new job, Five Do’s & Don’ts When Starting a New Job at Any Level

Five Do’s & Don’ts When Starting a New Job at Any Level

*Insert stat about the number of layoffs over the last 2, 3, 4 months* How about we skip past the specifics, because who really wants to see more negative things? However, this means that many people will be starting new jobs because (1) people need to work and (2) companies need people to produce and support the products and services they supply to customers.

For many people it may have been years, even decades, since they’ve been the “new employee”. Let’s admit it, it can be intimidating, scary, deflating, foreign, difficult, embarrassing, and stressful to be the newbie.

Here are five simple do’s and don’ts when starting a new job at any level:

Do: Carry a notebook and pen everywhere!

Yes, those old fashioned things people doodle with in meetings. No, you shouldn’t use your phone. No, you probably will not simply remember it for later.


Because your brain might explode from all of the new processes, procedures, names, industry knowledge, and technologies that you are required to learn at your new work place. You won’t remember everything. Carry a notebook and pen with you at all times, because you never know when you’ll catch part of a random conversation from a coworker in the hallway, and it is the precise nugget of information you needed to know three hours ago when you couldn’t figure out why the square peg wouldn’t go through the round hole.

Don’t: Say “I know that.”

Do I mean literally? No. But if you do say those words, it better raise a red flag in your brain. Take a hard, introspective look at yourself. Do you really “know that”? Or do you think you do because that’s how you did it at your last job? At your job, the acronym ‘nvm’ might not mean ‘never mind,’ it might mean ‘no voicemail’. Extra clarity never hurts! Plus, if you say or think “I know that”, I can almost guarantee you will quit listening to what comes next and disregard what came prior.

Do: Raise your hand.

There is a reason when someone is trying to become proficient in a foreign language, the best thing they can do is go live in the country where it is the native language. Total immersion is one of the quickest and most effective ways to learn. That’s exactly what you’re doing when you’re a new employee. Raise your hand to help out a co-worker, assist in a project with a different department, run an errand with the delivery guy, or join an employee group or committee. Plunge head-first into any scenario where you can learn all facets of your new company.

Don’t: Decide after a few months that it’s not for you and quit.

Are there circumstances where you should jump ship because of egregious actions? Sure, but it’s an outlier. My point is the people who interviewed you have been in the organization for a lot longer than you. Throughout the interview process, they identified skills and abilities in you that they believe indicate you will succeed within the company and in your role. There will be a “honeymoon” period where things are new and exciting, a period where you realize you have a lot to learn about the X’s and O’s, and a period where you’re just not very good at your job yet. It can be disheartening and that’s OKAY! Just don’t make up your mind that it’s not for you at that point. They believed in you, and now you need to believe in yourself.

Do: Strive for progress, not perfection. And track it.

Many companies have key performance indicators, success metrics, learning programs, onboarding meetings, progress reports, and all sorts of systematic ways to track progress for all their employees (if they don’t, find a method to track it yourself). I challenge you not to view this negatively or as a form of micromanagement, but use it to your advantage. It is a great way to boost your own self-confidence. Weekly, monthly, and quarterly review your numbers/metrics/reports and see how far you’ve come since the beginning. This is the time when exponential growth happens, and it’ll help combat those days when you feel inadequate and unable to do your job well. Also, this is really what your superiors want to see – progress. Are you learning, are you implementing, are you on the way to being a fully functioning member of the team?

Nate Giffin

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