Susan’s response: Great question Tory! First impressions are everything and what you do in the first week is as important as what you don’t do. Follow my list of five Do’s and Don’ts and I guarantee you’ll get off to the right start.
1. Do arrive early, stay late and show genuine enthusiasm for being in the office. Your first week of work is not the time to ask about vacation, flex-time or telecommunicating. A strong work-ethic makes a great first impression.
2. Do meet as many people as you can, and treat everyone with equal respect. The executive assistant has more power and influence in the office than you might suspect. You never know when she might become your boss.
3. Do share personal information so that people can get to know you, but avoid being fanatical about your hobbies or interests. Once you’re labeled as the “crazy cat lady” or the “cycling fanatic” it’s a label that will stick forever.
4. Don’t continue interviewing for the job. Many young professionals make the mistake of selling themselves too hard in the first week of work. Stop mentioning your credentials and your experience. It’s annoying to your co-workers. You got the job, now chill.
5. Don’t let anyone know that this job was not your first choice, or that you only plan to stay until you find something better. This can be your little secret. Declaring yourself as anything less than a fully invested employee is career suicide.
Susan’s Bottom Line: Making a great impression in your first week of work is more about highlighting your charming personality than your strong skill set. Give people a reason to like working with you, and save your genius ideas for overhauling the company for week #2.
Pat’s Response: Susan, a good start. Tough to disagree with these time-tested concepts, but I will do a bit of fine tuning by adding 5 more pieces of advice to our now Top 10 List of ways to make a great first impression in your first week at work.
6. Do take a personal interest in people. People are much more than their careers. Engage people at multiple levels of the organization to see what their interests and passions are. Tweaking Susan’s advice here, I would do more questioning about other people’s passions and interests than sharing your own. When you do, you’ll be surprised how quickly you find common ground – and from that genuine relationships can grow.
7. Do begin to identify mentors. Related to my point above, find people higher up in the organization with whom you can form genuine relationships. Everyone wants to stand in line to meet the CEO for 30 seconds. In 99% of cases, he/she won’t remember you. You’ll get farther faster building real relationships with people one or two levels above you in the organization.
8. Do write down every question you have. They are all of value. Find “low risk” opportunities to get the ones that seem silly/insignificant answered (second year employees or admin staff are often good resources for this). Group the more significant questions and ask your boss for perspective on the meatier ones a couple times a week
9. Don’t be the smart, quiet kid. Most new college graduates are at least a bit uncomfortable trying to draw attention to themselves, but in this case, standing out is of value. Make it a goal to let people know you are there. One of the best ways to do this in group settings: ask intelligent questions. In your first week, you don’t know enough to add great value, but thoughtful questions in meetings and training sessions (in moderation) can let people know that you’re engaged and confident.
10. Finally, don’t stress 24/7. Breathe. Breathe again. You can do the work. You will be successful. You survived a grueling interview process conducted by pros – if they put you in the role, you can do the job. When you make your first rookie mistake (everyone does) or have a truly embarrassing moment (almost everyone does), take a deep breath and keep pressing forward.
Pat’s Bottom Line: Be confident. Go in strong and make an immediate impact. Make sure people know you’re there – and that you matter. If you’re shaking in your boots, act confidently anyway. Fake it ‘til you make it. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
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