So I’ve been at work for nearly three weeks now, and I’ve put together a list of ten top tips to bear in mind when starting work:
1. Ask questions. No matter how silly they sound. I’ve asked questions as silly as “Would it be more appropriate to call or email this person?”, but picking up tricks, like who responds promptly to emails and who needs ten phone calls before they respond, will make getting to grips with your job easier and quicker.
2. Check everything. Before you submit something, get someone to check it over. It’s better to bug people a little than to make an error that could end up timely or costly. Additionally, if something they’ve said doesn’t add up, double check. Your superiors can make mistakes too, and would prefer to have them pointed out before it’s too late to change them.
3. Make lists. If you’re given a list of things to do, write them down. All of them. Even that silly little job that you know you won’t forget. You just might, and even if you don’t, ticking things off your to-do list is incredibly satisfying.
4. Say yes. If someone asks if you can do something: call someone, work on Saturday, carry something… whatever it is, say yes. You’ll look eager and dedicated to the job. However, if you physically can’t do something, don’t say yes. You’ll look worse when you haven’t done something you said you would.
5. Arrive early and leave late. Just as in number 4, spending more time at work than you’re technically contracted to do will win major brownie points. Plus it gives you a bit longer each day to find your feet. My bus timetable dictates that I consistently arrive 15 minutes early and leave 15 minutes late, but I have on occasion stayed until the following bus (an hour after I technically finish). There’s nothing like a good first impression, and it means if you’re ever late for any reason people aren’t going to automatically assume you’re slacking off.
6. Suggest things. Don’t come in on your first day and suggest how to radically reform how your boss runs her department. She has been there a great deal longer, and knows the business better than you. However, once you feel you know what you’re talking about, feel free to make suggestions. You’ll appear constructive and innovative, even if they don’t take the suggestion.
7. Find out when deadlines are. You don’t know what the important jobs are. You may be given simple tasks at first, but you do need to know when they should be done by. This is just as important if they’re ongoing tasks, because if you aren’t given a deadline, you may end up never finishing, and then your boss could suddenly say “let’s review that project in half an hour,” and you’ll panic. Find out the deadlines, and get the jobs done as early as possible.
8. Write a script for phonecalls. If, like me, you detest making phone calls, a tip I’ve picked up is to write out a script for what I want to say. True, it won’t always work, and people will always say unexpected things (I’ve called up to say “Hi, it’s Becky from Vines Marketing” and then gone on to discuss an event, when the person on the other end didn’t even know what Vines was). But it will help you keep calm at first and eventually you’ll pick up the knack (or so I’ve been told).
9. Smile. When meeting your new coworkers, you’ll be the new kid. People at Vines are incredibly friendly, but chances are, like me, you’ll be kind of overwhelmed. Unless you work in a small office, you’ll forget names and job roles. But you’ll pick them up as time goes by, and being smiley is the first step to making it not matter if you can’t remember whether the IT guy was called Nick or Nigel.
10. Dress smart. Confession time. On day two, it was commented that my skirt was a bit short. Not a mistake I’ll be making again. It was pretty embarrassing. Dress conservatively for the first few weeks until you’re certain what’s acceptable. Keep an eye on what other people are wearing too.
Some of these tips will be completely inappropriate in a few weeks time, but for the first few weeks at least, I think they’re a good basis for making a good impression at work and hitting the ground running.