The first day at work: a survival guide – 4 tips on how to comfortably go to a new job
Stepping into a new job is always stressful, especially when you need to fit in as quickly as possible and get started on tasks. We tell you what to pay attention to not regret the choice and be “in its place.
Step one: reconnaissance
The first day of work is not the first contact with the employer. You should take the opportunity to talk before you go on the job to learn more about the company. Then you won’t feel like you’re starting from scratch on your first day, either. Try to talk through as much as you can at the interview. Ask for a description of the work environment, clarify the formal requirements.
Do not hesitate to ask about small things, from the dress code to attitudes towards smoking breaks. But, of course, not in the first place: if instead of tasks you ask about a cafe near the office, the future employer is unlikely to appreciate the arrangement of priorities.
When the offer is almost a done deal, it’s time to voice individual requests. For example, you live in the suburbs and are unlikely to make it to the office downtown by 8. And is it really necessary? Discuss whether you can be accommodated, and consider whether you’re willing to sacrifice your comfort if you refuse. This is especially true if you have several interesting proposals: it is important to discuss the nuances beforehand, so that you can make the right choice, avoid unpleasant surprises, do not waste your own and other people’s time. As a result, there will be fewer deceived expectations on both sides.
By getting more information at the start, you increase your chances of adapting easily. The company, for its part, will see the interest and have more peace of mind knowing that you won’t suddenly disappear.
Step Two: Get your bearings on the ground
The main tactic on the first day in a new place is to watch and listen. First, you need to delve into the job descriptions. In a small startup you can hardly expect them to be 100% informative, rather they will be streamlined formulations of professional standards, which do not reflect what you will have to work with in reality. Large companies have the opposite: instructions describe everything from “A” to “Z,” but even they do not provide answers to all questions.
Usually, newcomers are assigned mentors, be they supervisors, experienced colleagues, HR specialists, or representatives of a special adaptation department. They will get you up to speed, explain, and help with general questions. Here you should stick to the principle of “if you don’t understand, ask,” because no one can get into your head. But do not take too much time from your colleagues – the employer is still counting on your autonomy.
Next, pay attention to how the formal rules relate to the informal rules, study the internal schedule. Do they go for a smoke break? Do they eat lunch together or separately? Do they bring their own food or go to a cafe? Do they banter or are they completely focused on the task at hand? Is it “you” and by appointment with the boss, or do they talk freely?
In addition to everyday life, “ideological” nuances can also play a role. For example, in the team it is customary to have informal get-togethers after work – are you ready to give up a couple of hours of personal time to “fit in” with your colleagues? Or foul comments are in fashion, and for you it is nonsense – is it worth reconstructing, to pass for his, or to defend their principles and remain a black sheep? It happens that the company is dominated by the “cult of the ruble”: the desire to earn more at any cost. Or labor fanaticism reigns: overwork and all-out labor exploits in the name of the “common cause” are welcomed. How does this appeal to you? Evaluate whether it is critical to comply with the unspoken etiquette in general. Perhaps it is enough to cope with the duties.
Step Three: Don’t wait for “full immersion.”
Most likely, the first days, weeks, or even months at a new company will be spent in training mode. Formally, it may be reduced to studying the welcome-pack leaflet or an introductory lecture from a mentor. But in reality, it is unlikely that you will be immediately accepted as a fully functional unit: both manager and colleagues will take over some of the tasks for now and include time in their schedule to answer your questions and monitor how you are doing.
We set aside two weeks for training, so that the newcomer gets to know the product and our business model, and communicates with representatives of each division. The results are followed by a qualification exam. At the same time, we collect feedback: we ask what the employee likes, what difficulties he encounters, what he would do differently. At the same time mentor daily discusses with the mentee what he did right and what he did wrong. This scheme is followed by testers, support engineers, and salespeople. The developers have a little different: the main exam – testing, then the principle of “do not know how to talk, but how to do everything” applies – we wait for the results without long discussions.
If you are not specifically recruited, do not expect everyone to see your potential and talent right away. And when you get a simple task on probation, don’t be disappointed: no, they don’t doubt you, it’s just that there are such tasks, too, and it’s important for someone to do them. With us, development novices get a slice of small, strictly applied tasks that they need to solve in the best possible way in the allotted time. So do not underestimate small tasks: business takes them just as seriously as big projects.
It is clear that the “light” mode will not last forever. Sooner or later the demands to you will grow, especially if the company has invested time and effort in your training. It’s good if the workload increases gradually. If you feel that you have understood and would like to start more complicated tasks, and the management “buksut” – the initiative is welcome. The main thing is not to overdo it and do not try to take on more, just to make a good impression. The rule is the same: the better you get at the start, the fewer mistakes you make later.
Step Four: Be yourself
Do not try by all means to please everyone. As a rule, the company is interested in the candidate as much as he is interested in the new job (especially if we are talking about rare specialists). That is why it is possible to behave naturally.
