5 Things You Should Do When Starting a New Job

September 20, 2017

When starting a new job, the most important thing is to be humble.

Starting a new job is exciting at first. Then, invariably, a few days pass and you start thinking things like – what should I do? Am I doing a good job? Should I bother my boss with a stupid question? How do I use the printer?

It’s okay, that’s totally normal. There’s almost always a sense of awkwardness when starting a job. So long as you follow a few guidelines, you’ll be all right.

What are those guidelines, exactly? LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dr. Chaz Austin lists them all in his course, Succeeding in a New Job. But five things he mentioned are:

1. Be humble.

Arguably the most important on the list – when you start a job, the last thing you should do is endlessly talk about the way you did things at your old company or presume that you know everything on day one.

Instead, come into a new job with a “beginner’s mind,” Austin said. That means listening, instead of talking, and really understanding what the needs of the organization and the personalities of the workforce are before coming to any conclusions.

Also, a new job is a time for learning – yes, you might have had success before in a similar position at a different company, but each organization is different. Find out what has worked (and what hasn't) for your new organization, before assuming you are an expert.

This applies to bosses too. Instead of starting a job and immediately barking orders, meet with your colleagues and direct reports and learn from them. By doing that, you’ll be able to lead much more effectively, while gaining their respect.

2. Be there early – but don’t stay too late.

You want to come to your new job with energy and enthusiasm. That said, Austin warned against staying all hours of the night in an effort to show off that enthusiasm. If you start working long hours like that, it’ll become part of your routine and you’ve set yourself up for burnout and a poor work-life balance.

So yes, you should work and work hard when starting a new job, Austin said. But, you should also maintain a clear boundary of when work ends and stick to it. Your boss will actually respect this, and it’ll set you up for success over the long haul.

And yet there’s a caveat that Austin admits is a bit contradictory, but is reality. If you can, get to the office earlier than your boss, even if it’s just ten minutes before.

“Politically, it looks good to your bosses when you're there before them,” Austin said. “You're making an impression, and it creates a favorable one when they walk in and see that you're already hard at work.”

3. Mirror your colleagues.

A bit controversial, but this advice is deeply rooted in human psychology. When starting a new job, it’s important that your colleagues like you and accept you. Fair or not, how much your colleagues accept you goes a long way to you succeeding in that role, Austin said.

“Starting a new job is like joining a new tribe, and people can sense whether you belong or don't,” Austin said. “So, mirror your co-workers. You want to be perceived as part of the team. Dress as if you do.”

This advice is echoed by fellow LinkedIn Learning Instructor Dorie Clark. She said the quickest way to make someone like you when meeting them is finding a common bond you share, whether it be a sports team you both like or a friend you both know or whatever.

The point – people tend to like people who are like them. When starting a new job, dress and act in a way that reflects the organization's culture, at least at first.

4. Meet with your new manager regularly.

A manager ultimately wants to get an employee to be able to take on a responsibility, so they don’t have to worry about it. Say you are hired to run email marketing – your boss wants to be able to fully trust that email marketing will go well under your watch, without them having to worry about each subject line that goes out.

But, to get to that point, you in your new role need to learn exactly what your boss is looking for and what the market demands. Hence, in the beginning it’s actually better to meet with your boss more, instead of less, as that’ll make them trust you faster, Austin said.

Ironically enough, this will lead to you actually requiring less guidance by your boss in the longterm. By meeting with them often early, learning from them and building trust, you’ll have much more freedom moving forward, which is a win-win for both you and your manager.

5. Go to the gym! (or start whatever new habit you want to form)

This last point is not from Austin’s LinkedIn Learning course, but instead Gretchen Rubin’s, a best-selling author and habits expert. One thing Rubin found in her research is that starting something new – like starting a new job – means the creation of a new routine.

And, the absolute best time to build new habits is when you are forming a new routine. 

So, if you want to start exercising more, a perfect time to go to the gym is the first day of your new job. If you do this, it’ll more easily become part of your new daily routine, and eventually become a habit.

This could work for anything, not just the gym – meditating, yoga, reading, learning, etc. This means a new job isn’t just an exciting time professionally for you, but also personally.

*Image from Kenny Louie, Flickr

Want to learn more? Watch Austin’s full course, Succeeding in a New Job.  

Other LinkedIn Learning courses you might be interested in are: