Demonstrating your worth in a new job

Now you’ve got the job, it’s okay to relax and coast, right?  Definitely not!

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The early days of your new job will be key in setting the tone for your future work relationships with colleagues.  You need to be as “tuned-in” to the needs of the position and your supervisor as you were in the interview.

How can you demonstrate your worth during these first few days?  Here are a few simple rules to consider and follow when setting the tone in your new job:

Introductions on the first day:  You will likely be taken around by your new supervisor or HR person to meet your new team members.  Treat each introduction like a significant one, making eye contact and asking each person about their role.  Show a genuine interest in them and make an effort to remember their names.

Be proud of your work:  Ensure the work you are presenting is your best.  Be thorough and error-free.  It is always better to take a bit longer and submit beautiful work then to submit a rushed job needing edits.  This annoys supervisors and erodes trust in your work.  Take the time you need to create quality work.

Show interest, take notes:  During meetings, take your own notes and follow the direction of discussion actively.  Don’t feel pressured to talk much in the first few days, this is your time to learn and listen and make some informed opinions.  Once you’ve reached a level where you feel confident, voice your opinion which is grounded in observation and research.

Turn personal devices off:  Do not check email or cell phones during meetings.  It’s rude and makes you look distracted.  Be present, and be an active and engaged listener.

Show respect for your colleagues and chain of command:  ‘Nuf said.

Lunch and coffee breaks:  If you are invited out to lunch with co-workers during your early days, you should join them.  Building a social network helps establish a more familiar and easy rapport with colleagues whom you may not have the opportunity to chat with during work hours.  In the beginning,  talk less, listen more.  You will inevitably form early impressions about your colleagues.  These may change with time.  Let them change and do not be swayed by hearsay from other colleagues.

Stay out of gossip:  Be wary of adopting someone else’s “story” about a colleague.  It can color your dealings with them, to your detriment.  Start fresh with every person and give them the benefit of the doubt, as you would like for yourself with a new employee coming in.

Stay busy:  If you are finished with an introductory task, look for more to do.  Be active and take responsibility for finding your next task by thinking about the next step and then talking with your supervisor.  Do not sit idly waiting for the next task to be assigned.

No social networking (unless this is your job!): Save this for your own time, not company time and not on the company computer.

Go the extra step:  Anticipate what will be suggested as follow up.  Start this ahead of time to show you are proactive.

Keep your supervisor informed:  Respond promptly to emails from your supervisor and team members.  Short concise confirmations are often all that is needed to reassure your boss you are “on it” and you are sharing your progress with others.

These simple straightforward concepts seem like common sense, like they would be anyone’s natural response in a new job.   This is not necessarily the case.  Remember your early days can be pivotal in setting the tone.  Once you’ve set the bar high, you’ll want to keep it there.

Written by Tanya Behrisch, M.A.
Associate Director, CMA Co-op Specialist
SFU Beedie School of Business
behrisch@sfu.ca

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