10 Tips for Making a Good First Impression: Read This Before Starting Your New Job

Jul 27, 2015 - Joe Matar
You just got your dream job. After doing a happy dance and going out to celebrate, what can you do to make sure you get off on the right foot at your new gig? No one wants to get fired in their first few months at work (or ever). It's easy to forget that you’re the newbie, but it’s important to pay attention to company culture and ease your way into a new role. From what you say to how you act, people are paying attention. Check out these 10 tips to learn how to make a good first impression at your new job. (Click here to tweet these tips.)

1. Be receptive to guidance

According to Rosalinda Oropeza Randall, a workplace etiquette expert who wrote Don't Burp in the Boardroom, it's very important to make the right first impression, and a lot of this comes down to what you say. She told Business Insider that one of the most important things you can do at a new job is be open to new ways of doing things. She recommends being humble and refraining from phrases like, “In my last job....” It's great to draw on previous knowledge and experience you bring to the workplace, but don’t act like your old methods were better. Be open and receptive to learning new ways to work.

2. Volunteer

First, get comfortable with your position. Then, after checking with your boss to make sure you're on the right track, open yourself up to additional opportunities at the company. Volunteer to take on new tasks or join committees. Being open to these opportunities is a great way to meet other colleagues, demonstrate leadership and be a team player. Just be sure not to let volunteering for new tasks, roles, and committees interfere with the main tasks of your position. And be sure to check in with your boss from time to time to make sure you’re meeting all their expectations before assuming new roles.

3. Be happy with what you have

Now is not the time to ask for a raise, try to negotiate a different schedule, bring up telecommuting, or make any sort of demands. Hopefully, you negotiated a fair salary, schedule, and other benefits before you accepted the position. If you're starting to reconsider any of these things, wait until your first review and prove what a great job you can do before bringing up your desire for a raise, schedule changes, or any non-standard requests.

4. Stay out of gossip

No matter how tempting it is to wonder what's up with the quirky coworker, refrain from getting involved in office gossip. Don't ask who to avoid or inquire about anyone's marital (or extramarital) affairs. Get to know your coworkers, but keep the conversations based on work and small talk, especially when you're new. "Take time to meet and engage in small talk with each person in your department," Randall told Business Insider. "Judge for yourself."

5. Don't ask for upgrades

If your job provides you with a company phone, software, or even a computer setup that's not quite to your liking, don't complain about it. While the time might come down the line to discuss upgrading software or ordering a new chair, the first few days of your new job is not the time to ask. Unless you have specific ADA issues that require accommodation, work with what your new company provides in the beginning. After you prove to be a stellar, high-value employee, you can inquire about getting an upgrade on your company phone.

6. Speak well of your former job

Trash-talking your old employer won’t earn you a good impression at your new job. As tempting as it might be to tell horror stories about the time your old boss went on a rampage, how your incompetent coworker lost a huge contract, or you felt the company was treating workers shabbily, refrain from this kind of talk. It makes you look bad to speak ill of your former employer and colleagues, especially when you're new. Word gets around in many industries, and you don’t want people to know you’re saying unsavory things about them. It’s unprofessional, unkind, and could hamper future opportunities.

7. Be punctual

Pay close attention to company culture about punctuality, Salary.com warns.. Of course, you know that if your hiring manager says to show up at 9 a.m. on your first day, you don't want to be late. But what about the unspoken rules of punctuality and company culture? If the workday supposedly ends at 5 p.m., but everyone stays until at least 6 p.m., you need to pay attention. Especially early on, follow the lead of your colleagues. You don't want the reputation of skipping out early. Take a cautious approach in your first few weeks, and poke your head out of your workstation every now and then to see where your colleagues are.

8. Dress the part

You know not to show up at your new job in ripped jeans and a stained old t-shirt. But what should you wear? The best way to find out is to simply ask about dress code. Be sure to look put-together and take a little extra time when you're new to make sure you look the part. You don’t have to blow a fortune on a new wardrobe, but do make sure you're well-groomed, your clothes are neat and unwrinkled, and you're following your company's dress code.

9. Ask questions -- but not too many

It takes a while to figure out how things work in a new company, so be sure to ask questions. Asking a few questions about procedures is better than doing the job wrong and having to re-do it later. Pay attention and take notes on what people tell you, though, so you don't find yourself asking the same questions over and over. While being inquisitive and finding out the best way to do things is great, you don't want to be tagged as the needy new hire.

10. Use lunch to your advantage

When lunchtime comes around, don't just chow down a sandwich at your desk or spend your whole lunch break running errands. Especially when you're new, it makes sense to spend lunch breaks getting to know your coworkers. Grab a bite with different colleagues, or brown-bag it and head over to the park with other lunch-carrying coworkers to get to know them. Refer back to tip number four: just because you might leave the office with your coworkers doesn’t mean gossip etiquette goes out the window! Of course, pay attention to company culture. If it's crunch time and everyone is eating while they work, don't be the oblivious newbie wandering from cubicle to cubicle seeking out lunch dates. Pay attention to what your coworkers are doing and follow suit. What tips can you share for getting acclimated to a new work environment? Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.