Starting a new job is an exciting yet nerve-wracking process. There’s an enormous amount of information to absorb, standard policies and procedures to digest, and office dynamics to navigate. As a new employee, you’re eager to impress and also energized about the new opportunity. But, who orders coffee when the kitchen is out? How do you look up a client’s contact information in the system? What do you do when a client asks a question you simply don’t know the answer to yet? Transitioning from the new guy to the stellar employee is a daunting task. As a recruiter, I see this daily in the candidates I place at offices across industries. As a newer recruiter myself, I’ve also grappled with this same dilemma. Here are some strategies that will help you navigate the first few months gracefully.
1. Figure it out. It’s your third week on the job, you’re trucking along, and then you hit a speed bump. You have no idea what to do next. Instead of leaning over to the person next to you, try your best to figure it out. This is where critical thinking skills and good judgment come into play. Is it a game changing decision? Don’t make the call. Does it involve some extra steps and potentially insignificant mistakes? Try your best to work it out. Then clarify what you did at a later time.
2. Consolidate your questions. Don’t lose sight of the fact that other people in your office have a full desk. Although it’s tempting to buzz your teammate or your supervisor with each question, you’re interrupting their work flow. The best way to handle your inquiries is to compile a list of several questions and then email the person who can answer these questions asking for a good time to meet. This approach allows the seasoned employee to designate a specific time for you and also uses that time efficiently by addressing several issues at once.
3. Admit you made a mistake. It’s not an easy situation when you’ve done something incorrectly, especially if it has cost the company money or resulted in a major inconvenience. Instead of being insecure about your error, ‘fess up and ask how to do it correctly next time. If you can fix it yourself, do so. You may encounter some awkward conversations with clients or add more work to your plate, but it’s far more respectable than a white lie no one believes anyway. You’re not expected to be an expert at your new job, but you are expected to be learning.
4. Seek out mentoring opportunities. Did someone mention a particularly strenuous task in the staff meeting? Find an opportunity to discuss the issue with them and learn more about the problem and how they handled it. Is someone going to grab coffee for the office? Ask if you can tag along to assist and use that opportunity to pick their brain a bit. Complacency is your worst enemy. Regardless of how much experience you have in similar roles, you need to be proactive.
5. Relax. Your new company has invested in you because they’re confident in the value you bring to the table. If you’re feeling incompetent and like a burden, don’t stress – of course you are! You’re largely inefficient and bumbling at this point. Be patient with those who are training you. And just to make it complicated: be patient, but don’t be a doormat. You were chosen from a pool of applicants to fill this role successfully – not to be a punching bag. Be confident!
The hardest part of this entire process is over. You got the job! The next several months will include a lot of successes as well as a lot of blundering mishaps. The best thing to do is accept that you will make mistakes and make every effort to learn your new role inside and out. Your office will appreciate your willingness to immerse yourself in the job and appreciate your attitude along the way.
Finally, don’t forget what it’s like to be the new guy. Soon enough, you’ll surrender the title to a new bright-eyed and nervous employee who is trying desperately to find extra pens in the stock room. Take this opportunity to be a resource for this person. You’ll continue to impress your boss and elicit some good karma along the way.
What are your tips for starting a new job off right? Comment below.
Hannah Barfield is Godshall’s newest Healthcare Recruiter. In her role, Hannah works to fulfill the open positions with Godshall’s healthcare clients. Hannah has extensive experience in the healthcare industry. She began her career as a therapist in a community mental health center. Hannah has been published in The Journal of Career Counseling, The Family Journal, and Counseling Theory: Guided and Reflexive Practice. Hannah is a graduate of the University of Georgia and graduated with a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Clemson University. She is currently a member of the Junior League of Greenville.