After graduating university, it can be slightly daunting leaving the comfort of the lecture theatre and joining a new workplace. As well as suffering from first day nerves, it’s likely that you’ll be worrying about making a great first impression with colleagues, on both a personal and professional level.
Whilst there are certain pitfalls that can be fallen into when joining a new workplace, there are 9 easy things you can do to fit into your new environment.
1. Dress to impress
Different workplaces have completely different attitudes to ‘business dress,’ and the dress code will generally be reflective of the entire ethos of the company, giving you a bit of an indication of how you’re expected to behave at work. Google, for example, is well known for having a very chilled out work environment and dress code that they use to provide flexibility to their employees and encourage creativity.
However, some work places will have slightly stricter dress codes, meaning that you’ll want to be clued up on what’s expected ahead of your first day. After all, it’s always better to be dressed too smart than too casual.
2. Get to know the people in IT
No matter what job you’re starting or which organisation you’re working for, it’s likely that you’ll need some form of a computer login or security pass to access the company networks and facilities when you first join. And anyone that’s worked in an office for more than five minutes will tell you that your login details will rarely work first time, and so you’ll likely spend quite a bit of time during your first week putting in countless calls to IT as you desperately try to gain access to all of the systems you’ll need to do your job. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to get the IT support team on-side straight off the bat, as you never know when your newfound friendship might come in handy.
3. Be approachable
This is mostly common sense, but even if you’re feeling nervous it’s important not to show it. Everyone will already be sensitive to the fact that you’re probably feeling anxious, so you’re new colleagues will go out of their way to be extra-friendly to you on your first day.
But why wait for them to come up to you? If you have a few minutes free in your calendar during your first week, take a walk around the office and introduce yourself to everyone. They’ll be impressed by your confidence and proactivity. Ask if anyone wants a coffee, or try and get a group together for lunch. When it comes to work nights out, even if you can’t make the whole thing it’s a good idea to try pop along for at least one drink to show that you’re keen to be part of the team – it’s always a great opportunity to get the office gossip as well!
4. Get used to receiving feedback
Unless you’re already an absolute expert in your field (and maybe even then), there will be occasions when you will receive feedback, both positive and negative, on your work.
Whilst positive feedback is always welcome and easy to deal with, it can be easy to get defensive when dealing with what could be construed as negative feedback from your colleagues. But remember, any feedback you receive should be constructive and help you to develop in your role. Try not to be overly sensitive, and make sure you take everyone’s feedback on board and apply it to your day to day activities.
5. Don’t suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’
There are times when we all feel slightly out of our depth at work – whether you’re starting a job in an unfamiliar industry or have just been given a promotion, it can sometimes be easy to feel like a bit of an ‘imposter.’ But this simply isn’t the case. Remember, you were given the job for a reason, and the company wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t think you were capable. Treat it as a learning curve, and remember that everyone else in your office (even your manager) will have felt the same way at some point in their career.
However, if you’re uncomfortable with your day to day responsibilities to the point where you’re feeling stressed, then it might be worth speaking to your line manager to find out if there’s any way they can support you.
6. Understand your benefits
Aside from your salary, it’s likely that you’ll also have access to a number of different benefits as part of your employment package, and this package will differ massively between companies. Find out what’s available to you, including health care and pensions. Speak to your line manager to find out how to access the details of any employee benefits schemes, as well as the contact details of any union or employee engagement representatives within your company (if you have one).
The key thing to sort out when you first start a new job is your pension, as you may only have a small window at the start of your employment to amend your pension contributions - after this deadline, you might not be able to amend it again until the end of the tax year. Understand where your pension is being held, how much your company pays into your pension, and how much you could afford to sacrifice from your salary to bolster these savings.
7. Ask about further training
Many employers will offer additional training, so show that you’re ambitious by asking about further training straight away.
If there is training available, then it’s worth finding out who will be paying for the course before agreeing to it, as this will be different in every business. Most employers will pay for any additional training or can carry it out in-house, but there are occasions when an employer might stipulate that, should you leave the company within a certain amount of time, you will need to pay them back for the cost of the training. This would usually be for more expensive courses, or professional qualifications that would make you a desirable prospect to other employers.
If you do have to pay back the amount, then it’s worth factoring in this cost when deciding whether or not to undertake further professional training. If the job is just a stepping stone or you’re not sure it’s the right industry for you, then it might not be worth the hassle.
8. If you’re not sure, ask
At the end of the day, everyone wants you to perform well in your new role, so there’s no point suffering in silence. If you’re unsure of something, it’s always much quicker just to ask than to try and figure it out for yourself. It’ll also reduce the risk of getting it wrong. Even if it’s a simple question, no one will mind taking five minutes to help you, and it’s another easy way to get to know your colleagues. People will appreciate your proactivity.
9. Make sure you’re covered
It’s worth considering whether you need to arrange any specific commercial insurance for your new job, for example, if you’re a contractor or work in the education sector. However, unless you’ve been told otherwise, your employer will usually be responsible for arranging any required business insurance. It’s also worth considering whether you need to update your car insurance policy to include being able to drive your own car for business purposes. However, this will usually incur an additional premium, so it’s important to make sure you’re clear on what cover you might need in your new job by speaking to your line manager before making any changes to your policy.