Some employers offer a structured onboarding schedule to get you up and running. But others give you a one-day orientation and dunk you in the deep end.
No matter what your situation, you can set yourself up for success with these fast and simple steps:
1) Decide How to Say Hello
Saying hello might seem easy enough, but your first introduction sets the tone for how co-workers and higher-ups will perceive you. As HR analyst Jennifer King puts it “You only get one chance to make a first impression. So, before you start introducing yourself to everyone, figure out what you’re going to say when you meet them.” Nail down your intro so you can relax and focus on making real connections.
2) Ask Questions …
Needing to ask questions can make anyone feel a little exposed—especially as you strive to establish yourself as a capable and independent worker. But here’s the deal: there’s never a better time than your first week to ask smart questions. After all, would you rather ask now, or wait until you’ve been at the company for six months?
3) … And Take Notes!
The catch to asking questions is that you’ve also got to remember the answers! Don’t just nod, say yes, and forget what you’ve learned ten minutes later. Jot down notes for later reference and keep them near at hand. Remember, it’s your goal to become self-sufficient as soon as possible.
4) Get a Game Plan
It’s easy to get distracted in the hubbub of new people, new skills, and new environments. The key to laser-beam focus is setting goals for your first 30, 60, and 90 days. As career writer Lisa Quast suggests, “Your 30/60/90 game plan should include the key tasks, projects, and initiatives you need to complete.” Sketch out a prioritized timeline, then sit down with your manager so you’re both on the same page.
5) Don’t Freak Out
There’s almost a 100% guarantee that the first days of a new job will feel overwhelming. “In my experience, you can only retain one-third to one-half of the information that’s thrown at you during your first day on a job,” writes HR maven Alison Green. “This is normal. Eventually it’ll all make sense.” So take a deep breath and power through.
6) Don’t Abandon Your Network
During a job hunt, you rely on your system of friends, co-workers, mentors, and business contacts. But building your network shouldn’t stop once you’ve actually landed a gig. Stay in touch by sending occasional updates about your latest projects.
7) Make Your Office a Better Place to Be
You don’t have to be an office veteran to add value. As career coach Kirk Bauman suggests, “Come to work with a great attitude, enjoy what you do, and do it to the best of your ability every single day. Ask your coworkers and managers how you can help them. Give constructive feedback and help your team with changes for the better.” Straightforward actions like these will pinpoint you as a star player.
Annie Favreau is the managing editor for Inside Jobs—a site that helps career changers and choosers discover strong career options + find the right education reach their goals. Follow her on Twitter @InsideJobs.