10 Expert Tips For Starting A New Job And Ensuring First-Week Success

No one should show up for their first day at a new job without some tips in hand. And yet, that’s exactly what I did for my first job out of college. I’d moved 2,000 miles to a city where I knew no one, and I felt disoriented as I stepped into the office. Not wanting to seem naive, I hadn’t asked many questions. I showed up unprepared—clueless about dress code or even when I could take my lunch break.

To be clear, a company’s HR department should have a solid onboarding process in place, and managers should put energy into making new hires feel welcome. But what if your company doesn’t yet have an HR department? Or what if your manager is less than forthcoming?

Even if you do start on the wrong foot (it happens!), if you continually challenge that initial experience in multiple different settings, your colleagues may eventually change their mind about you.

You need to ensure your own first-week success. I spoke with HR professionals, career coaches, and executives to get their best tips for new hires who want to start on the right foot, and this is what they said.

Why is your first week on the job crucial for long-term success?

First impressions only happen once, and they can last a lifetime. No pressure, right? But just how important are first impressions to the long-term success of your career? Let’s see what the research suggests about your initial period on a new job.

The majority of executives give new hires less than three months to prove themselves. A 2016 Robert Half study found that 63% of CFOs allow a new employee less than three months to show their value—and 9% give them less than a month.

Ninety-one percent of employees consider quitting a job within the first month. That’s just one of the findings from a 2018 Robert Half study of 9,000 job seekers in 11 countries. Poor management, inconsistency between how a job was advertised and how it plays out in real life, failure to fit in with corporate culture, and a poor onboarding experience were all reasons that might send a new hire packing. How you start a job has a huge impact on how things go long-term.

Science suggests that first impressions are annoyingly persistent. According to a 2010 University of Western Ontario study, even if you later present yourself in ways that challenge a person’s first impression of you, their initial judgment tends to linger—especially within the same context in which they first met you.

“Imagine you have a new colleague at work and your impression of that person is not very favorable,” says the study’s lead author, Bertram Gawronski. “A few weeks later, you meet your colleague at a party and you realize he is actually a very nice guy. Although you know your first impression was wrong, your gut response to your new colleague will be influenced by your new experience only in contexts that are similar to the party. However, your first impression will still dominate in all other contexts.”

63% of CFOs allow a new employee less than three months to show their value—and 9% give them less than a month.

The good news? Even if you do start on the wrong foot (it happens!), if you continually challenge that initial experience in multiple different settings, your colleagues may eventually change their mind about you.

1. One week before you start: Do your research

Before your first day, experts recommend you research the company. Check out social media posts to get a feel for the office culture and appropriate attire.

“If the hiring manager didn’t provide you with a first-day checklist, reach out a few days prior and ask if there’s anything they’d like you to bring or prepare,” suggests Jon Hill, chairman and CEO of recruiting firm The Energists. “Get a copy of the employee handbook before your first day so you can review it and know what questions you have in advance.”

Depending on your role, it may also help to

Research your company’s competitors.

Test out the software you’ll be using on the job.

Look up your colleagues’ LinkedIn profiles.

2. One week before you start: Test run everything

If you’ll be working on-site, test your commute. If you’ll be working from home, test your internet connection, computer, software, and other equipment you’ll need for the job. Know that everything works smoothly to help you relax for the big day.

“Demonstrating a desire to be proactive and prepared will make a great impression and show your employer that you want to have the best start possible and be effective from day one.”

– Christa Juenger, VP of Strategy and Coaching Services, Intoo USA

3. Three days ahead: Make contact with your manager

Your manager chose you, and they want you to succeed. Before day one, send them an email or a Slack message to check in.

“Ask about how people in the office generally dress for work (even when working from home!), whether there is anything specific that would be helpful to know on your first day, if you’ll need to bring or prepare anything special with you that day, and what might be expected of you in your first week,” recommends Christa Juenger, VP of Strategy and Coaching Services at Intoo USA. “Demonstrating a desire to be proactive and prepared will make a great impression and show your employer that you want to have the best start possible and be effective from day one.”

