Q. I’m starting a new position next week and I’m really nervous. This job is a real step forward in my career. What are some things I should or should not do to make a good first impression?
A. Congratulations on the new position, and the step forward in your career. The first day in a new job is both exciting and nerve wracking. Before your first day, review the interview process. They hired you for many reasons; review what they wanted, and be confident. Preparation leads to confidence. So plan for your first day and more to make a strong first impression.
-Dress professionally and blend in. As a new face, you are going to get noticed walking around the office. Instead of letting your clothes be the first impression your co-workers and managers receive, blend in and impress them with your personality. For the first few weeks, dress more conservatively. Be sure what the unwritten dress code is before you step out and wear clothes that reflect your personal style.
-Write it down. Carry a notepad everywhere. Taking notes shows that you are engaged and interested in completing a task with a high attention to detail. It will also be useful to refer back to notes during future projects.
-Introduce yourself. There are some people you will be introduced to, but there are others you will not. Make an effort to meet as many people as possible within the first week, even if that means approaching them and introducing yourself.
-Try to remember names. No one expects you to remember everyone’s name on the first day, but you should make an effort to learn names as quickly as possible – and if you forget, simply apologize and ask them to repeat their name. It might be helpful to scroll through the company website where names and pictures might be listed as a guide.
-Ask questions. Managers do not expect you to know exactly what to do immediately, but they do expect you to clarify and build an independence.
-Work hard. There is no better way to develop a personal brand. This is how you want to be known throughout the company. Establish a reputation as a hard worker. Show up a little early and stay a little late.
-Develop strong relationships, support colleagues, and be positive. Participate in group lunches, community volunteer events, and activities after the workday ends – like softball leagues, book clubs, and dinner or drinks. Make an effort to get to know your colleagues.
-Don’t let office gossip influence your opinions. People may talk. Perhaps they are trying to warn you about a situation, or they may be sharing their own negativity. Don’t get caught up in any of these situations.
Making a good first impression involves a commitment to learning, hard work, collegiality and being part of the positive culture successful employees and organizations want. Soon enough, you won’t be the “new guy,” but a valued member of the team.
-Elaine Varelas, Managing Partner, Keystone Partners