The good news is that you’re not going to prison and there’s no need to fight the biggest baddest guy in the place to assert yourself and establish dominance. There’s no shanks in the middle of the night, worries of what will happen if you drop the soap in the showers or being petrified over sharing a cell with three huge psycho killers.
Now that I’ve put these thoughts into your head, you have to admit, it’s relatively easy starting a new job in a safe sanitized corporate environment. You could argue that corporations have their fair share of psychopaths—I wouldn’t disagree—but they’ll only hurt you with boring meetings, snide comments, back-stabbing (not literally), annoying jargon and lots of bureaucracy.
Here’s what you need to do for the first few days and weeks of a new job.
There will be paperwork—a lot of never-ending paperwork. Human resources personal will kidnap you and make you read and sign boring stuff. Basically you’re signing away all your rights and privileges while some young talent acquisition professional smiles pleasantly.
Of course you can ask what you’re executing your name to and what it all means, but don’t expect a satisfactory answer. You may get something like “Umm, that’s how it is. It’s always been this way. Do you have a problem? Should I get my boss? Would you like me to contact your manager?” Her answers are genuine and not accusatory, however you full well know that if you don’t adhere to protocol you’ll be “that guy” and instantly labeled as a trouble-maker. No one will ever eat lunch with you and employees will give you the death glare as you’ve become a non-entity.
You can be proactive by preparing some questions for human resources before you start, especially if you have special needs such as a medical condition that requires a certain doctor that’s on a specific insurance carrier. Make sure that the title, salary, benefits, stock options, 401-k plans are all consistent with what they’ve previously told you.
Think of starting a new job like the first day of school. Sorry, I should be precise, it’s not elementary school so don’t poop or pee in your pants and don’t cry for your mommy. It’s more like middle or high school. You want to start making friends. Try finding people to connect with. It will be stressful and anxiety inducing. Don’t worry if you feel that way, everyone else does too. Act friendly, nice, pleasant and suppress any weird habits you may have.
Have an elevator pitch handy. An elevator pitch is a quick 30-second or so explanation of who you are, what you did at your last company, what you will be doing at this job and what you’d like to offer to help others. It will make cold introductions easier as you won’t be stumbling over what to say.
Ask about the other person’s job and responsibilities. We’re all very self-centered about ourselves and are kind-of bored about what other people do at work. Pretend that you are really super interested in what Kevin from tax accounting really does all day long. Ask open-ended questions. This is the type of question that a person can’t answer with a simple yes or no. They’re forced to expand upon their answers. For example, “Kevin, what do you think of President Donald Trump’s tax plan? How does it affect our company?” I’m sure politics won’t offend anyone and it’s okay to talk about.
When you get a person talking, they’ll keep talking. I’ve learned from 20-plus years of recruiting that most families and friends could care less about what you do for a living. They think it’s dull. So when you actual listen intently to what someone is saying, they’re very appreciative. If you follow-up with more questions, feign interest, nod your head while they’re talking and use their names a few times in conversation, you will make a new best friend.
People love to talk about themselves, what they do at work and why it’s so incredibly important. They love it when someone actually listens to them wax philosophically about how the company would implode if it wasn’t for their Form7-qyZ. What is Form7-qyZ? Nobody at work knows or cares about it. Now when you bring it up, the person’s eyes will light up and you’re building your tribe of contacts at the new company.
If you’re like me and directionally challenged, map out your route to work the night or days before you start. I’ll even go on a trial run before an important event because I’m that retarded when it comes to directions. I’m not using this term in a politically incorrect manner. I really have something wrong with me that I can’t visualize how to get somewhere without the help of a map. I still don’t know how to get to places after 18 years of living in the same town. My dad, brother, and two uncles have the same deficit. It’s really weird.
Leave your house super early in the morning and arrive early to the office on the first day. You want to avoid being late on the first day as it’s not a good look. Before you enter the building walk around the block to familiarize yourself with the surroundings. Check out where the good restaurants and food places are and other interesting stores and locations.
When you get into the building be nice to everyone and chat them up. Hold the elevator door open. Make direct eye contact and smile politely to all those you meet. You never know who you may piss off if you hit the close door button on the elevator as a harried-looking person’s bolting for it with an overflowing coffee cup in her hand. She could easily be your CEO and when she finds out you’re the jerk who slammed the door on her and the coffee drenched and ruined her outfit, you’re toast.
Once you’re ushered up to the lobby of your floor be extra super-sweet to the receptionists. Complement their hair, nails, clothes or anything you could think of. You want them as allies and to tell everyone else “did you meet that wonderful young woman who just joined us? She’s so nice and polite, I think you’ll love her. She’s going to go far!” You can’t buy that type of public relations.
Feel out the social and work structure and hierarchy to get a vibe of the office and its politics. This may take a while. Especially, since casual attire is a thing, you may not easily recognize who’s the top dog and who’s the mail clerk. Just treat everyone equally nice and professional. It doesn’t matter if they’re the CEO or a junior kid on the team—be polite and respectful to all those you come in contact with.
Ensure that you get good nights of sleep during your first few weeks. Don’t go out partying or drinking. Avoid staying up late playing Fortnite with your buddies. Eat healthily, exercise and try to keep calm. The first month or two is like a marathon. Pace yourself and don’t burn out too soon.
Before you start, ask the human resource person or recruiter you dealt with about the dress code. This way you make sure you fit in. Also inquire about the culture and any nuances that you should be aware of. You want to come across a little above the job you have. This will start laying the groundwork for a promotion to a higher level position within the organization.
When you finally sit down with your boss, let her know how happy your are to be here. Restate all the reasons why you wanted this job and what you have to offer. Make it clear that you are a team player and want to help out any way you can.
Have you ever noticed that after you’ve made a big purchase you were initially excited and overjoyed. Then, after a short while, there are pangs of regret. Buyers remorse settles in. You start to question yourself if you made the correct choice. It’s the same for hiring managers. They tend to doubt their decision. Although you’ve already been hired, continually reinforce why she made the right decision. Also, don’t do anything to make her doubt her decision to hire you.
Similarly, as it relates to your colleagues, let them know that you are a team player. We’ve all seen interviews of professional athletes that say “I’m here to be part of the team. I just want to do my best and contribute. This is a great ballclub and I’m honored and humbled to just be here with them.” We all know that this is BS and they want the multi-million dollar contract, endorsements and to be the best on the team, but it’s not cool to actually say it.
You want to follow this model. Let your coworkers know that you are excited to work with them. You will help out anyway you can. You don’t have a big ego nor do you want to play corporate politics. You’re not going to spread rumours, gossip, or side-up to the manger and become the teacher’s pet. That’s what you say. It’s never too early to start plotting your scheme to rapidly climb the corporate ladder on the backs of your coworkers. After all, they’re a bunch of losers and you’re not. You’re destined for greatness, but need to deal with the peasants until you can move on up.
Don’t try too hard as people may view you as a kiss-ass or suck-up. You need the right amount of asskissing and sucking-up but not too much. If you’re not sure what to do, take notes and have a serious face on so people think you’re really busy, focused and smart. Turn up your energy level as people equate enthusiasm and positivity with the markings of a successful person.
Update your LinkedIn and Facebook profiles to make it official. It also pushes you to commit to the job now that everyone else know where you are now.