14 June 2018
First of all, congrats on the new gig! Boom. The first week at a new job is equal parts exciting and overwhelming: there’s tons to learn and lots of people to meet, and a new office dynamic to figure out. But there are a few nifty ways to make it a little bit breezier.
Let’s jump in! Here’s how to handle those first five days like a boss – even if you’re not quite there yet 😉
Remember the effort you put into your job interview outfit? You (obv) nailed it, so keep dressing the part. At least for the first few weeks, it’s better to overdress than rock up looking so casual, it’s dishevelled. That being said, think about the company culture. If you’re working for a fashion biz or a hip start-up, steer clear of that crisp suit. Stuck? You can also just ask your supervisor about the dress code.
You’re going to be spending many, many hours a week with these people, so you may as well start learning their names. If your manager is too busy (or forgot to take you on a tour), just go around and shake hands. Start with the people closest to where you’re sitting, or the group you’ll be directly working with. Everyone was a newbie once, so don’t be shy!
Your manager may give you a map of the office, but if not, make your own. You can pop this in a notebook, and update it every time you meet someone new, or when that person who’s in back-to-back meetings finally sits down. Bonus: this is a fab way to remember names.
That way, you can quickly pay if there’s an office coffee run, lunch order, or group birthday card making the rounds. It’s much easier to hand over cold, hard cash than ask your new co-worker for their bank details.
What’s the deal with the coffee machine? Can you use any plates, mugs or cutlery? Are there set shelves in the fridge for different departments? Who loads the dishwasher? The kitchen comes with its own set of unwritten rules, so take a peek about what other people are doing, or ask!
Watch everything – not in a creepy way, just be a good observer. This is one of the cleverest (and most important) things you can do in your first week. Tune into the power dynamics: often, they’ll teach you more about your workplace than any manual will. Figure out who the power players are, how your colleagues communicate, and who works best and/or clashes with each other. At the same time, see if you can spot areas for improvement, or tasks you can help out with.
When someone asks if you want to grab lunch/go to happy hour/join the office trampolining team, say yes! This not only shows that you’re excited to be part of the group, but it speeds up the bonding process. Of course, if you’re a bit wary about the person who latched onto you the second you walked in the door and started yapping on about Karen’s boyfriend’s cheating and your boss’ bitchy side, don’t feel like you have to hang.
To settle in quicker, get to know your surroundings. Go for a stroll and figure out where the nearest pharmacy is, which cafes have cheap and cheerful lunch specials, and which restaurants would be perfect for a client meeting. And suss out where the cool people get their coffee fix in the morning.
Your notebook (we love this glittery one!) is your best friend – don’t leave your desk without it. Even if you’re just rolling your chair over to your manager’s desk for a quick chat, there’s a good chance you’ll need to jot something down to remember later. Plus, a notebook just makes you look more professional without trying.
And real-life folders, if you need them. It’s much easier to file emails and documents as you go than comb through a thousand emails in a few weeks’ or months’ time. By that time, you’ll be well into the swing of things and will probably have to resign yourself to having a messy inbox forever and ever.
In some offices, the biggest tug-of-war is the air conditioning. It’s near impossible to concentrate when it’s too hot or too cold, and you never know what the air con sitch will be like, so pack a jacket or knit, or wear layers you can peel off when it’s steamy (since sticking your head in the freezer might warrant some weird looks).
Even if your next vacay is six months away, bring it up sooner rather than later. Your manager will appreciate you letting them know about any time off you’ll need in the future.
Is there anything you’re confused or curious about? Fire away! As you’re navigating the new processes, people and projects, your team will expect you to have questions, so don’t be afraid to ask. Write down the answers too, even if they sound so simple. During the first week, your brain is on overload, so this will save you from asking twice (or three times, oops!).
If your boss or desk buddy offers to help you, take them up on it – even if you don’t think you need it. They’re going out of their way, and never know: you might gain valuable insights into ‘how things are done here,’ learn a handy tip or trick, or at the very least, make a friend. Maybe you’ll be able to return the favour later on.
Oh, and if someone lets you in on an insider secret, like where to get the best salad for $10, or what to avoid at the office cafeteria, be sure to follow up with them. People love knowing their advice was appreciated.
At most professional jobs, you’ll have to do performance reviews pretty regularly (e.g. the three, six or 12 month mark). Once you’ve settled in, it can be hard to remember all the little details. In your first week, create a Google doc and start recording your wins, the targets you hit, and the challenges you faced so you’ll be ready and raring to go when you’re called up.
Let people know about your new role by refreshing your LinkedIn, and cement your new working relationships by adding people on social media. Use your discretion, though. LinkedIn was made for business, so go nuts, and if you’re in media or a creative industry, Twitter might be appropriate too. Instagram and Facebook are viewed as more personal platforms, so maybe hold off for a little while.
It’s better to have these laid out before you dive in. In the first week, ask questions like: How will I be measured on my success? What extra tasks do you expect me to do? Who do I report to on the day-to-day? How flexible are you with leaving early with appointments?
Because work is SO much more fun when you have someone to Gchat.
Words by Katia Iervasi
28 September 2022
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