By Robin Brodrick
How to Get the Most out of Your 1st Month in a New Job
Take a between-jobs vacation
Allow yourself the luxury of one to two weeks off before you start a new job. There is a good chance that you are changing jobs because your last gig was frustrating or you were overworked and were on the verge of burning out. It does not matter if you choose to have a staycation or a vacation; a few days off in between companies will give you some much needed downtime so that your nerves can recover and so that you can start your new job with a clear head and a lot of energy.
Carry a small notebook and pen everywhere you go so that you can jot down the tidbits that you pick up here and there during your first month. Just slip it into your pocket and you will never have to search for a lost sticky note or be embarrassed that you cannot remember the security code for the alarm on the door. You can pick up this eco-friendly spiral jotter and pen for $1.38.
Don’t be shy
Your manager or assigned buddy will likely introduce you to your immediate team members. If the company is small or mid-sized like Veristat then you may get introduced to everyone in the company. If the company is large then you may need to take it upon yourself to meet employees in other groups or departments. A great way to do this is to get in the habit of holding the door for people. When they thank you just say “You’re welcome. I don’t think we’ve met yet. I’m new here. My name is Joe Smith and I work in Department X.”
Do you have trouble remembering names? Have no fear! There are several ways you can improve your memory. After the initial introduction, let the other person talk while you practice one of these techniques to remember their name.
- Repeat their name in your head several times. Extend the syllables so that they sound funny or disturbing. For example, Christy would become “Chriiiiiiiis-tyyyyyyyyy!”
- Repeat their name out loud several times. If they say, “Hi John, my name is Christy”, your response would be “Hi Christy. Is that Christy with a “C” or Kristy with a “K”?”
- If writing things down improves your memory then you can jot their name down in the notebook that you are carrying around with you. You can also jot down some additional things that you noticed about them or learned about them. Best practice is to wait until they have walked away to do this to avoid creating an awkward situation.
Confidence and capacity
Avoid letting yourself be affected by impostor syndrome (a psychological condition in which one feels inadequate even there there is a plethora of evidence to the contrary or in which one cannot internalize their accomplishments). Learning something new makes everyone feel insecure. Your new employer hired you because they think you are the best person for the job. They have confidence in you and you should have confidence in yourself. Be mindful of the difference between confidence and arrogance. Try to figure things out on your own before asking for help, but do ask for help if you need it.
Be honest about your capacity. You are still learning about the company and the company is still learning about you. Let your manager know if you feel overwhelmed or like you have not fully grasped a concept or procedure. They can help you re-prioritize or give you additional training to get you up to speed.
Don’t talk about your past unless you are asked
If you were on a first date it would be advisable to avoid the topic of your last relationship. The same principal applies here. When new employees talk incessantly about their last company it gives the impression that they are not fully committed to their new company. To avoid leaving a bad taste in your colleagues’ mouths it is best to stay away from this topic.
Ask why and listen to the answer
Ask why, and ask it a lot. You are the fresh pair of eyes at the company. Employees who have been there a long time may be jaded to processes or procedures that were once sufficient but could now be made more efficient or effective. At this point you should just be asking why and jotting down notes if you have ideas about improvements that could be made. If you comment on your thoughts in real-time you may gain the undesired reputation of being a know-it-all. Instead, schedule a meeting with your manager to review your ideas at the end of your first month.
Learning a new role can be mentally and physically exhausting. Be sure to eat well, exercise, and get a full night’s sleep during your first month in a new job. This way you will have a more positive attitude, a better attention span, and be able to grasp complex concepts more easily. Schedule a fun activity on the weekends to take your mind off of the stress you may be feeling.