As a companion piece to our previous blogs documenting the employee search process (HERE), I, Arielle, the actual product of said employee search, have decided to write a piece on how one can impress during their first week on the job. And so, here are a number of my own tried and true tips to dazzle and wow your bosses and coworkers alike:
1. Do Your Research
By the time you are actually hired, you have probably been through a couple of interviews with your new place of employment. Did you research the company, the people, and your role before the interviews? Dust off your notes. Did you write things down during the interview(s)? Revisit the questions you were asked and the topics that came up. All of this prep doesn’t immediately become worthless the second you get your new job—it actually becomes more valuable. You want to walk into your first day as prepared as you possibly can be, so revisit all of the information you have and see if you can fill in any blanks with more research. Do you know your company’s history? The people you will be working with? The workplace culture? Your company’s competition? The expectations of your role? The sooner you have all of this information, the sooner you can make yourself a more valuable asset to your company. If you don’t have all of this information (or if it didn’t come up in the interview):
2. Prepare Some Questions
I generally prefer learning from the mistakes of other people, so I will always ask why the position I am looking to fill is open. You can totally ask this question during the interview process, but I generally prefer to wait until I have the job before asking (just in case there is some drama associated with the leaving). This question is often coupled with “What were the strengths and weaknesses of the person who last held this position?” again, so I can learn from other people’s experiences instead of finding out the hard way. If the last person was fired because they weren’t taking enough initiative with workplace tasks, then I will be Super-Initiative Gal. If the last person was fired because they took too much initiative, then I will be Slightly-More-Cautious Gal. Workplace grievances can run deep, and the last thing you want for an employer to do is to associate you with someone that didn’t work out.
Another question I like to ask is "What is the company vision moving forward (e.g., one month from now, one year from now, five-years from now)?" Sometimes it is hard to see the bigger picture of where your position and efforts will best assist the company in reaching its larger goals. But if you have a general idea, then you can best orient yourself so that you are helping the company in working towards those goals, thereby growing with the company, and making yourself invaluable.
Again, you don’t have to ask any of these questions (especially if you already asked them during the interview process), but I like to show up with some fresh questions so I can let people know on Day One that I am actively interested in the company, in doing the best work I can, and that I am committed for the long haul. Plus, the first week is your free pass to ask all of the questions you can/want without judgement (assuming, of course, your questions are within reason/the confines of reason). After the first week, you’ll start to get some judgement. Until then:
3. Listen and Synthesize
Your first week is basically a crash course into what the rest of your foreseeable future is going to look like, so take (more) notes. Pay attention to everything said and discussed, and metabolize the information in the way you know best. For me, it is writing things down. These are the programs the company uses? That info is getting written down. This is the workflow of tasks? That info is documented. Company calendar? It’s getting merged with my own. Everything I learn is going down in a notebook for me to reference, especially later when I am too shy or embarrassed to ask how to do something again.
This is also a good time to practice your active listening skills. Keep eye contact. Repeat the information you hear. Ask pointed questions. Show your employer that you are paying attention and that you are the kind of person who doesn’t just listen, but also takes information and synthesizes it. Show your employer that you have a lot to offer the company, which you can also do by making sure that you:
4. Come With a Plan
With all of my research and notes in tow, I like to come into my first week with a sort of game plan. Maybe it is a deadline driven task list for the week. Maybe it is some fresh ideas for how to do things. Maybe it is a pitch. Either way, this is an opportunity for your employer to see that: a) you take initiative, b) you are organized, and c) you are goal-driven. You don’t want to just do your work. You want to add value. When the company succeeds, you succeed. Otherwise, you are (to put it bluntly) a poor choice and a poor investment. You don’t want that. You want to prove yourself every single day. And you want to build that kind of expectation and accountability right from the get-go. Synonymize yourself with high expectations and make it clear, it isn’t just the company that expects that these goals are achieved. You also set these expectations for yourself.
Now that you have demonstrated that you are an asset, you should:
5. Bring in That Sugar (Literally and Figuratively)
It isn’t enough just to do your job well. You also want to connect with people, so be sweet. And by be sweet, I mean a) actually be a kind, considerate, and personable human being, and also b) bring actual sugar in some kind of granular form for people to consume (like cookies).
Hopefully being a kind, considerate, and personable human being is, in itself, its own reward, but in case it isn’t (or in case you need further reasoning beyond intrinsic value) consider the instrumental value—you + nice to people= people nice to you (usually). This especially holds true when you meet people for the first time. People will start to associate you with pleasant interactions, which is definitely a plus for moving forward and your inevitable future interactions (and networking prospects). Now, I can’t account for the occasional not-so-nice person. They seem to exist everywhere. However, hopefully you’ll eventually win them over in time. And if not in time, in cookies!
Which leads me back to actual sugar. Nothing will make you more popular than food. Most people are into sugar, especially in the morning with coffee and/or when 2 pm rolls around. So bring in your secret recipe cookies, your grandma’s famous fudge, or a batch of muffins you sneakily picked up from a nearby bakery. Whatever your signature sugared-treat is—bring it. Your coworkers/bosses will certainly be glad you were chosen over another inconsiderate (i.e., non-sugar-bringing) potential employee.
The fact of the matter is, you talked your big game during the interview process. You told everyone all about the fantastic things you have to offer and all of the reasons why you are the best person for the job. That talking was the easy part. Now you have to actually do the work. You have to show everyone exactly what it is you can do. And there is no time better than your first week. Do your research, bring some questions, listen and sythesize, come with a plan, and shower people with sugar. Good luck, go forth, and conquer.
You’ve got this.
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 Of course, we will (charitably) assume that I impressed during my first week at MerusCase, otherwise this blog would be null and void.