4. The day before you start: Confirm your schedule

Don’t assume you know what time to show up or when your lunch break is. Even if it’s in the job description, there might be important details missing. That’s what happened to Jack Zmudzinski, a Senior Associate at software development company Future Processing.

“I once started a job and turned up for the first day at 9 a.m. as per the job description. When I arrived, the whole team was already there finishing up with chatting over breakfast,” recalls Zmudzinski. “Nobody had thought to tell me that this was the routine, and I ended up feeling awkward.”

To avoid a mishap like this, ask about schedules and routines ahead of time. What time will you be expected to arrive? What time does everyone usually leave? When is your lunch break and for how long?

5. On your first day: Introduce yourself to the team—virtually or in person

Your arrival on-site (or online) should never be a surprise to the rest of the company. HR or your boss will usually introduce you to the team before you start. But if they don’t, take the initiative to do so yourself. Ask your boss if you can send an email or a Slack message to let your team know who you are and what you do.

6. On your first day: Arrive early

To show up late at work, especially during your first week, is never a good signal. Plan your commute to account for traffic jams, getting lost, and parking. Zoë Morris, president of Frank Recruitment Group, recommends getting to your job 30 to 40 minutes earlier than you normally would.

“If there are delays getting there, then it should still leave you more than enough of a buffer to arrive on time without feeling panicked,” she explains. “And if there are no disasters, then it gives you a chance to go and grab a coffee and relax for half an hour before getting to work. It’s a win-win situation and puts you in the best possible position to avoid being late on your first day.”

What if your company doesn’t yet have an HR department? Or what if your manager is less than forthcoming? You need to ensure your own first-week success.

7. In your first week: Find a buddy

Some workplaces pair every new hire with an onboarding buddy or mentor. If you aren’t so lucky, find one yourself. Your LinkedIn research will come in handy to help you identify potential work friends and their interests to help you start a conversation.

Worried about lunch alone? Don’t wait for an invite. Be the person who invites someone to lunch. “You don’t have to gregariously go over to everyone’s desk, hug, and shake their hand on the first day, but don’t be a snob either,” says Paul French, managing director of Intrinsic Executive Search.” It helps to be friendly to your coworkers from day one.

French recommends introducing yourself to your teammates and offering to treat them to lunch.

“Show that you are happy to be part of the team and that you are looking forward to building a great working relationship with everyone.”

If you’re on a remote team, schedule virtual coffee chats with your new teammates to have one-on-one time with each person. This will go a long way toward building rapport.

8. In your first week: Meet with your manager one-on-one

Microsoft analyzed the early behaviors of about 3,000 new hires. It found that when new employees met with their manager one-on-one during their first week, they benefited in three ways:

They had a larger internal network, which boosted feelings of belonging and increased their chances of staying longer.

They had better meetings.

They spent more time collaborating with their team than those who failed to have the one-on-one.

Make time to check in with your manager during your first week. It can pay dividends in the long run.

9. Every day: Don’t be afraid to ask questions

When you’re a new hire, you want to appear capable and confident to prove your value. But don’t be afraid to ask questions—especially if you’re remote.

“One thing people misunderstand about remote-first impressions is confusing asking questions to clarify tasks with pestering or being in the way,” says Tony Giacobbe, HR leader at Amica Senior Lifestyles. “It is incredibly rare for a manager to get annoyed if an employee clarifies a task to perform it better.”

Giacobbe suggests pinging your manager on Slack and being specific and unobtrusive about your request. Something as simple as, “Can you spare two minutes to hop on a call about XYZ?” is fine.

And if you’re trying to strike up a conversation to get to know your coworkers, asking lots of questions is favorable. According to research from Harvard University, asking follow-up questions makes people like you more. A follow-up question is one in which you touch on a topic that your conversation partner already mentioned, typically immediately preceding your question. A follow-up question might go something like this:

You: “So what do you do?”

