How to Start Off On the Right Foot at a New Company

Woman with her feet up on a desk with a box of office supplies on it

Congratulations, you’re hired! While you deserve a moment to take in everything you’ve gone through to get to your new position -- the job search, the resume prep, the interviewing, etc. -- don’t rest on your laurels for too long. First impressions matter, and during your first few weeks at your new job, you’re laying the groundwork and establishing those key working relationships and processes that will set you up for success in the long run.

Aside from your actual workload, here are the most important things you should do in those crucial first days and weeks with your new employer:

Arrive early, leave late

Starting a new job is a bit of a proving ground at the beginning. To make the best first impression during this important time, you want to convey your excitement, dedication, and commitment to your new role, and one of the best ways to do that is by showing up (prepared and ready to go) a little early, and refraining from ducking out early.

Ask questions

The onboarding period at a new job can be intense and overwhelming, so don’t be shy about asking questions and finding out everything you need so that you can excel in your role. Oftentimes new employees fear asking questions because they don’t want to come across as unknowledgeable or unprepared. But, this is a mistake. Asking questions -- no matter how basic you may feel they are -- indicates your willingness to learn so that you can start executing ASAP.

Listen and observe

A large part of your initial weeks at a new organization or company will be spent simply listening to your new colleagues, taking in the company culture, observing workplace norms and conventions, and in general just getting a sense of what daily life is like at your new job. From the small things (like how long people take for lunch or common workplace attire) to the larger issues that have to do with your actual workload, goals, team members or projects, learning to adapt to your new environment without rocking the boat is key to a good transition.

Be open and friendly

When you start a new job, you’re also starting new relationships (and possible friendships), so be mindful of how you come across to your new colleagues and make an effort to create a good first impression. Present yourself as someone who is open, friendly, and ready to cultivate productive, positive workplace relationships. If you appear closed off or unwilling to engage with any of your new coworkers, word will quickly spread that you’re “difficult” or possibly even “rude” and you may find yourself with a less than stellar professional reputation.

Avoid the negative

Office gossip, cliques, politics, backbiting, rumors, badmouthing, hierarchies … don’t allow yourself to be drawn into any kind of negativity. As the “new kid on the block,” so to speak, you may be tempted to align yourself with a certain group (or, what’s worse, you may even feel pressure to do this) right after you join the organization, but if this involves any kind of negative behavior or communication, avoid this like the plague. Dipping your toe into office politics when you’re only a few days or weeks on the job is a recipe for disaster and can actually lead to some pretty serious consequences if you end up caught in the middle of some work drama that you have no business being a part of.

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