Can we please talk about how utterly awful starting a new job can be?
No matter how wonderful your new coworkers are, how wonderful and understanding your new boss is, or how appealing your improved salary looks, the fact remains that, within mere moments of walking in the door on Day One, you are quite likely to make a complete fool of yourself.
This kind of fate-enforced newcomer’s hazing is (tragically) inevitable, so I’ll spare you on how to avoid it. However, there are a few easy things you can do to retain a semblance of good repute and dignity during those first few weeks.
In brief? Know your “soft skills.” They take no talent, knowledge, IQ points, or astounding levels of empathy. Anyone can have them.
Despite this, soft skills are shockingly underrepresented in even the most “professional” workplace settings. In mastering them, you automatically give yourself much more grace during the initial workplace period of less-than-excellent performance.
1. Dress Well
Dress to your station, and you’ll look that much more suited to it, no matter how clueless you may feel. Ladies show confidence by dressing with simple class, rather than flashing about like desperate peacocks. By choosing simple fashion options and refraining from wearing various trends such as chains, graphic t-shirts, or snapbacks, men also show confidence and reliability on the job.
Asking about dress code well before the first day on the job not only makes a good first impression, but also shows respect to your new employer.
2. Be Punctual
On your first day, plan to arrive at least ten minutes before you have to be there. Once you’re accustomed to your commute, you can have that leisurely morning routine with a five-step skincare lineup. For your first week or so, however, it’s a good idea to risk spending some time waiting in your car rather than annoying your new employer.
3. Be Positive
The first day at any new job is nerve-wracking – not the sort of day on which one is inclined towards compassion or consideration towards others. However, overcoming this hurdle and bringing positivity to those around you will earn you similar treatment from your new coworkers.
Even if you make a thousand newcomer’s mistakes, showing a positive and humble attitude, along with displaying confident willingness to try new things, will make your coworkers far less likely to mind a few slip-ups in the beginning. What’s important is that you cheerfully try.
4. Stick It Out
There’s a reason it’s not common to take a vacation after only a few weeks at a new job: it looks flakey. While the old-timers can take weeks off at a time without a care (and leave the office early on days when they do come in), it’s important that suspicious newcomers prove themselves with a month or two of consistent work before letting their hair down.
Stay till the very end of your shift. Say yes when you’re asked to work extra days during a busy time. Say yes to filling in for others. In short: put in the time now so you have the standing to relax later.
5. Maintain Good Relations
After you’ve been at your new job for a week or so, it’s likely your fellow employees will try to draw you into the usual song and dance of workplace gossip.
While this is entertaining, it’s best to just change the subject. Besides providing an excellent excuse to hate your guts right off the bat, gossip can also hurt your chances at workplace success in the long run. In the professional world you don’t get to simply avoid anyone for social or personal reasons. No matter how embarrassing a slip-up or how heated an argument you may have, you still have to come in and work with those same people the next day. Keep it professional, and you won’t have any reason to run away.
Godspeed on your new job and the inevitable failures and embarrassments that will come within the first few days. Check all the easy boxes above, and I promise it won’t be so bad.
Waseem Farooq via Pxhere (CC0 1.0)