First Day Jitters? How to Be a Star at Your New Job



I'm not going to sit here and tell you that starting a new job is stressful because you know by now. I'm not going to wax poetic about having a positive attitude, shaking hands or being friendly. Those are just good manners, which you no doubt have. What I am going to do is give you solid advice on how to be a total rock star at your new gig. Whether you're going to be sitting in your first office with a door (congrats!) or you're on your third round of internships, these new job tips will help you move up and onward in your career. They'll also help you sleep better during those first few months, which researchers say is an extension of your interview. Big brother will be watching, but you have nothing to fear, just follow these tips. 

Scope Out the Hood

Olivia Fox Cabane suggests, in her book The Charisma Mythloitering outside of your new office building to observe how people dress. She explains that psychologically, people are drawn to those they perceive to be like them. It's not just about dressing for success, but fitting in with your office's culture from the get-go. These days, so many offices are casual in an effort to appeal to millennials who are startup and work-at-home hungry. So don't be over- or underdressed. After you've seen enough people going in and out, walk around the neighborhood. Where can you grab a quick lunch, where's Starbucks? Is there a doctor's office or a pharmacy nearby? Little things like this will add to your stress on those first lunch breaks if you'd don't know ahead of time. So figure it out in case you've got an hour to kill solo. Caveat: If a new coworker offers to show you the ropes, let him or her do so to build a bond and show gratitude. 

Prep Your Routine the Night Before

It took me far too long to learn this lesson, but you will give yourself a massive boost if you sit down for 10 minutes before bed and map out your morning. Not just when to wake up, but what you're going to wear, what you'll eat for breakfast, how long it will likely take. When you stop hitting snooze, you'll be on automatic, again reducing unnecessary stress over something small.

Schedule a Meeting 

Your manager(s) may not have hired you. They may only know they're getting someone "new." Even if they were part of the interview process, chances are someone higher up or in HR spent more time with you to discover your fitness for the job. So break the ice right away. Ask to schedule a meeting with your manager to discuss expectations and get to know one another. They'll appreciate it. Trust.

Find Out the Kitchen Etiquette: 

The kitchenette in any office is a potential hot bed for newbie faux pas. Each office can have its own culture surrounding labeling food in the fridge, mysterious thieves who steal milk, and who should refill the coffee filters. One way to break the ice with a new coworker: Hey, what's the deal with the kitchen? Any rules I should know about? 

Create an Accomplishments File

This is maybe not a file to keep on your work computer, hold it on a disk drive you carry with you and update on your lunch break. Having a record of your accomplishments at work allows you to keep your resume updated, have solid facts and figures to present to your manager during performance review time and can boost your ego when you're having a bad day. 

Follow Through—Immediately

Avoid the biggest blunder most politicians make. Whatever you promised in your interview, start working on it right away. If you said you think you can improve social media engagement, present a plan to do so. If you presented yourself as an expert in a certain program or method, get in there and be an expert with it! Don't wait for your boss to assign you something that lets you shine. Ask to participate. Say something like, "Hey, remember when we spoke about X in my interview? Do you still need help with that?"

Question Everything (Almost)

Again, one of my mistakes from younger days and former jobs. I was afraid to ask questions for fear of seeming "dumb." If there's anything you're unsure of, anything at all, pipe up and ask about it. Don't assume you should know. You might be stumped on a process that's specific to your office and requires an answer from a coworker in order to move forward. Think of all the time you'd waste sitting at your desk trying to figure it out yourself when it's literally not possible.  

Network, Network and then Network Some More

This is the most obvious tip on here, but it's so important it bears mentioning. You will never do yourself a disservice by giving everyone you meet a chance to be an office friend. By office friend, I mean to say, someone with which you can have a professional quid pro quo (that's a beneficial mutual exchange) relationship. Some advisors tell you to find a mentor or sidle up to the top brass. That can be too obvious and give a bad impression. So just meet and greet as many people as possible, be a social butterfly in those first few months, at least. Say yes to happy hour, say yes to lunch invitations, say yes to everything except participating in office gossip. Never do that until you know the ropes and who you can trust. A better credo might be: just don't do it ever. 

Be Genuine

Dale Carnegie wrote a little book in 1935 called How to Win Friends and Influence PeopleAnd because it deals with human nature, it's still a gem of a self-help book. In it, he stresses the importance of being genuine in your dealings with others. Don't flatter, people can always tell. Instead, find something you genuinely admire about a person, mention it, and they'll be all over it. They'll associate you with positive vibes. Also use this missive to refrain from insincere behavior at work. If you're doing something special just to boost your own ego, you may think you're being sly, but you're not. People can tell. Adopt a team player mentality and be real nice, literally. You'll go far.