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Tips for Starting a New Job

March 5, 1999
Related Topics: Your HR Career, Featured Article
Tips for Starting a New Job

Here are some good "new-job tips" for you or your new employees.

Study the Firm’s Culture
Beginning a new job is not unlike meeting future in-laws -- first impressions count. Be attuned to the subtleties of the company’s business environment, including everything from department policies and procedures to how people interact with one another.

Reduce the Learning Curve
Master the position’s responsibilities as quickly as possible by asking questions and seeking out unofficial "mentors" who can show you the ropes. Many firms now have formal mentoring programs for this purpose, but in those companies that don’t, it pays to be resourceful.

Be a Team Player
In your eagerness to hit the ground running, don’t become overly concerned with your specific portion of a given project. Look at the big picture and volunteer for assignments, even if they fall outside your immediate job description. This will allow you to learn about new areas of operations while demonstrating your sense of team play.

Become Indispensable
From the outset, take steps to make yourself an invaluable resource to your new employer by exceeding performance expectations. Arrive early to the office and, whenever necessary, stay as late as it takes to see a project through to completion.

Practice Diplomacy
Tread lightly when offering opinions for improving a particular process or procedure, especially in your first few weeks. While your ideas may be sound, as a new employee you risk alienating veteran workers for whom existing operations are "working just fine, thank you." Before you recommend a change, take time and talk with your colleagues to understand the reasons behind a specific policy. Only then should you diplomatically suggest enhancements.

Pay Attention to Management Style
Observe how managers throughout the company interact with employees. Is there a hierarchical structure or is the environment informal? Does your supervisor prefer impromptu, one-on-one discussions or scheduled meetings? Adapt your style of communication accordingly.

Follow the Leaders
Study (and emulate) the business and interpersonal styles of those with outstanding track records at the firm. These individuals will likely possess qualities that are highly valued by your new employer.

Chronicle Your Achievements
As you start building a successful work history, document these activities in a separate file. Items to keep include project reports, complimentary notes or memos from supervisors, professional awards and any other evidence of your accomplishments. These materials are useful in preparation for performance and salary reviews, or if you find yourself in the job market again.

SOURCE: ACCOUNTEMPS, Menlo Park, CA, December 11, 1998. The tips are from Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Job Hunting For Dummies.

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