Colleague: “I lead the content marketing team.”

You: “Oh, nice! I love reading the company blog. How do you come up with those article ideas?”

The worst type of question you can ask? A full switch. This is when you completely change the topic. An example of a full switch would be:

You: “So what do you do?”

Colleague: “I lead the content marketing team.”

You: “Cool. What are some of your hobbies?”

In the Harvard study, full-switch questions were rated by coders as being the least responsive. They change topics and signal to your partner that you weren’t listening.

10. Every day: Practice extra self-care

“You will most likely have the first-week jitters and some level of stress regardless of how much experience you have,” says career coach Lesli Smith. “Always go back to the basics of self-care when you’re stressed, such as sleep, hydration, and nutrition.”

Beyond that, Smith recommends anything that can help calm you, including meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, physical exercise, or simply making a list of things you’re grateful for.

Parting words: Relax, they already like you

To feel nervous before your start date is completely normal. Just remember that if the company didn’t wholeheartedly believe you were the right person, they wouldn’t have chosen you. Armed with these tips, you can prove that their decision was correct.

If you’re still losing sleep over your first week at work, take solace in this piece of advice from Kuldeep Andhare, a Manager and Solution Architect who frequently hires for his software consulting firm: “Always remember they hired you because they liked you,” he says. “It was not just your talent and experience that they liked, but it was something more than that.”

11 Common CV Mistakes According to Employers

If you’re sending out loads of CVs and not hearing anything back, it may be time to give your CV a much-needed re-vamp.

There are plenty of CV mistakes that graduates make, which don’t seem like a big deal at the time, but can majorly diminish your chances of getting the job.

Here are just a few of the most common CV mistakes, according to five employers.

1. Having spelling errors and bad grammar

Whether you proofread it yourself, or get somebody else to, checking over your CV from start to finish can be the difference between being accepted and being rejected.

“Spelling mistakes are still so common, no matter how many times someone gets told,” said Jade Thomas, Office Manager at Pure Commercial Finance.

“The best thing to do is print it out and read it before sending. You always spot so much more when it’s printed.”

The Director and Founder of Careermap, Simon Bell, advised putting your application through a spell and grammar checker like Grammarly.

2. Exaggerating the truth

Writing that you’re an expert in Microsoft Excel might seem like a great idea at the time, but when you get the job and are asked to perform a V-lookup you will instantly regret your decision.

The managing director of Illustrate Digital, Scott Jones, said: “It’s important to be confident and sure about who you are and what you have to offer, but don’t lie or oversell yourself.”

His advice? “Be real about what you know and what you’re still keen to learn. Don’t forget that skills can always be taught.”

Emily Web, HR manager at Liberty Marketing said: “Whilst it might make your CV look a bit better, it will show in an interview if you can’t back your skill levels up when questioned.”

3. Poor formatting

Poor formatting is one of the first things employers notice when looking at your CV. It can reflect badly on you, as it looks like you don’t pay close attention to detail.

“Your CV is you on paper, so make sure the layout’s as close to perfect as possible. This means no typos or jarring font changes halfway through,” said Rebecca Martin, a recruitment manager at Connect Assist

Thomas said: “If something is formatted badly or candidates don’t advertise themselves well in the first few lines, then there isn’t much point in reading on.”

“We’re looking for CVs which are easily scannable, clean and professional” explained Bell.

4. An unoriginal personal profile

If your personal profile is full of clichés, you’re going to look like someone who doesn’t have original ideas.

Bell said: “You’d be surprised by how many CVs we’ve read which use the sentence ‘I’m a hard-working, driven individual, who works well independently and as part of a team.’

“Although, these are great qualities to have, we’re looking for you to expand on this, think how have you gained these skills? How does it relate to the position you’re applying for?”

