Writing yourself a strong CV is the first challenge. Securing an interview is the second. Making a good impression and getting invited back is the third. Being the best of the bunch and receiving an offer is the fourth and final, right? Wrong! The hardest part may be over, but now comes the time to prove that the company made the right decision in hiring you and showing them that you can and will become a valuable member of the team.
Getting off on the right foot is very important. Failure to do so could mean that you find yourself back on the job market much sooner than you thought, and you don’t want that! No single new employee is bigger or more important than an efficient and happy team, regardless of what figures and stats you have behind you (impressive though they may be). In your first few months, it is important that you make an effort to get on with them and fit in and adapt to their way of working, not the other way around. If they have a good dynamic that works well for them and yields good results, you can’t expect them to change for you!
Knowledge is always power, so it could be useful for you to try and glean some information about your colleagues during the process of accepting the offer. Try and learn things such as how long they have been with the company, what different positions they have held, where else they have worked in the past and what the internal hierarchy within your team is. However, when trying to find this out, try to find gentle and subtle ways of slipping it into conversation, rather than hurling a barrage of questions at them all at once! Another good thing to try and ascertain is what the personal relationships between the team are like. This information can be trickier to obtain: it takes more subtlety and the reading of body language and behaviour. Be tactful: this is good information to uncover, but you don’t want to put your foot in it!
As you begin to get to know everyone, make sure you are always clear and forthcoming with your own objectives and what you are hoping to get from your new role. Whilst it is not necessary for you to like all of your colleagues, it is important to be able to put any personal feelings to one side so as to create strong and effective working relationships.
A good advantage of working in a team is the opportunities you will have to socialise outside of working hours. This is a great way to build stronger relationships and to boost team morale and spirit. However, this can have its risks: the longer the party, the bigger the danger of an indiscretion. Try to gain a reputation as somebody who is always willing to make the effort to socialise, but whom also knows the right time to make an exit. Be extra cautious if your boss is joining you: don’t become too familiar or say anything that you might later regret. If you are talking work, keep things polite and positive (even if others might not be!). Always behave respectfully, regardless of whether the people you are with are in more junior or senior positions to you.
Obviously, nobody goes into a new job wanting to be unsuccessful or to fail, but it is all too easy to make life unnecessarily difficult for yourself if you don’t watch out for common errors. You need to know your limits!
It is important for you to go in being realistic. Don’t set your expectations of the role or of yourself too highly. Obviously, it is great to be ambitious and optimistic, but don’t set yourself up for a fall, especially in the first few months. Similarly, if you think that the expectations and targets your boss has set for you, address this as quickly as you can to avoid it becoming a bigger problem than it has to.
Even if you have been taken on in order to help resolve a specific issue the company/ department has been having, don’t assume that you will have all of the answers straight away. Take some time to familiarise yourself with the operation fully before you make a complete judgement. Be mindful not to outwardly criticise processes or tools too harshly; you might be speaking to the person who was responsible for designing and/ or implementing it. There is a good chance that there will be some things about it that are worth preserving, so don’t jump straight in with changes that you want to make before you have fully analysed it because you are eager to make your mark as quickly as possible. Slow and steady wins the race, and you do not want to risk coming across as arrogant.
Something else to be cautious of is overdoing it. When you start a new job, it can be tempting to volunteer yourself for everything in order to make a good impression. Whilst this is a beneficial thing to do, be careful and stay realistic. Take things on that you know you can do well and leave yourself an amount of wiggle room with regards to timeframes in case the task takes you longer than you might have expected. Whatever you do, do it well and to the best of your ability. Where possible, make sure that those senior to you, particularly your boss, notice the effort that you are putting in.
Being the newbie is always going to be a bit daunting, especially as the impression you make in the early stages can stick with you for a long time. You can take comfort in knowing that you must be a good professional and cultural fit, or the company wouldn’t have offered you a job to begin with. This is just the time in which you must prove that they made the right decision and quantify your worth. Before too long, they will be wondering how they ever survived without you!