Priorities to Survive the First Months of a New Job

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Your first days on the job are as confusing as ordering at Starbucks for the first time. The continual how’s, who’s and what’s trip up your concentration and confidence while others ‘patiently’ wait for you to figure out the ‘obvious’ system. Your mind even laments leaving the familiar labyrinth you once hopped, skipped and jumped at your last job. However, survival at this new job is more than memorising the rhythms and trying to blend in.

As someone who’s started new jobs for the last eight years within the same brand, but in different locations, I took an interest in purposefully observing my transitions. The unfamiliarity with the work, people and culture made it an exhilarating and, at times, unnerving experience. Of course, some of you might be on your fifth job, or are accustom to jumping around as a freelancer, but this was something new to me, which heightened my awareness. So here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

Play well with others and prioritise getting to know your colleagues

Business is 70% relationships and 30% badass skills. Building a rapport with your colleagues is priority numero uno and can determine a smooth or bumpy first couple of weeks. Colleagues will be able to help you out, offer advice, provide valuable resources and make you laugh when a deadline quickly approaches. They are the people who will either make you look forward to tomorrow’s workday or dread your next meeting.

Take feedback gracefully and do it right next time

You’re not going to do everything right. Odds are you’ll miss the target a few times before finding the right stance. Negative feedback can feel like you’re going to get fired tomorrow, but that’s not the case. It’s expected that you’ll make mistakes, but it’s also expected that you fix them and learn for later.

Ask those ‘dumb’ question and those other ‘dumb’ questions you’re doubting whether you should ask

Your first month, or months depending on the company, is a grace period of stupidly obvious questions. These can go beyond ‘Where is this’ or ‘Who is that’ and include, ‘What’s normal in this situation’ or ‘Who’s the best person to talk to regarding such-and-such’. There are unwritten rules, usually for good reason, that you will only discover by asking.

Understand the new way before imposing your own

We all of course want to dive in and save the day. However, each company has its own structure, methods and norms. Whether you agree with them or not is not relevant in the beginning. It’s ensuring you show your interest to understand their reasoning and place. Giving this time helps as such things unfold slowly and undercurrents can be reluctant to form.

Get on the new systems and websites as quickly as possible

Log in to this or fill out that takes time out of your day. It’s frustrating and usually involves calling or emailing IT support. My advice is to find all of those systems and make sure you can get onto them the first week. Then the second week, you can focus better on your job, well, if you remembered to save all the new passwords.

Put in some extra hours

Getting in earlier than usual or staying late can help to absorb materials and processes with little distraction. When starting a new job, you‘re in training mode dragging an extra 40 kilos of concerns and uncertainties behind you. Putting in the extra hours also demonstrates your interest in the company, work and its people.

There is always something humbling about starting a new job. You’re the kid on the playground everyone’s curious about. This transition should be savoured, not ignored. I’ve found myself envious at other jobs by the new people. They can challenge the norms and ask those questions that could potentially lead to a new way of working or beneficial idea. So enjoy being the newbie, but just keep these things in mind to survive those first months.