Starting your new job

Starting a new job is a transitional period: you have to acclimate to a new environment, new people and new rules. You may think you need to know everything there is to know on day one. However, most employers realise that there is a learning curve for new employees — in particular, entry-level new graduates.

Here are some tips to help you manage the transition:

Build your professional image

Dress and behave in a manner that will allow you to establish a reputable image at work. Find a mentor or role model who is well-respected, and take cues from their dress attire and behaviour. Maintain a can-do attitude, master your tasks and honour your commitments. Strive to meet or exceed expectations in all that you do. You will begin to build a reputation for your work ethic, and the quality and timeliness of your work.

Learn the workplace culture

Take the opportunity to observe your colleagues and supervisor to learn the unwritten rules of the workplace. Does everyone arrive a half-hour early and stay at least a half-hour late? What is the protocol for requesting time off? Does the team go to lunch together?

Master communication skills

As we increasingly rely on technology to communicate, the level of formality has seemingly decreased. Professional communications in the workplace are usually more formal than when you were in university. Use the appropriate level of formality and proof-read everything.

Manage your time and stay organised

Meeting deadlines and commitments is an important part of earning the respect of your colleagues and supervisors. Managing the amount of time you spend responding to and issuing email, along with all of your responsibilities, involves prioritisation. Creating a to-do list and using an agenda can be helpful in setting up reminders for important deadlines, tasks and meetings.

Create a journal of your accomplishments, projects, learning objectives and goals. This will come in handy at annual review time when you will need to recall what you achieved. Organising your physical workspace is important. You may want to dedicate a specific amount of time each week to maintaining a filing system. 

Establish relationships

Camaraderie among colleagues often helps with team-building and overall job satisfaction. Be careful when it comes to office politics. Avoid those who complain or talk about others. Communicate regularly with your supervisor to understand expectations, priorities and get feedback on your progress. Volunteer to work on priority projects and show both colleagues and supervisors that you’re a team player.

Face challenges with professional finesse

One of the true tests of any first job is learning how to manage conflict, time pressures and stress. Maintaining and conveying a positive attitude in every situation is important. Being proactive is also critical. When faced with an obstacle or challenge, try to explore potential solutions on your own, or with the help of colleagues or mentor. If you ultimately need to speak to your supervisor, you will be able to show that you made every attempt to resolve the issue on your own. 

© 2017 TU Delft

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