In the past, you may have had anywhere between three to six months to demonstrate your value to a new firm. Not anymore. According to a survey by The Creative Group, advertising and marketing executives interviewed said it takes just nine weeks, on average, to determine if a new employee is well suited for the role.
In that period, employers will not only evaluate your ability to do the job well but also take note of how you fit in with the firm’s culture and collaborate with your new colleagues. Following are seven common rookie mistakes and tips to help you avoid them:
Mistake #1: You don’t clarify expectations.
What are your immediate priorities? How often and in what form should you provide project updates? How will your work be evaluated? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, you’re setting yourself up for potential failure.
Within the first couple of days, meet with your manager to discuss your responsibilities and any tasks that require your instant attention. Also ask how your position fits into the big picture and how performance will be assessed. Request continual feedback to make sure you’re on the right track.
Mistake #2: You don’t watch how people work.
Your first days on the job can feel like being a visitor in a country where you don’t speak the language fluently. You can relate to others in some regard, but you largely feel out of place.
Spend some time studying the work habits of your colleagues: when they generally arrive at and leave the office, their preferred communication styles, and how they collaborate, for instance. Knowing the unspoken rules of your new environment will help you fit in fast.
Mistake #3: You don’t project enthusiasm.
Maybe your ideal job is with an advertising agency, but you accepted a corporate position. Or perhaps you took a position that’s a level below your last one.
Even if you had to make some compromises with your new role, approach the job with enthusiasm. Having an upbeat, can-do attitude is a great way to make a positive impression on your colleagues, and increase the likelihood that you’ll be successful in the position and considered for future promotions.
Mistake #4: You don’t look forward.
Avoid phrases such as, “At my old firm, we did it this way …” or discussions about how you enjoyed the catered lunches at a former company. Demonstrate a flexible attitude and embrace the customs of your current workplace.
Mistake #5: You don’t make friends.
When starting a new job, it pays to be social. Invite coworkers to coffee or lunch, and ask about their roles with the firm and tips for success with the company.
Although you want to get to know as many people as possible, pay particular attention to those you’ll rely on most heavily. Early in your tenure, be sure to reach out to project leaders and other key influencers, colleagues with whom you’ll frequently collaborate, and potential mentors who can help you learn the ropes.
Mistake #6: You don’t mind your meeting manners.
When attending your first meetings, pay attention to the prevailing customs. Do meetings typically include a formal agenda, or are they free-for-alls? Do attendees use laptops, PDAs or other mobile devices during the discussions? How vocal are participants expected to be? Once you are familiar with the basic protocol, prepare for future gatherings accordingly.
Mistake #7: You don’t build trust before suggesting change.
Wait until you’ve proved yourself and built rapport with coworkers before proposing a drastic change to a major client’s website or submitting your ideas for software upgrades that will bring the team “into the 21st century.” Your first priority is to earn people’s trust. Once that’s been established, colleagues will be more open to your suggestions.
Fitting in swiftly at a new job is crucial, especially in this environment where employers expect new hires to hit the ground running from day one. Taking note of the nuances and unwritten rules within the organization will help you acclimate quickly and make a positive impression from the start.
The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, interactive and marketing professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at www.creativegroup.com. Follow The Creative Group at facebook.com/thecreativegroup or twitter.com/creativegroup.
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