How to Start a New Job

Congratulations, you did it! You decided that it was time for a move and you took the necessary steps to make it happen. Now that you’re ready for your new job, its time to put your best foot forward. While most of these ideas are obvious, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself of these good practices. You only get one first impression—make it a good one!

Employer Expectations:
• Having a positive attitude is one of the most important factors in achieving job success. Don’t carry negative feelings into your new workplace– resolve them elsewhere.
• Always be on time. How long will it take to get to work? Allow a few extra minutes for traffic problems and getting children to daycare. Set an alarm clock to help you get up. Being reliable and dependable gains the trust and respect of your new employer.
• Try for good attendance. If you’re going to be out sick, ask your supervisor the proper method of notification.
• Know and follow all office rules, policies and procedures. Read the employee manuals.
• Listen and learn. Be open to new ways of doing things, even if you were taught differently in school or on a different job. Resist temptation to find fault, criticize or complain until you can prove you can do something a better way.
• Meet and exceed your employer’s expectations.
• Learn all you can about the job you were hired to do before thinking about moving up.

• When you need to talk with your supervisor, ask when would be a good time to meet.
• Take advantage of your performance reviews. Stay calm. Learn from them. Ask how you can improve. Show job-related classes you’ve taken. Most supervisors appreciate employees who are concerned about performance and finding ways to improve. Your job success is also their success.
• Ask for help when you need it. If you make a mistake, let your supervisor know immediately. Find out how you can fix it.
• Follow the proper chain of command. Discuss items with your supervisor first.

• Prior to starting the job, have all of your appointments with doctors, dentists, etc., out of the way. Have your transportation and daycare lined up so you don’t immediately have to take time off. Have an emergency plan for daycare and transportation.
• Be willing to learn new skills. Keep a record of classes you’re taking that relate to the job. Review this with your supervisor at an appropriate time.
• Take time in making new friends. Find positive and upbeat coworkers. Avoid negative, critical and gossiping people.
• Be clean and well-groomed. Wear clean and job-appropriate clothes. Pay attention to how your coworkers are dressed.
• Keep your personal life and problems at home. Don’t use the employer’s equipment and time to do personal things like making personal phone calls, using the copy machine or resolving your personal problems on the job. If you’re having trouble resolving personal problems, counseling, support groups or employee assistance programs may be useful.
• Create the image. Dress for the job you want next.
• Be patient with yourself and your employer. It takes time to get used to, learn and like a new job.
• Volunteer for projects and committees if your work is completed and your supervisor approves.

Getting Along With Others:
• Don’t express your opinions, biases or prejudices about others while you’re at work. Diversity is a priority in the workplace.
• Accept criticism as constructive. Don’t become defensive or take criticism personally. Thank people for their input. Consider changing if it’s warranted. If you’re unsure how to handle the situation, check with your supervisor.
• Always be friendly to everyone. Be willing to go the extra mile. This creates goodwill with employers, coworkers and customers.
• Notice who your boss relies on and model yourself after them.
• Find a mentor, someone who knows the employer and the job well enough to coach you or show you the ropes.
• Realize playing politics or power games could be dangerous and backfire on you.
• Treat everyone with courtesy and respect. Remember, as you climb the career ladder, you may meet the same people on your way down the ladder.
• Keep your emotions under control. The job isn’t the place to let your feelings get out of control.
• Show appreciation. Let your supervisor(s) know you appreciate their training, support, input, feedback, etc.
• Strive to be positively recognized. Be friendly and helpful to everyone at all levels.
• Be a team player. Be willing to help. Know the goals of your job and how your job fits into the overall organization. Avoid a “know-it-all attitude.” Try to fit in with the team. Keep your sense of humor.

Nancy Segal is a federal human resources training and job search expert. Following her own 30-year federal HR career (much of it at the senior level), she founded Solutions for the Workplace LLC in 2003 to provide an HR management perspective to both federal managers and astute applicants to U.S. government positions. Nancy has unmatched federal career management insight, high standards, and respect for people’s time, and her clients use this to their advantage.