By: Mari-Kathryn Arnold, Ed.D.
Your first impressions throughout your career play a critical part in determining your success, especially when starting a new job. Whether the new position is inside your current organization or with a new organization, your appearance and how others see you can impact the respect given to you and your credibility. Take these steps to help ensure that your first impression is a lasting, positive impression.
Punctuality helps to demonstrate a sense of seriousness in the workplace. Take the time before your first day on the new job to plan your commute. If possible, try making a test drive prior to your first day so that you can scope out the rush hour traffic and best routes. You want to be aware of any alternate routes in case of an accident. Since anything can happen, especially during rush hour, it is important to be prepared.
Punctuality goes beyond being prompt for your scheduled shifts; you also want to be aware of your daily schedule. Be sure to plan bathroom breaks around your meetings and come prepared for each meeting with notes, equipment, and resources. This means know what content you need to have on hand and always bring a pen and piece of paper to the meeting in case you need to take notes. You also want to arrive a couple of minutes early to eliminate any disruptions. The last impression you want to leave is that you are ill-prepared or uncommitted to your position and work.
Think back to when you were in grade school and the amount of time that you placed forth to locate the perfect “back to school” outfit. Dressing for your first day of work and your first couple of weeks of work is an important component to making a lasting first impression. Although many companies do not require a business professional work attire (full suit) and will have a dress code of casual or business casual, you still want to dress appropriately for the new role. Remember, it is acceptable to overdress on the first day of the new job and adjust your wardrobe throughout the rest of the week. Simply be sure that you do not underdress for the first day. If you do not meet the dress code on the first day, you may be asked to go home, which could hurt your image and the ways that your new colleagues will view you.
A new job is an exciting experience. Be sure to smile when you start the new position. A smile will help you to appear friendlier and make you more approachable. It will also show your enthusiasm for the new experience. Even if you are nervous, which is expected when starting a new job, a smile also shows that you are confident and that you are ready and willing to be an active participant in the new role.
Starting a new job can be overwhelming. Not only are you inundated with information about the organization, healthcare benefits, and the layout of the land, but you are also meeting many new individuals. One of the best things to do before starting your first day is to determine a strategy to assist you with your active listening skills.
Be sure to not only follow up on all tasks that are given to you to complete on your first day but also work to remember everyone’s name. If you struggle with remembering names, after you are introduced, try saying using that individual’s name in a sentence. For instance, try saying “Hi John, nice to meet you”.
Active listening can also be done by asking questions. Although you never want to rock the boat by walking in and telling others how things should be done, asking questions to gain an understanding of the goals and vision of the company shows that you are invested in the organization and its success.
Although you might be overly enthused and ready to learn all of the tiny nuances at the new job, including your coworkers’ roles, being relatable and working to build the relationships with your colleagues is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It is important to remember that although a workplace should be professional, many times we spend more time with our colleagues during the week than we do with our families. Try letting your personality come out through talking about something that you believe might connect you with those around you. For instance, you may find it helpful to take a quick glance at your colleagues’ desks and pick up on some clues about their personal lives and interests. If something stands out to you about their desk, make a comment about that item or ask them about it.
Being relatable can be accomplished through many different avenues, including humor. Although humor can be a great way to build a relationship and rapport, you want to be sure that you tread lightly and try to avoid most humor on the first day. Humor can sometimes be viewed as overly harsh to some individuals, which can negatively influence how others see you and the first impression you make.
Lunch with Colleagues
To continue making a positive lasting first impression, avoid eating lunch alone, especially on your first day. Sharing lunch with others is a great approach to meeting individuals and getting to know your colleagues on a personal level. If you do not have the opportunity prior to lunch to try out the desk conversation pieces or meet some of your new colleagues, lunchtime can help to give you the opportunity to discuss your interests, motivations, and personal lives and assist you with finding relatable ground.
The most important step to making a positive first impression with your new job is to also exude confidence. Although you should remain humble and be willing to learn from those around you, demonstrating that you feel confident in implementing the skills and strategies that you are learning is key to showing your enthusiasm and passion to be working in this new role or new company. This will help you to feel comfortable with becoming a part of various projects and initiatives and should help to demonstrate that you care about not only your performance but your colleagues’ and the organization’s success as well.