You don’t want to start from scratch and adjust to new rules, crossing out all your previous experience. Experience is what makes a candidate, so even if you are used to solving tasks differently than the company is used to, the employer may appreciate a fresh perspective. The main thing is to know the measure and not to reinvent the wheel where it is not necessary. Perhaps your “innovative” ideas here are already past their sell-by date. Or maybe there are technological, legal or other constraints that make it impossible to “make things easier”.
No revelations or great reforms are expected from you, because the company was working successfully before you came, it employs qualified specialists, and professionals in their field are at the helm. So taking an overly critical look and looking for weaknesses in business processes from day one is a failing tactic. Instead of an audit, weigh whether the local way of doing things is right for you. And from this point of view, it’s often the daily office routine, not the workflow design, that’s more important.
It is better not to build air castles in advance, the real state of affairs in the company probably does not coincide with your ideas. The company may surprise you, even if it is not Google with a million “pluses” for employees. But if in fact you are rather uncomfortable, it is better to discuss it with your bosses, clarify the situation, and if no one is ready for compromise – say goodbye.
HR-people used to be genuinely surprised when seemingly motivated and seemingly suitable candidates turned around and left after a couple of days. Now the rhetoric is changing: the candidate has as much right to decide whether to stay in the ranks as companies have to decide whether to keep the candidate after the internship. When newcomers come in with this attitude, they are less stressed to get into the workplace.
First days at a new job: 5 common mistakes and tips on how to avoid them
Meet Olya, a product designer. One day she decided to change jobs and spent several months interviewing, trying to find a great team and show the employer the best version of herself.
The long search is behind her, her first day at her new job has arrived. Unfortunately, it’s too early for Ola to relax. In the first few weeks, she needs to form the right impression of herself with the team and get into the work processes. Otherwise adaptation will take several months.
In this article, on the example of Olya, we will analyze 5 mistakes, which should be avoided during the first 100 days in the company, in order to squeeze the maximum benefit out of the new opportunity.
Mistake 1. Getting into tasks only from the first working day
Ola was lucky enough to become a product designer at Salesforce. On her first call with her manager and team, she is introduced to the company.
Ole is shown three of the company’s main competitors and asked to study their UIs. One competitor looks familiar, but Ole has never seen the others. It looks like a task for a few days.
Due to the fact that Olya did not get to know the competitors beforehand and did not study the basic patterns of CRM systems, the task stretches for two weeks. At each step, Olya asks the most basic questions about the needs of sales managers, familiar design patterns and her tasks.
After a lengthy analysis, she tells the team that a few elements in the interface are too complex, and overloaded screens she wants to simplify. Ole patiently explains why this isn’t possible. Each of the screens has its own legal nuances. As a result, only a few weeks of working with CRM-systems Olga begins to understand the nuances and feel more confident.
Why is this a bad thing?
Olya did not study the product and competitors in advance, so it will take longer to immerse herself in the work. Everyone needs time to get up to speed. Olya cannot change that. But she can change the quality of her questions and the speed of understanding her tasks.
What can you do?
Immediately after signing an offer, Ole can write a message to the prospective manager and ask for a superficial induction. He probably won’t create an email for Ole or add her to Slack until the paperwork issues are closed. But he will give a rough description of the tasks.
Some information Olya will be able to find on her own. For example, look at the profiles of future colleagues on Linkedin, and read about their past experiences. If she studies similar products on the market, by the first day of work she will be confidently navigating the interfaces of her competitors.
This kind of homework will help get her into the context of the job right away. Olina’s questions will be in-depth and to the point. She won’t forget to learn about an important use case and won’t be surprised that the team isn’t working in Figma.
Don’t waste time between getting an offer and your first day on the job. Immerse yourself in the product and industry you have to work with. That way you’ll ask deeper questions and get more useful answers in your new job.
Our simulator of project management tests will help you practice making decisions on real examples of work situations.
Mistake 2. Not discussing job expectations with the manager
Olga came to Salesforce from a startup where everything was happening very quickly. You have an idea, run and run. Every day something had to be ready.
Olya thought that speed wouldn’t hurt at the new place either, and aggressively burst into all processes. Her manager Mathias, on the other hand, has always worked in big companies. He believes that good things take time, and that a good house with a bad foundation will get washed away by rain. Oli’s approach seems superficial to him.
Matthias would be happy if, in the first three months, Olya builds relationships with the team, understands the product well, and smoothly takes on important tasks.
Why is this a bad thing?
Olya has her own idea of what’s “fast” and what’s “important,” just like the rest of us. The experience puts a damper on her perception of the first few months in a new place. Her expectations of the job may not align with those of the manager and the team.
As a result, Olya will lose touch with the team and begin to perform tasks in isolation from the overall processes. A good manager will notice the discrepancy and immediately set goals for the probationary period, but an inexperienced one may let it slide.
