Whether you are just beginning a career or you are a seasoned pro, navigating your way in a new workplace is a challenge. One thing we all face with greater frequency is starting a new job. Here are some useful tips for making the right impression from people I’ve worked with on my Working Women series of books and from my own experience.

A friend who’s now an executive in a major company told me that whenever he started a new job he worked like a fiend for the first 3 months – first one there, last to leave, everything done well and in record time. He felt that after that, he could relax a little. I’ve never clocked myself on the 3-month schedule like that, but I think there’s some truth to starting out at the overachiever level. It’s easier to loosen up later than to tighten up and overcome first impressions.

Another important thing to remember is that most jobs are 40% performance and 60% people. By that I mean that you can be the best at what you do, but if you aren’t able to deal with the people you work with effectively, you probably won’t be successful.

With that in mind, here are some additional useful tips for starting a new job:

  • Dress up a little bit from the general office level – Keep your desk clean. Even if you are naturally a “pile” person, control your habit of making piles regardless of what anyone else’s desk looks like.
  • Keep the antenna up for clues such as workstyles, where the “real” power lies (as opposed to the “titled” power). Finding a mentoring colleague can really help – I know I’ve navigated a lot of confusing waters with the help of others who’d been there longer.
  • Keep your new boss up to date on everything that you are doing (not down to nitty gritty, but at least to the point where he/she can ask more questions).
  • If you are supervising people, it’s a good idea to maintain a professional distance. You can loosen up later as appropriate.
  • Be careful of what you say and how you say it. If someone is “gossiping” about problems in the workplace or problems with another employer/employee, don’t get involved. Keep your opinions to yourself.
  • If you are having a personal problem, keep that to yourself too. There are sometimes people who like to prey on the weak. If something has happened on the job, they look for someone to blame. It’s always the new person.

At the same time, it’s important to be nice to everyone. You never know whose help you’re going to need, whether it’s now or in the future.

See also…

Labor and Employment Law