Martin agrees that writing a short personal statement or a professional bio at the top of a CV is essential. She says it “should give an idea to a prospective employer of the type of person you are, your work ethic, values and what motivates you.”

5. Not focusing on your achievements

When writing CVs there can be a tendency to focus on your duties in that role rather than your achievements.

“It’s great to see where someone has worked,” said Martin, “but the focus should be on what a person has gained from their employment and what they can bring to a new company.”

Martin explained that when writing your CV “an outline of your key achievements should be where the most time and effort should be spent, followed by your skills & experience section.”

She added “Both sections should be concise, factual and easy to review at a glance. These will hook your future employer into your CV so that they pay attention to the other sections.”

6. Making your CV too long

We asked the employers how long they think the ideal CV should be.

“Ideally, no longer than one page,” said Martin. “If that’s not possible, make that front page really stand out so your new boss will want to pay attention to the rest.”

When it comes to CVs “nobody wants to read a book,” remarked Thomas, “especially when there are so many to go through.”

Web thinks the length of an applicant’s CV really depends on the role. “You would expect a very experienced person’s CV to be two to three pages, whereas someone less experienced should have maximum of two pages.”

Bell advises not to worry too much about the length of your CV and recommends that you “focus on the quality of your CV rather than quantity.”

When writing a CV, he said to “highlight your skills, personality, career aspirations and education level.”

7. Putting the wrong contact information

Making mistakes about your contact details is a common mistake that can be detrimental to your job search.

“You can often have an applicant who looks like a great fit on paper, but you can’t reach them to discuss the position,” explained Martin. “I think this is because most people tend to focus on the main content rather than the small details.”

8. Not tailoring your CV to the specific role

“Rather than a generic CV, which is vague and sent out to a large number of employers, we want to see applicants tailor their CV to the job description,” advised Bell.

Tailoring your CV “shows that the candidate has performed research into the company and role and is a much better way of selling yourself”, said Jones.

It’s important to thoroughly read the job descriptions and pick up on key words and phrases, Martin advised.

Drawing the employer’s attention to relevant skills you’ve picked up in roles – even if the roles aren’t directly related to the job you’re applying for – is a good way to demonstrate that you’re a good fit for the company and the role.

Jones added: “It’s a bonus if you’ve got experience in similar roles, but if you haven’t then tailoring your CV to highlight how you’ve gained useful experience in other positions that will be relevant for the role you’re applying for is the next best thing.”

9. Including references

Although this isn’t always a no-no, Bell advises against including references unless explicitly asked, as these are “usually requested further down the recruitment process.”

Martin explained that for her, references on a CV are really nothing more than a name. “For successful candidate’s reference details would be requested and the relevant request would be sent to the referees”, she said.

10. Not including hobbies and interests

While it’s important not to include too many hobbies and interests, they can be good to show your personal side and demonstrate some valuable transferrable skills.

Web said: “Hobbies and interests are a great way of giving an insight into who you are as a person and how you could possibly fit within the team.”

Think about the things you’re passionate about which will support your application, Bell advised. “These hobbies can show teamwork, leadership, time management and communication skills, as well as showing your dedication and commitment ”, he explained.

11. Using an inappropriate email address

Bell explained that one thing that massively puts employers off is using an inappropriate email address in an application. Putting an unsuitable email address as a contact detail can instantly derail your application, as it can make you seem extremely unprofessional and overshadow the rest of your application.

Bell explains: “We really have seen it all, from [email protected] to the less mild versions, which we can’t repeat”.

“Unfortunately, no matter how good your CV is, employers won’t continue you to the next stage of the recruitment process, it’s doubtful that they’d even read it,” he warned.

Career Success: 10 Tips on How to Be Successful at Work

Are you keeping these tips for success in mind at work?

Once you graduate from college and land a job, your next immediate concern is how to succeed in your career. Because the world has become so competitive, doing well in your job and moving forward with your career is more important now than ever. Career advancement and recognition are on every professional’s list of goals. But what sets the exceptional professionals apart? The answer is simply willingness and a strong desire to perform well. Once you have the willingness and the right mindset, you can begin climbing the ladder.

