By Miriam Salpeter
When you land a job finally, the important work isn't over. It's essential to do your best to impress your boss and teammates right from the start. First impressions count; your supervisor and colleagues will judge you based on how you act and what you do from the very first day. It is much easier to start off on the right foot than it is to change their perceptions later.
Holly Paul, PricewaterhouseCooper's U.S. recruiting leader, suggests the following tips to be sure you start off strong:
1. Time your arrival on the first day. Paul suggests: "Arrive early, but not too early, to demonstrate responsibility and passion." Just as you planned to arrive at interviews about 15 minutes early, that's a good interval for your first day, too. If you're not familiar with traffic patterns getting to your new office, take a test run or get to the area early, then stop for coffee before going to the office. "Being early allows you to collect your thoughts, take a last minute stop to the bathroom and think about how you will exhibit your personal brand on day one," Paul notes.
2. Think about your wardrobe. Select what you plan to wear in advance. Keep in mind what other people wear, but, Paul says that it's "better to be overdressed than under dressed. Think about how people were dressed when you interviewed and pick something that allows you to fit in comfortably. Plan a neat and professional outfit to wear."
3. Step up your company research. Since you landed the job, you probably already conducted some due diligence, and you have a sense of what the company is about and their values. Now that you will be working there, review the company's website once more to learn about its mission, lines of business, and culture from an employee's perspective. According to Paul, new employees should make a point to review recent news about the company and the industry. She suggests: "Connect with people at the company through LinkedIn and read their profiles so you get to know the team prior to starting your job."
Find out if there are any LinkedIn and Facebook groups for employees and identify professional groups your colleagues may attend so you can network and keep up-to-speed on the latest business news.
4. Practice introducing yourself. Direct eye contact and firm handshakes demonstrate assertiveness and confidence. Since you found a job, it's likely you have a good elevator pitch. Just because you have a job now doesn't mean you won't still use it. Re-evaluate your, "Hello, my name is" story to reflect your new role.
Remember, your pitch should always target the person you're meeting, so restructure it if necessary to appeal to your new colleagues and to make the right first impression.
5. Ask questions. Paul says: "The best questions show that you've done your homework on the organization and that you are ready to learn more." When you first join a new team, people expect you to have questions. She says, "Take advantage of being the newbie. You will not have the same opportunity after you have been on the job for six months, so make sure to ask even the questions that may seem mundane. Once you have your legs under you, the team will expect that you know more and be ready to contribute and will expect you to begin to figure out the answers to questions on your own."
6. Show what you know. Look for ways to share your skills and knowledge. "Although you will spend a lot of time listening when you first start a job, make sure to speak up when you have an idea to share," Paul says. She suggests you phrase your ideas and suggestions so that it doesn't appear to them that you think you already know all the answers. For example, begin an inquiry with, "Have you ever tried...?"
7. Communicate professionally. Make a point to enunciate your words and project your voice. "You can best represent your personal brand by being yourself, and be clear about what that means," Paul says. "You need to speak with extreme clarity to demonstrate who you are, what you're passionate about, and what you want to be known for. You also need to be able to articulate and exude the authentic you—both with your words and your demeanor."
8. Share your passions. Talk about your values and interests to connect on a personal level. Part of your professional identity includes knowing and articulating who you are and what's important to you—your values and passions.
"When you're living in alignment with your values and integrating your passions into what you do, you are excited, engaged, and unstoppable. Connecting your career plan with your values and passions gives you the opportunity to align who you are with what you do and how you do it," Paul explains.
9. Hone those listening skills. Even if you're tired or overwhelmed with new information, be sure to pay attention when you meet new people and learn new things. Focus on learning names, which should boost your likability factor. Paul says: "The first few weeks on the job should be spent absorbing, reflecting, and learning." You want to be sure no one thinks it is a waste of time talking to you because you never remember or pay attention to what anyone says. People like good listeners, and if you can earn a reputation as someone who pays attention and gets things right the first time, you will be on your way to professional success.
10. Take notes. "Write down everything from names and positions to daily tasks and expectations. Every detail counts and you will thank yourself later," Paul says. When you write things down, the person speaking to you will recognize how much you value the interaction and will be more likely to be amenable to follow-up questions. If you can make everyone feel important by jotting down some notes when you talk, you will be on the way to a successful new job or career.
Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to empower their success.