- Job searching can be strenuous, but finally landing the perfect job is a rewarding accomplishment.
- However, you shouldn’t get too comfortable – once you sign your contract, you have to be sure to live up to the expectations outlined by your employers.
- Things like asking for help and feedback can help you get a strong start at your new job.
- Here are the eight smartest things I did when I started my new job.
Quick: It’s your first day at your new job. What do you do? How do you make sure that you start things off on the right foot when you’re surrounded by intelligent and intensely driven people?
That’s the conundrum I was faced with two and a half years ago when I first entered the workforce as a staff writer at a startup.
It was a scary, exciting, and slightly overwhelming experience. But I had some help from my friends and managers – not to mention people on the internet who claimed to know the best ways to get ahead in a new gig. I was able to cobble together the bits of advice I got into the best combination for me and my job.
Here are the eight smartest things I did when I first started my job:
1. Asked for help
At first, asking questions felt like navigating through a field of landmines. I felt like taking one false step and I could derail all of the work I had put in up to that point.
But once I relaxed into my new role and saw what other people on my team were doing, it became clear to me what types of questions were helpful and which were just me being too much in my own head. That made it easier to ask direct questions with confidence, rather than resorting to the old "this may be a stupid question, but -" trap.
2. Read the wiki
Many startups have awiki, a website where employees can quickly access everything from procedural information, like how to expense items to the company, to basic things like how each team contributes to company goals.
Finding the right phrases and keywords, by paying attention at orientation as well as asking my manager and employees who'd worked at the company for a while, helped me access the information I needed on the wiki. And checking for timestamps was vital to this process, since working at a startup means adapting to an ever-changing landscape of policies and processes. I bookmarked pages I'd need to access on a regular basis, like the office floorplan, and vital information about my team, which turned out to be enormously helpful, too.
3. Leaned in to using new tech
Every company has its own way of doing things, and that usually means you have to learn how to use a new system or product to get things done. For me, one new bit of tech wasSlack, a chat service that lets you keep in touch with everyone in the company without clogging up their inbox. Regularly using it also helped to foster positive relationships between me and my coworkers.
4. Set up 1:1’s with people on my team
When you're just starting out in your career, it's useful to talk to people on your team to find and close your inevitable gaps in knowledge and ask the silly questions that might be frowned upon once you've been working together for a week or so - like, "What exactly is your job here?"
5. Paid attention to best practices
Taking cues from my coworkers, in emails, Slack messages and at meetings, was essential to success at my company. In doing so, I was able to discern the do's and don'ts for that workspace, rather than having to make mistakes and possibly annoy my coworkers and editor.
Don't get me wrong: Mistakes can be a valuable learning tool. But if you can avoid the more embarrassing ones in your first few months on the job, the whole experience is a lot less stressful.
6. Used my ‘enrichment’ stipend
I was lucky enough to work somewhere that valued continued education and showed it with a $500 stipend for things like books, online courses, and writing workshops. I used the stipend to learn new skills to apply to my new role.
If that isn't available at your company, there are still a ton of free resources available, likeHarvard's database of free online courses. You can also check if your company has any old training videos that can help you build your skills.
7. Volunteered for (almost) every opportunity that came my way
Even though I had a lot going on, I tried to be open to each new assignment or opportunity that became available to me. That allowed me to expand my role and try things that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to.
Having that experience under my belt meant that later on I was better equipped to pitch projects that were somewhat outside of my job description, like creating a social-media-ready series of profiles about getting out of student debt.
8. Asked for feedback
Nowadays, I'm big on feedback. I knew that I had a review coming up after my first six months on the job, and I wanted to make sure I passed. So even though I was a bit self-conscious about my work, I forced myself to consistently ask for feedback from my editor.
I even made a note to bring it up every two weeks and created a spreadsheet to track the feedback I got so that I had concrete evidence to support my self-evaluation. And as it turns out, that paid off and I passed my first review.