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Unlike Oli, you decided to switch from a large company to a startup, where processes run many times faster. You work at a steady pace, but your manager asks you to work at a faster pace. What to do?
What can you do?
Ola needs to discuss her first few months with her manager and find out:
What should she learn in the next week?
Who should she turn to for help?
Are there urgent tasks that need to be sat down and done right away?
What should be ready by the end of the probationary period?
Better yet, Olya will take notes from the meeting and form the basis for a future performance review.
It’s not so much the pace of work that’s important for productivity, but understanding the manager’s expectations. Do not rely on your own ideas about what you should do during the probationary period.
Mistake 3. Spending all your time on routine tasks
No matter how efficient the company’s HR processes are, a new employee usually spends a lot of time dealing with operational issues.
Olya not only changed jobs, but also moved to a new country. The amount of headaches doubled. She has to open an account with the bank the company works with, sign an NDA and a stack of other papers. You also need to get insurance, spend dozens of hours looking for housing and negotiating the terms of the lease.
Some tasks drag along others: she needs to buy towels and some furniture for the new apartment, the bank asked to come back tomorrow, and some paper should come in the mail but hasn’t arrived yet.
As a result, Olya hardly spends any time with her new team. After the manager introduces her to her colleagues and creates a Slack account, Olya runs around town dealing with routine issues.
Why that’s a bad thing.
The first weeks on the team are the time to get to know the team and create a first impression of herself. If Olya spends a month and a half just doing routines, it will be harder for her to build a good relationship with the team. She has already created a first impression of herself.
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You came to a new job and yet you do not have time for anything because of the paperwork. Because of this you miss the second lunch with the team. What will you do?
What can you do?
1. If Olga asks for a window of one or two months from when she gets the offer to her first day at work, she can close half of her routine issues before she even starts. Some companies compensate new employees for the move.
2. Immediately after signing an offer ole better find out from the HR department whether you need to prepare additional documents: scans of passport, certificates or residence registration. If the company serves everyone in one bank, Olya can open an account there in advance.
3. When she moves, finding a place to live will take most of her time. This is why Ole could register on housing search sites and schedule apartment viewings a few days before she arrives in a new city.
Ole should read right away about the specifics of looking for housing where she is moving to. For example, you can rent an apartment in Britain only with a certain amount in the bank and a recommendation from past landlords. In the U.S., she may have to pay several months in advance. And in Germany, they will look at the status of the company with which Olga has a contract.
4. she could look at groups for emigrants in social networks to learn the pitfalls and avoid problems in the new place.
5. If Olga chooses a mobile operator and tariff in advance, on the first day she will be connected and have Internet.
6. If work starts and Oly still has a long list of things to do, she can allocate the second half of the day or evening to them. The team will know that she works in the morning and closes other tasks in the afternoon. This transparency helps to avoid a situation where no one knows if Olya is working or standing in line at the bank.
Allocate your time so that there is enough of it for both your colleagues and your work. If possible, close all routine matters before you start work. If this does not work, adjust your schedule with your manager at first.
Mistake 4. Stubbornly suggesting old approaches in a new job
It seems to Ole that the new team is doing everything wrong. In the last company sprints lasted two weeks, but in the new one they somehow take a month. Olya knows effective communication frameworks that will speed everyone up, but they’re not being implemented. The team also runs a lot of spreadsheets, although there are several products that can replace them.
From day one, Olya has been kindly sending colleagues “relevant” articles, quoting her favorite approaches from books, critiquing the complexity of product features, and remembering how something worked great in a previous job.
Why is this a bad thing?
The things that cut Ole’s view exist for a reason. The processes are influenced by legal nuances, successful experiments, or user wishes. Rather, the team knows the pitfalls of its ideas and is racking its brains to solve them.
People around here have spent a lot of effort experimenting, which has led to what is. And Olya is just getting into the context and could easily offend her colleagues with bold ideas and critical statements.
What can be done?
Fresh eyes are Ola’s superpower. Over time, even uncomfortable products and strange processes become “native,” and the team gets used to them. Ideally, the new employee will make the product better than it was before. That’s why Ole should not lose enthusiasm. You need to write down all your ideas to voice them a little later.
To begin with, it is better to study the background, look at the analytics of past experiments, and get a feel for the mood of the team. Then it will be easier for Ole to present her ideas and get the support of others.
In an article on how to manage a team, we talk about this technique and give 9 more tips on how a novice marketer can find common ground with the team.
First, figure out how the team works and why, and then offer your ideas and improvements.
If you’ve decided to change fields and found a dream job, but you lack the right lines on your resume to respond, we suggest reading our article on how to get an interview without experience in a new profession.
You come to a new company, you need to adapt to the new team. What do you need to do in your first two weeks on the team?