Here are the top 10 career success secrets on how to excel at work.

– Take initiative

– Be your own evaluator

– Be ready to learn

– Anticipate needs

– Communicate well

– Set goals to achieve

– Show, don’t tell

– Gain trust

– Create solutions

– Be compassionate

Take initiative

Today’s career requirements are highly developed and require much more than someone who won’t take risks. In today’s competitive career landscape, employers are looking for individuals who can bring fresh ideas to the table and take initiative, start new projects, pitch new solutions and create new opportunities for the business.

Be your own evaluator

One of the best ways to achieve career success is to keep assessing your performance. Don’t wait for your annual appraisal – do it yourself. An ideal way to do this would be to identify quantifiable goals and set a timeline for achieving them. Start with setting short-term goals when you’re new to a job. Create a detailed plan to achieve these goals. Break the tasks down into weekly or even daily tasks and fill out a small form at the end of the week to assess where you’re headed and whether you need to change your strategy. You can even show your own performance report to your managers at some point to show how you’ve progressed. This will show that you understand the importance of constant self-evaluation and improvement.

Be ready to learn

To excel in your career, you have to be willing to learn to become a leader and accept constructive feedback. No matter what university you graduated from or what grades you had, professional life will be very different from college. Be prepared to have a million questions pop up every day regarding what you’re doing. It might take you days to get a hang of your duties at your new job, so show management that you are coachable, paying attention and always willing to learn new things.

Anticipate needs

To succeed in your new job and achieve career success, you will have to be well aware of what your manager and team needs. Stay a step ahead of your boss by asking yourself, “If I were my boss, what would I want done next?” By making sure you get things efficiently done in time, and take the initiative to do them yourself, you will be showing a positive, go-getter attitude to higher management.

Communicate well

Communication is key to an employee’s and an organization’s success. If your manager has to ask you for a status report, you’re not doing everything you could be doing. The idea is to proactively communicate and let them know when a task is done, and move on to what needs to be done next.

Set goals to achieve

Remember you’re not being paid for ‘working hard’ or ‘staying busy.’ At the end of the day, what matters to your employer is how you’re contributing to fulfilling the company’s goals and mission, both short term and long term. Therefore, keep in mind that you’re being paid to deliver on clearly defined career goals that significantly impact the company’s performance and overall mission and vision. This goal-oriented mindset will help you achieve career success, no matter where you are on the corporate ladder.

Show, don’t tell

The value of action is far greater than that of mere words. Use this as a principle in your dealings at the office. Instead of bragging about all the things you can do, and then never actually delivering, you ought to show management what you are capable of.

Gain trust

This is one of the most important tips for success you need to ensure success when you start a new job. Think of it this way: the quicker you earn your boss’ trust, the sooner they’ll have less to worry about and hence more free time to focus their attention on other pressing matters. If your boss finds you trustworthy, they’ll delegate tasks to you. Make sure you meet your deadlines and keep your promises. It’s critical, especially early on in your relationship with your boss, that you fulfill every commitment you make, no matter how difficult it may seem.

Create solutions

Everyone can turn their problems into their manager’s problems. Be the solution provider, not the problem creator. Great employees solve problems. If you don’t have the authority to give the final verdict on a problem relevant to your work or department, then make sure you offer solutions to your boss and try to help as much as you can, wholeheartedly.

Be compassionate

Being a good employee requires compassion and understanding that your manager, and fellow employees are doing their best. Throwing a tantrum is not going to do anyone any good, neither will constantly complaining about how much work you’re doing. At the end of the day, everyone is doing their fair share of the work they’re getting paid for.

Many of these traits and behaviors that can help you excel in your career are also found in great leaders. By keeping these 10 career success secrets in mind, you can put yourself on the path to true greatness and achieve your ultimate career goals.