After the grueling application and interview process, you finally got the job. Awesome! You get to conquer new challenges, meet new people, learn a different industry perhaps – all great things. However, the hard part also begins: making a good first impression with your new coworkers and bosses. Whenever you’re starting a new job, there are certain behaviors, topics of conversation, and more that you just shouldn’t touch. Here’s a list of 10 things you should never do when starting a new job.
Don’t come unprepared
Make sure you know everything you need to know for your first day, like when you should come in. Is it 9am, or 8am? In your communications with HR, did they tell you where to go and who to ask for on your first day? Did you bring a notepad and pen, or even a laptop to take notes? How about this: did you map out your route for your first day? Did you account for traffic or construction or anything else that could delay your arrival? If it’s a big building downtown, where do you park?
There are many details to potentially overlook, so make sure you have all these questions answered before you go in. And on that note…
Don’t be late
When you start a new job, your behavior in those first couple weeks sets the tone for how we think you’ll do long-term. If showing up late to work right at the start is acceptable for you, you won’t be at that company for long.
I used to work at a company that didn’t consider you “late” unless you were 15 minutes late. As soon as newbies would find this out, they’d start stretching when they came in. First it was 8:55 (to make that good first impression), then 9:05, then 9:15… You get the point.
As a manager, that was seriously off-putting. Even though it was the company’s official policy, I expected my juniors to be there on time and not to take advantage of the system. I was understanding of the occasional traffic jam, but I was not ok with 9:15 becoming the norm just because other people got away with it.
Don’t underdress – or overdress
While it was good to suit up for the interviews, now that you’ve nailed the job, dress according to the dress code and culture. Business casual? Go ahead and dress in nice slacks and a dress shirt, or for the ladies, a pencil skirt and blouse. I actually wrote a post a while ago that speaks about dress codes. It was written with interviews in mind, but has good info about how you should dress in “don’t overdress” situations, and clothing that’s simply not acceptable even after you’ve been hired.
Don’t get too personal too quickly
It can be tempting to get overly friendly with coworkers at first. However, you don’t know the office culture yet, you don’t know who’s a gossip, and you don’t know who you can trust with personal information. It’s totally ok to chit chat, but I would highly advise against touching on controversial topics or giving away too many personal details – until you know who you can trust. And on that note…
It’s great when coworkers want to get to know you. However, if one of them starts giving you dirt on others, ruuuuuuuuun! Trust us, you don’t want to get associated with gossip and drama right off the bat (and ideally, never).
Be professional. If the office gossip starts dishing out info, do not engage, do not react. And most importantly, do not share this information. It will do exactly zero good – especially if the information wasn’t true.
Don’t stay stuck in old patterns
Every company has their own way of doing something. Even if you got a similar job with similar tasks, you’re most likely going to need to learn new ways of doing them – and that should be ok with you. Unless the new method is horrendously inefficient and your way would save drastic amounts of time, don’t mention it. Adjust to the change, and enjoy the challenge of learning a new way to do something.
Don’t expect anyone to hold your hand
Managers understand that new hires require a certain amount of care. Good managers will help you transition into your new role, answer any questions, explain your tasks thoroughly, and provide any training materials you need.
They won’t, however, hold your hand through the process. Managers hire people because they trust in their ability to do the job. They prepare the candidate well, give them everything they need, and then see if they sink or swim.
I’m not at all advocating for the “throw you in the fire” method. I don’t think that putting an employee right into the thick of it is ever a good idea. That’s a great way to burn people out and set them up for failure. There has to be a certain learning period, and an open environment where the employee isn’t scared to ask questions. It can help dramatically to assign someone on the team to bring the new employee up to speed… and to know what to avoid touching!
Once that period has come and gone, though? Take the training wheels off and see if they crash. :)
Don’t be on your phone all the time
Yes, technology is awesome. Yes, texting is ubiquitous. No, you shouldn’t read or reply to texts when you’re starting a new job.
There are some companies that are fine with their employees answering a quick text here and there, but it definitely shouldn’t be habit, and it definitely shouldn’t be on your first day. You, as a new hire, do not yet have the trust level that established employees do. If you want the same privileges and trust that they have, prove yourself first. Work hard, be reliable, be trustworthy, and it will come.
Don’t try to change everything
Your first few weeks as a new employee should be spent taking everything in, learning your tasks and responsibilities, adjusting to a new culture, etc. We’re sure you’ll notice things that could be done more efficiently, so start making a list. Once you’re a bit more established and you understand everything that goes into these processes, you may find that your initial suggestions wouldn’t end up providing a benefit. Or, you may find that your suggestions are awesome, and now you’ll have actual data on how much time you could save by changing certain processes.
So, don’t come in with guns blazing. Make sure you understand processes completely, and provide your ideas once you’ve fully vetted them – along with data to back them up.
If you don’t know how to do something, don’t lie and pretend everything’s good. Be honest and tell your manager so that they can help you. Managers are people. We’ve been there and done that. We know there’s a learning curve, and we want to help. It’s not like we want to see you fail – we hired you, we like you, we want you to succeed. So if you don’t understand something or don’t know how to do it, or even if you need a refresher, please ask! Don’t try to fudge it or work it out yourself. It’s a failure on us when an employee doesn’t work out early on in the process, so reach out and ask. Don’t lie. No one wins that way.