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Leave a great first impression

Posted By David Brown, CEO, Hays US on Tuesday, Apr 17, 2018

Leave a great first impression | Hays blogWhether you’re a graduate, manager, or CEO, your first day on the job has enormous bearing on how other staff perceive you. You want to make the right impression from the get go (in some cases you have as little as a tenth of a second to do it), and a new job success strategy is just the way to do it.

The waiting game

There’s usually a limbo period between a job offer and your first day. This can be as little as a few days to several weeks. You may be raring to go, and that’ll help you once you start your new job, but don’t lose your cool.

The transition can be made easier if you reach out to your future employer before the job actively starts – they may even invite you to the office or for a team drink to meet your future colleagues. Don’t overburden them with questions, but feel out what you can do to prepare for your new role. It’s also a good idea to keep in touch with your recruitment consultant, just in case there are any date changes or other alterations.

Five steps to success

Even though an employer will already have some idea of what you can offer after your interview, your first few days on the job will solidify and clarify their expectations. Your manager will be doing their best as you start to create a welcoming and supportive environment, and you have to do your part as well:

1. Arrive early and suitably dressed

If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. To give yourself sufficient time to ease into your new job, and to start every shift regularly, arrive at least fifteen minutes early. You need time to prep before the day gets going generally, and on your first day you need to be ready for whatever additional training you haven’t already been through.

In addition, it’s of important to attire yourself appropriately. By now you should have discussed the dress code of your new job with your manager. If you’re still not sure and your new job’s start date is approaching, examine whatever company materials you’ve been given, or use the company website.

2. Remember names

Greet everyone by name and when talking, to pick up colleagues’ names as quickly as possible. This will also help you build rapport with your new teammates. It can be overwhelming being introduced around an entire office and being expected to remember everyone at once, but a good office doesn’t expect you to know everyone immediately. You’ll have a couple days’ grace, but try to connect with your immediate colleagues asap.

One tactic to help is to repeat someone’s name back to them while being introduced. This can also help you make sure you have unfamiliar pronunciations down – something you don’t want to get wrong. We’re built to recall occupations and roles more easily than names, so one workaround is to map out a seating plan and plot names to respective positions in the office – during which it’s especially worth making note of the employees with whom you’ll have regular contact.

3. Ask questions

Take advantage of being new to the office to ask as much as possible before expectations as to your knowledge settle in. Some of your questions may have been covered in the interview, but now’s an excellent time to make sure you’re up to speed on everything you’ll need to know to do your job effectively. But stick to business-related matters, especially if asking your boss – your colleagues will be able to answer the bulk of your around-the-office questions.

4. Listen

In your first few days at work you need to be listening and learning more than talking. Give input when asked for it, but carry a notebook and pen around with you at all times, ready for whatever nuggets of information your colleagues can give you. Quality notes make following through on tasks easier, especially those you’ll have less assistance on.

There’s going to be a lot of important, and sometimes specific, information to learn on your first day, and throughout your on-boarding period. You’ll get some leeway on picking up new skills and getting up to speed on existing projects, but make sure you’re all ears at all times so you can stay ahead.

5. Big-picture thinking

Even though it’s only your first day you should already be thinking about how everything you’re learning now builds into the bigger picture. That includes your interactions with colleagues and your relationships with them. Everyone in a business has a role to play. Know yours to maintain healthy relationships with your coworkers and your boss, and be able to say when a task you’re being asked to take on is not in your purview or better suited to someone else. Always be willing to help others out, but don’t fall victim to office politics and keep your job description handy so you know your essential responsibilities and who you’ll be coordinating those with.

The Follow-Up

Call your recruiter

Call your recruiter to let them know how your first day went. Talk through who you met, the projects you were assigned, and what your day was like. It’s vital to share any questions you have at this early stage, when your consultant is best placed to ferret out information on your behalf.

Give it a chance

If at the end of your first day you think you’ve made a mistake or you won’t gel with your new colleagues, don’t panic. It can take time to settle into a new organization and many people have initial reservations. Remember that everyone has new job jitters, and change is often uncomfortable. When onboarding, stay positive and try to create good work-life balance so you don’t lose yourself in the job.

A final thought

You only get one shot at a first impression, and that impression is often going to be what sticks with your colleagues the length of your employment. Start with the five tips above, but don’t stress out. You’ve got a support network that believes in you and wants you to succeed. Reach out to them if you’re having issues. And if you don’t already have a dream position lined up, let Hays be a part of that support network and help you find your ideal job today.

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