Until, of course, you start your first week at a new job and you have to figure out how best to make a place for yourself. Should you try to stand out or go with the flow? Should you make friends or stay strictly business?
If your first day at a new job is on the horizon, be sure to check out these six tips to make a fantastic first impression.
1. Channel Your Inner Extrovert
Becoming part of the office isn't just about doing a job. It's also important to join in the culture and camaraderie of your new workplace in the first few weeks in order to give a positive impression and form relationships with the people there.
You'll become a part of the office faster if you find your inner (or not so inner) extrovert and put yourself out there. Strike up conversations. Join coworkers for lunch in the break room or drinks after work. Sign up for the office softball team. Understanding the relationships, strengths, and habits of the people in your office will help you better understand the job and will help them trust and depend on you faster.
2. Avoid the Office Gossip
Of course, as you get to know your coworkers, you may find yourself on the receiving end of some juicy office gossip. Though it can be tempting -- and entertaining -- to join in, do your best to stay out of talk about other employees marital, legal, or other personal troubles.
As the new employee, your office relationships are in a state of flux, and you don't want to end up alienating anyone or gaining a reputation for being untrustworthy. It's fine to ask for information about the office culture if it affects your job, but keep the talk focused on work and some harmless personal sharing. If it might come back to haunt you, avoid it.
3. Come Up With Plans, Not Just Ideas
Being new on the job means you are likely to spot weaknesses or areas that could use improving. A lot of supervisors will appreciate this -- they want the fresh ideas that new employees bring.
But if you only ever provide abstract ideas -- or worse, criticism -- you'll soon find that your insights are less than welcome. Take it a step further and, with your supervisor's approval, come up with a concrete plan for improvement. Depending on the type of office you work in, this could be a formal presentation or an informal email. Either way, you'll demonstrate problem-solving and critical thinking -- two traits that always make a good impression.
4. Show Respect for Experience
Older employees can often feel threatened by new hires, especially if you were brought on to shake things up or are constantly suggesting new ways to improve existing systems. This can lead to resentment and friction that may make it hard to settle in to your new job.
You can avoid this by going out of your way to demonstrate respect for the employees that have been there longer than you. Seek out senior workers and ask for their advice on how to succeed in the company. If you see something that you think can be improved, first ask a coworker if they have insights into why it is done a certain way. If someone offers you advice, be attentive and appreciative.
By showing this kind of respect, you'll form supportive, mentoring relationships that help advance your career and put you in a stronger position to effect change where necessary.
5. Learn the Informal Rules
When you are first hired, you'll most likely be given a list of formal office procedures and policies. Following those is a given. But if you want to make a particularly good impression, spend some time figuring out the informal office rules as well.
Does your manager like when employees dress more formally, even though the official dress code is business casual? Do your coworkers take turns bringing in snacks? Will listening to music or talking on the phone annoy people, or does everyone do it? Is five minutes late still considered on-time, or does everyone arrive ten minutes early?
Informal rules are harder to pick up on, and in some instances your new coworkers may not consciously be aware that they exist. Learning them as quickly as possible will make everyone feel like you are part of the team much more quickly.
6. Show Up Ready Every Day
Especially in the first few weeks of a new job, you don't want to just show up -- you want to show up as ready as possible. Learn as much as you can about the company, its history, and its customers. Dress professionally and appropriately. Know what happened in meetings yesterday and last week. Have the materials you need to tackle your to-do list and more. Stay up-to-date on industry trends and news.
Being a new hire puts you on the spot to prove your worth. Show up ready to go above and beyond, and you'll make a valuable place for yourself in no time.
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Katharine Paljug, the author if this article for GoGirl Finance, is a freelance lifestyle and health writer who specializes in online copy. Katharine writes about growing small business at her website, Katharine Writes.