they describe their job. Follow your new employer on social media (if you’re not on the same social channels, now’s the time to sign up) and read everything that’s shared. While you get prepared for your first week on the job, write down personal goals, questions you have, and any ideas that spring to mind.

2. Bring lunch, but be ready to abandon it

Your schedule is likely to be unpredictable during your first week, which could leave you little time to pop out to pick up lunch. Bring lunch (and snacks) that you can eat quickly if need be. So you can say yes to any invitations to lunch from your boss or colleagues, bring food that can linger in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

3. Be on time

Your first week on the job is the wrong time to not be on time. If this tip seems obvious to you, hurrah! You’re a naturally punctual person and you can move on to tip #4.

If you tend to run late, avoid the panic that comes from being rushed and the poor impression that results from being late. Wake up early, make sure you know how to get to your new office, and allow extra time for surprise delays and transportation snafus. Walk in the office front door with a few minutes to spare.

4. Meet with…

a. your manager, twice

You’ll benefit from having two meetings with your manager in your first week. One meeting on your first day to review your day-to-day job duties and discuss what success at your job looks like in a week, a month, and by your first performance review. Also, get the rundown on who you should meet and what you should learn from them. If possible, schedule another meeting at the end of your first week to talk about what you learned, the challenges you had, and the opportunities you see in the weeks and months ahead.

b. the people you manage, twice

Whether you’re the head of a team or if you just have an intern to look after, it’s critical to meet with the people you manage early on. First, schedule one-on-one time to get to know each of them better. During these initial meetings, your primary job is to ask questions, listen to their answers, and acknowledge the value of their experience. Then, if you manage a team, call another meeting with the whole team to review what the group is currently working on and your shared near-term goals.

5. Make friends with IT

The people responsible for maintaining the things that go “beep” are some of your most important relationships at the office. Introduce yourself and let them know your level of skill with the hardware and software you’ll be using. Find out what their system is for responding to IT issues. To get on IT’s good side, you don’t need to resort to bribery, though stopping by with indulgent, homemade snacks is rarely a mistake.

6. Introduce yourself to everyone and remember their names

During your first week, aim to meet everyone including your co-workers, vendors, contractors, and interns. Make an effort to say hi to both the people that work in your office and those you’ll work with virtually. It can be tough to remember the names of everyone you meet. If your office doesn’t have an employee list or use an internal social media tool, start a cheat sheet to refer to so you don’t draw a blank. Write down pronouciations of names as well as notes to improve your recall.

7. Follow the rules

Unless you were hired to restructure the agency or revamp operations, your first week is not the time to question how things are done. While your fresh perspective will likely reveal many potential areas for improvement, preaching about how much better things could be your first week will only incite the ire of your colleagues. Write down your ideas and save them for a later time when you better understand the office politics and personalities involved.

8. Curtail your complaining

Many things will be less than ideal during your first week. You may be tempted to air your grievances with your colleagues or commiserate with their kvetching. Sharing complaints during your first week (and really, your first month) isn’t the kind of bonding that makes for good co-worker relationships. It merely encourages negativity and risks typecasting you as an unpleasant curmudgeon.

9. Be confident but not a braggart

You got hired because you were the right person for the job. You know that and, hopefully, your colleagues agree. To be successful at your job, you need to show that what you said in the interview was true and then exceed expectations. Rather than boasting, set out to prove your worth. From day one, keep track of your accomplishments and any praise you receive. If you can get your hands on metrics, collect benchmark data that your job performance can have an impact on. Draw from this information later when asked to demonstrate your successes—or ask for a raise.

10. Update your social profiles

Don’t stop at updating your LinkedIn profile. Announce your new job in whatever spaces you are comfortable talking about work. Share the news on other social media channels and send an email to people who you count in your professional network so they have your new contact information.

Lauren Girardin is a marketing and communications consultant, writer, and trainer. Find her on Twitter at @girardinl.

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