So you’ve nailed the phone screen, you hit a home run at the interview, you got the job offer and you signed on the dotted line. All of the hard work is done, right? Just when you come down from the “I got a new job- how will I decorate my new cubicle” high, reality sinks in and you realize now you need to go through the exhausting and nerve-wracking process of fitting in at a new company. Some companies might seem like they are cut from the same mold, but once you peel back their surfaces, now you are looking at new processes to learn, rules to abide by, and a new culture to fit in.
So where on earth do you start? Fortunately, Kathryn Vercillo wrote a very good article outlining tips on how to adjust to a new job and make sure you get off on the right foot, and hit your stride with your new position and new crew as quickly as you can say “So how do I work this fax machine?”
- Be friendly to people. Any job is better when you are friends with the people that you are working with. You probably don’t want to immediately start going to happy hours with these folks since you don’t really know the office politics of the place yet but you should definitely be friendly to everyone that you are meeting. Be conversational and actually listen to what these people tell you. Ultimately this is going to make it easier to get used to the new work place.
- Create some personal space for yourself at the office. Whether you have your own office, a cubicle or just a desk of your own, there must be some space there that is just for you. Even if you’re in a shared space, you might be able to carve a small spot for yourself – the employee locker for example. In this space, you should put some personal effects such as photos. This will help you to feel more at home in the new work environment.
- Watch and listen. Ultimately, the key to getting used to a new job and the new environment that you are working in is to figure out the ins and outs of the place. The best way to do that is to pay attention to what is going on around you. Usually the rules that you get in the employee manual and the way that things actually take place in the office are very different. You’ll learn them by noticing what’s going on in the office or work space. The more you learn, the more that you’re going to fit in.
- Keep lots of lists. At the beginning of the day, you should make a “to do” list and a list of things that you are excited about for the day. At the end of the day, you should make a list of things that went well. These lists will keep you organized and focused on what is good about this new job. You should also keep a list throughout the day of the questions that come up. Some of these will be questions like “where does everyone go for lunch” and “who is responsible for changing the toner in the copy machine” and others will be more involved questions. You can ask these questions immediately or hold on to them until the end of the week to see if they get answered naturally. You may also have lists of job duties, passwords for the computer and security system and training classes that you have to attend. By keeping all of these lists, you are going to make yourself more prepared for the job at hand and this will help you to get more comfortable with the new place.
- Get there early and stay there late. You don’t have to be there all of the time but fifteen minutes before and after the time that you’re supposed to be at work can give you more time than you would imagine to just start getting used to the place. This time can be used to get to know the building and surrounding area, explore the computer software, set up your desk the way that you like it or chat with people who are also there.
- Stay positive. One of the things that makes it difficult to adjust to a new job is negativity. If you assume that people don’t like you or you automatically make judgments about things at the office that you aren’t going to like then you’re going to find it difficult to approach the job with a positive attitude. Try to focus on the things that you like so far about the work and stay away from anyone that is saying negative things on the job.
- Try to get involved in a project. You are going to have to spend the first few days or weeks of a job just learning the job but try to get your own little project going or to join a team project as soon as possible after starting the new job. This will help you to feel more involved and invested in the business and it will help you to be more excited about your new work. Work with your supervisor to select an appropriate project so that you don’t overstep your boundaries. He or she will probably be excited about the fact that you want to get so involved!
- Relax. Accept the fact that you probably aren’t going to get used to the new job immediately. You are going to make some mistakes. You are going to step on some toes. You are going to get confused or you’re going to confuse others by doing things differently than what they’re used to. It’s okay. Relax. The thing that you really need to get used to a new job is just time. Let yourself have it. Soon enough, you’re going to feel like you’ve been there forever!