Starting A New Job
So you’ve got a new job. You’re excited, you’re ready to start but you want to kick things off right. You want to be friends with everybody, get the promotion in record time and hopefully get the corner office in a few years or use this new job as a stepping stone to a better one (with glowing references to boot). That’s what everybody wants, right?
Right. But what if you’ve had some bad experiences in the past? You only have to look at websites like Refinery29 or Huffington Post every now & then to see yet another article on how to deal with difficult co-workers or how to ‘manage up’ when your manager leaves a lot to be desired. Office & job dissatisfaction appear to be at an all-time high at a time when getting and keeping a job is of the utmost importance (what with the whole GFC/economy thing). Well take it from me, I’ve been in offices where I haven’t been the most popular chick. A couple of times now. I like to blame it on the fact that I’m a pretty ambitious girl with lofty dreams; I put in the hard yards, I aim to be always professional &, unfortunately in Australia where we have our famous national laidback attitude, this can rub people up the wrong way (if I was working in, say New York, I probably wouldn’t have this problem but I’d have a host of different ones!).
So, after learning a few things about office politics (albeit sometimes the hard way) here are my tips for going into a new job & getting work wives, promotions & hopefully job satisfaction!
1. First impressions count.
This is so true. They say that in a matter of seconds, people make up their minds about you. In a split second they can tell if you’re trustworthy, professional, rich & a myriad other things. Sure it’s unfair. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover but, unfortunately this is how it works. Here’s how to make it work for you. Find out the dress code for the office in advance, either by looking at what people are wearing when you go in for an interview, asking the HR rep or even asking people you know who work/have worked there. Don’t go to extremes. Make sure that in your first couple of days your clothes, hair & makeup are representing who you are as a person but are still on the more neutral side. No super strict suits (unless, of course, your job calls for it), no short hemlines or plunging tops, no fluoro colours. In fact, when it comes to colours, it pays to go & get your colours done to see which ones look best on you. Those shades will make you look less tired & more vibrant – exactly what you need on your first day.
Picture this scenario. You’re working away at your cubicle & you see Stacy from HR giving a tour of the office to the new girl. The new girl isn’t smiling, she’s just studying the office intently. You immediately think, ‘Wow she looks stuck up/angry/sad/insert negative emotion here’. Now the new girl in the office probably isn’t stuck up or angry. She’s probably just nervous on her first day but the people in the office she hasn’t even met yet have already formed an unconscious opinion about her. A smile doesn’t cost you anything but it buys you so much – do it way more often!
3. Remember people’s names.
This is a big one. A huge one in fact. If you’ve ever read ‘How To Win Friends & Influence People’ you’ll know it’s important. Why? Because the nicest thing anyone can ever say to someone (second only to “Blake Lively’s hair has got nothing on yours!”) is their name. Think about it this way, how often has someone got your name wrong or forgotten it or not even bothered asking? How did it make you feel? Probably like you didn’t even matter to them. Now think about that barista at your local cafe who serves hundreds of people everyday but remembers your name – bet that always makes you feel a bit special. If you aren’t good with remembering names, write them down! Put a little description or prompt next to the name to remind you, like “Angela – long dark hair, Anthony – loves The Avengers”. It’s as easy as that!
4. Find your advocates.
Notice how I wrote that instead of ‘Make friends’. First of all, & this is always a bitter pill to swallow, you’re in your current job to work, not to make friends. Of course having friends in the workplace makes things more enjoyable but first up find the people you connect with immediately & work those connections. Don’t avoid everyone else, but consider asking those first few acquaintances to grab a coffee or lunch early on at your new job. These people will be the ones to give you a glowing character reference & will attest to your strong work ethic when you’re gunning for that promotion.
5. Bake a cake.
Okay so for those who don’t bake, this might be a tricky one. But this is always a good idea. In your first week, bake a cake & bring it in for everybody in your team. It’s a little bit old fashioned & sure, it’s a little bit lame, but hands up who doesn’t like a free slice of homemade cake? Everyone loves working with a nice, generous person – show the office you’re that person as soon as you can! Word to the wise, if you’re going to do the cake, knock up a quick batch of vegan cookies, you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with anyone in the office who doesn’t eat nuts, dairy, gluten etc.
6. Go in quietly.
This is an odd little bit of advice & one that I wish I’d taken a few times now! It was given to me way back when I was about to start boarding school (which I only went to for two years, thank God, before coming back to the big smoke). I’m a chatty, extroverted, quick witted person but I know that sometimes this can come off as intimidating or annoying. By going into a new environment quietly, you’re not being the silent, shy, wallflower. You’re also not completely destroying your personality. You’re just putting a lid on it so to speak for the first few weeks. Let them get to know the real you. Plus being too chatty, joking around & laughing too much can kind of come of as less than professional.
7. Be professional but not too professional.
This one is a tricky one. In a super corporate environment be as professional as you can possibly be. For everyone else, this tip is for you. If you’re working in a casual environment or a creative environment you want to be professional but you don’t want to put people off if they’re not quite as punctual, determined or proper as you are. Plus, if you think you’re the most professional person in the room & you’re working with monkeys, then, no matter how true it is, put it out of your mind. People can pick up on it. This is definite flaw of mine. I come into every job thinking my co-workers will be as professional as I am & sometimes it’s not quite the case. It’s a tricky thing but you can be noticed for your professionalism whilst not letting that quality make other people feel like they’re doing a crappy job. Look to Tip No. 5. Bake a cake. Be the nicest person in the room & no one will care if you’re also the most ambitious.
Basically the main gist of this post is to be nice. If you come across as a nice person you’ll always be okay. Some people have to consciously remember to keep smiling & recall people’s names while for others it comes more naturally. Either way, achieving promotions & praise in your chosen field will be easier if your professionalism/work ethic & ambition match your kindness. You’ll catch more flies with honey and you’ll get that corner office in no time.