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Congratulations! You just landed a new job. Go out, grab a drink and celebrate with friends. Maybe even treat yourself to a massage, nice dinner or a short vacation. Taking some time for yourself in between jobs is critical for optimal mental and physical function. Because let’s be honest, looking for a new job is not easy and tends to be a full job in and of itself.
But once you’ve had a few days off, it’s time to get serious. Whether it took you two weeks, two months or two years to land this position, your first few days on the job will be the most memorable, so it’s essential you make a good impression.
Here are a few tips for a smooth transition to your new job:
1. Coffee & colleagues. One of the first things you should do is ask your new colleagues out for coffee. Some companies may offer a new-hire orientation, but in the event that they don’t, let your colleagues give you the low-down on office rules, other co-workers and the general atmosphere.
2. Thank you! Spending a few minutes to send out a handwritten thank you card to the people who introduced you to the new job goes a long way. You never know when you may need to use them as a reference again.
3. Dress the part. Before you even step foot in your new office, make sure you ask the person who hired you about the dress code. You don’t want to show up in a full suit when khakis and a collared shirt is more acceptable. And for the ladies, be mindful during the dog days of summer that some companies may find it inappropriate to wear those cute, short summer dresses, no matter how good you look in them.
4. Brown bag or take-out? It’s good to know early on if most people in the office eat at their desk, go to the company cafeteria or go out to lunch. If you aren’t bringing a lunch, ask about the best lunch spots close to the office. Also make sure to ask how much time is appropriate for lunch.
5. Test run. There’s nothing more embarrassing than showing up late on your first day. Find the best, most efficient route to get to the new office. Whether you will use public transportation, walk or drive, time how long it takes you to get there. Always be sure to allot extra time for traffic and rush hour congestion.
6. Go to happy hour. Even though you aren’t likely to meet your new BFF, your co-workers are watching to see if you show up – and show interest. Also, it’s a good opportunity to get to know your colleagues better in an unguarded environment.
7. Do not disturb. You’ll likely have your own ideas about how to improve the current process or work flow in the office, but try not to be overly critical during your first few weeks. Initially being too pushy or vocal may not be the best way to integrate yourself among your co-workers. After a month or two, it’s OK to suggest a few improvements to your boss and co-workers; that shows you want to help the team grow and improve.
8. Bring headphones. No one needs to hear your videos, pop-up ads or IM pings. Don’t abuse using headphones though, or your co-workers may think you’re anti-social. Use them when necessary and out of courtesy to those around you.
9. Break bread. Everyone likes food, so it’s always a nice gesture to bring in a box of chocolates, cookies or inexpensive finger food that everyone in the office can enjoy. It provides an opportunity to strike up a light conversation with your colleagues, and also shows you are generous and thoughtful of others.
10. Take notes. It’s likely your boss will throw a lot of things at you in the first few days and weeks: protocol, reading material, contacts, procedures. Don’t be the one who gets lost! Taking notes, even about the most mundane things, shows your boss you truly care about your new position and strive to be the best.
11. Make friends with your IT team. There’s probably nothing more valuable than getting to know your IT guy. You never know when your computer will freeze or your mobile phone won’t retrieve emails. If you’re nice, the IT guy could end up being your office savior. Take him out to lunch or bring him some sweets to get on his or her good side from the get-go.
12. Don’t give up. Yes, the first few weeks and even months will be hard. Be mindful of that going into your new job. No one expects you to understand everything about the new company, your position and who you interact with all at once.
Sometimes it can be an uphill climb to finally achieve that comfort level in your job, but stay positive! Being the new kid is never easy. Give yourself at least 90 days and then reevaluate your role with the company to see if it’s a good fit.
Jennifer DePaul is a tax reporter for The Bond Buyer. She is based in Washington, D.C. and hails from New Hampshire.