Bazinga! You’ve signed on the dotted line. It is literally written into a contract that an exchange of money for time will occur, and the first week at your new job is looming large. Here are 7 things to do that will make your manager want to sleep with said contract under his or her pillow.
1. Find out who everyone is…
… and try to remember it all: names, responsibilities, the whole caboodle. Retaining every packet of information thrown at you on the first day of introductions is about as easy as knitting an eel. You’re only human, and for some reason beyond comprehension, the compulsory and permanent wearing of name badges hasn’t yet been enshrined in UK employment law. Having to ask again a few days later is forgivable. Twice, however, and they’ll start to think you just don’t care enough – or that the space between your ears is filled with belly button detritus – so if you reach the two-strike stage, it is high time for some judicious LinkedIn stalking. Go ahead and showcase your near-maniacal keenness by sending your coworkers a connection request while you’re at it.
2. Be a Nosy Parker
This may well sound like a carte blanche to make a right old nuisance of yourself. And yes, asking pertinent questions is a) necessary and b) looks pretty darned badass. In reality, though, it also means beavering away in a quiet corner and systematically combing through everything at your disposal to get to grips with the company’s inner workings.
Wade through everything you have access to in files and folders on the company’s internal network. If this includes a library of online training resources, it is a godsend, and you must read them until your eyeballs shrivel like sultanas. If they have any printed material (past contracts, case studies, promotional brochures and other advertising collateral) to hand, inhale it all. Your goal is to become an expert AY-SAP, because preparation = confidence. Sounds crummy? Well, tough you-know-what.
ONLINE BUSINESS: if it’s a digital company, scour every last dusty corner of their website and/or phone app to get acquainted with the ins and outs of the business model (yes, this includes the eye-wateringly small T&Cs). Sign up as a user and get a feel for the user experience. Put on your Deerstalker of Shrewdness and make notes of anything that strikes you as odd. Hit up Google and read what’s been said about them in the press. You’ve probably done this already, seeing as you’re bloody brilliant and proved during the interview stage that you know what’s what, but this is the time to dredge out a fine-tooth comb.
OFFLINE BUSINESS: if, on the other hand, the company has offline activities and processes that require speaking to a real live human in order to gain insight – don’t be shy about pestering various colleagues until you’re up to speed on how the pieces of the puzzle fit together, in addition to doing the aforementioned googling. This could involve venturing into different departments or making a few phone calls.
3. Do the hot beverage thing
This might sound basic. It might sound subservient. It might sound straight-up ridiculous. However, no matter whether you’re an intern or a permanent employee, it is simply a gesture of goodwill to undertake the behemoth task of remembering not only THOSE WRETCHED NAMES but also how many sugars each person on your team takes in their cuppa. (One-and-a-half? Seriously, some people out there are just plain crackers, and this is also knowledge worthy of acquiring as soon as possible.)
4. Make notes
Lots of them. Do it old school with a pen and paper if you prefer, or use a tool such as the frighteningly brilliant Evernote to keep everything in one place. The advantage of using a digital helping hand is that firstly, you can access and add to your brain-dumps whenever you lay your mitts on a computer or smartphone; secondly, you don’t have to buy a notebook; and thirdly, no-one ever has to get an eyeful of your “whaddya mean you don’t like my heart-shaped i-dots?” handwriting.
The likelihood is that you won’t ever need to look back over most of your observations, because getting au fait in a new job is an ongoing learning process where you reinforce and build on your bank of existing knowledge with every passing day. But having a log of your activities from the word go is as good from a personal development point of view as it is from a confidence perspective.
5. Arrive a little bit early and stay a little bit late
Let’s be clear here: we’re not advocating that loopy trend for having a competition as to who can leave the office last. But arriving five minutes before your scheduled start time, and not slamming your laptop shut with a shriek of ecstasy as the second-hand ticks round to 6pm, makes a good impression, pure and simple. It may well be (if you to work for a startup, for example) that there are no set working hours – in which case, set yourself some sensible ones. At least for the first few weeks.
5. Get organised
Physical to-do lists are fine and dandy, but there may well be a digital time-management/productivity/note-taking tool in use across the whole company. If there is: get fluent with it toute de suite, mes amis. And the onus is on you to take the initiative and figure out something that suits your style of working if there’s no such prescribed system in place. Free online apps such as Asana and Podio each have their merits, and there’s scope for you to win Mega Bonus Points for suggesting that everyone at the company tries it out for a while to see if it increases their capacity to sell more stuff/help more people/crush more souls [delete as appropriate].
These days, more and more companies are turning to cloud computing over traditional LAN-based systems for ease of access and collaboration. If you’re new to that whole shebang, search online for tips on how to ditch your novice status faster than anyone can say “Google Drive”. Here’s a good one, for starters.
6. Ask for feedback
When your first week draws to an end, any hiring manager worth their salt will schedule a catch-up to see how you feel things are going so far and vice versa. If this doesn’t happen, take it upon yourself to make it happen. Of course, feedback should be a regular thing, but the end of the first week is particularly important and it’s good to set the wheels in motion for a continuing two-way dialogue. Bull, horns, taken.
7. And finally… ALWAYS SALUTE THE CAPTAIN
Everyone loves an “aye aye sir!”.
(Please don’t actually do this unless you are a cabin boy on the Good Ship Lollipop. A jovial “good morning” will do the trick nicely most of the time.)
Gotta get a job before you can nail the first week? You’re in luck, we’ve jobs-a-plenty: