I Have a Job, Now What?
Imagine you went on a job interview and you know you aced it. You get that phone call that you are being offered the position. After thinking about it carefully, you say yes. You will begin in 2 weeks at your brand new job. How do you feel? Are you excited, nervous, happy, anxious, or the entire above all jumbled together? All of which is perfectly normal. Today we are going to discuss how to be prepared before you even begin a new job, what to do once you are on the job, and how to keep the job once you are no longer the new kid on the block. My hope is that after this presentation, you will feel prepared for the workforce so that you can succeed.
Let’s go back to our scenario. You have 2 weeks before your new job. You probably have many questions, one of them is probably, and what am I going to wear? You may already be wardrobe ready, but if you are not, let’s discuss what you can do. First of all don’t feel like you need to go out and buy an expensive new wardrobe. You can start off with a few basic pieces and go from there. These you can buy anywhere from Good Will to Target, Ross, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, or even Wal-Mart. Here are a few basic pieces that you will always be in fashion.
- White button down shirt
- Black Trousers
- Khaki Trousers
- Black or Gray Suit
- Cardigan- One in a neutral color and one in a bright color for spring
- Pearl Earrings for ladies will go with anything
- Nude Flat Shoes
- Pencil Skirt
- Pantyhose in all neutral colors- Gray, Brown, Black, Nude, and Navy
What else do you need to know about your first day? The basics- where to go when I get to work, where can I park my car, what time do I need to be at work, and what should I bring? Be sure to know all of this information ahead of time so you are well prepared on your first day. You may also want to ask your supervisor what tasks you will be working on once you arrive so you will feel up to speed.
On your first day, you will more than likely be busy meeting new people, getting settled into to your new workspace and taking lots of notes. The first day and probably first week will be a blur. You will get your technology set up, meet with human resources, spell, write, and sign your name a lot for business cards, name plates, and paperwork. Up until this point, you have been making efforts to convince the organization to hire you and now, you can focus on what the company will do for you. When you meet with human resources, they will explain your salary, sick and vacation days, the sexual harassment policy, benefits and insurance, and retirement plans. Be sure that you understand what you’re told and ask questions when you don’t. You will need to have your driver’s license and social security card when you visit with human resources. You will also have to make decisions about insurance policies, these are individual decisions that you will have to make based on your needs.
After taking care of paperwork, it will be time to work. Being successful at work will happen if you will utilize your soft skills. It has been said that your hard or technical skills will help you get a job, but it is your soft skills that help you keep your job. Soft skills can be broken down into interpersonal such as communication and teamwork, intrapersonal such as problem solving, taking initiative, and integrity, and organizational like time management. Many employers feel that millennial employees lack soft skills, you want to not be a statistic. Use your soft skills every day and you will flourish.
As you are working and doing all you can to keep your job, you need to notice and pick up on what the company culture is. The areas of company culture include:
- wardrobe- Are jeans on Friday acceptable?
- Adherence to time- do people come to work right on time or earlier, what about the time they leave? When you go in meetings- does the group get right down to business or do they make small talk for a minute or two? Are your hours flexible? If you work late for a company event, can you get compensated for it?
Communication styles- does your boss prefer email or face to face meetings? Do you just pop in if you have a question or do you schedule a meeting? If you receive an email, are you expected to respond right away or by the end of the day?
These are things that you need to begin noticing and observing from day one. When you have questions ask! The key to being able to adapt to company culture is to know your audience. In her book, The Hard Truth about Soft Skills, Peggy Klaus says to pay attention to people’s communication styles and use them. Peggy Klaus also discusses how office politics come into play. She says to learn the unspoken rules of your workplace. This might mean that if you are extra nice to Sally, she brings you a doughnut and coffee on Fridays. If you want Charlie to look at your project, make sure that Linus approves it or it won’t happen. Avoid Lucy at all costs because she is always in a bad mood. When you need a minute to compose yourself go see Schroder, his music will calm your nerves. These may seem like minor things, but they can make a major difference.
As you are observing the company culture, also observe your coworkers. How friendly are they with one another? Do they go out to lunch or get together after work? Is it strictly a professional working relationship? There is nothing wrong with being friendly or friends with your co -workers, be sure to always be professional. Try and stay away from work gossip- this can backfire on you. Never send emails that can be questioned later or even things in text. Another surprising factor that can hurt you is being too nice. Yes too nice, you know what I mean those people that are too smiley too early in the morning. Being too nice can breed mistrust and can make you suspect. Likeability is necessary in the workplace and the need to be liked is universal. Peggy Klaus says “You Don’t need to be Everyone’s best friend that is what Dogs are for” (The Hard Truth About Soft Skills pp. 80). You need to be able to be assertive and speak up for yourself and others when necessary. This is why it’s important to not be too nice. We as women can get caught up in wanting to be seen as being nice and it’s expected of us in the workforce. We aren’t supposed to speak up or be assertive, but it is necessary to get our job done and accomplish our goals.
Peggy Klaus suggests that you find a mentor to help you along the way. Some companies assign new people mentors to help them. Here’s what to look for to find a mentor:
- A person who has status in the company and has been there a while,
- Be experienced with the department that you work in, proven to be an advocate for others or you,
- Be someone others hold in high regard and have nice things to say about them, and have given you a reason to trust them. (The Hard Truth About Soft Skills,pp.97).
Adapting to the company culture will not happen overnight, it will take time. Being the new employee, you will need to prove yourself. One way to do this is to take on new challenges, step up, and go outside of your comfort zone. This can be done by doing small things like offering to work on a weekend when a project needs to get done, clean up an essential working area, offer to help organize a big project. It is also important that you listen. There is a fine line between helping and appearing to be a know it all. Yes, you may a billion great ideas, but take time to get acclimated at work before you go in on overcharge trying to make changes. Speaking from experience, it will not go over well. This doesn’t mean you should not show initiative or have ideas, but listen first.
Think of your job as a progression, not an ending. You will continue to learn and grow every day and before you know it, a full month will have gone by. You be well adjusted after the first 6 months and feel good about your job. This doesn’t mean that there are not going to be challenges, but you should have a good handle on the organization and your specific job.
This means that you need to be setting goals and thinking ahead. One of my favorite career quotes is “Think like a Lady Act Like a Boss”. Always conduct yourself properly no matter what happens, but always be thinking, learning, and progressing. Always have a goal and a vision in mind. Be sure to always see the big picture and remember why you are at your job in the first place. Dream big, but be able to make your dreams a reality by setting SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound. Become a lifelong learner, this will help lead you to new opportunities and challenges
Having a job that you enjoy and love is one of the greatest things in the world. No job will be perfect, but when the good outweighs the bad, you have it made. As long as you do your part, you will be able to be an accomplished professional and make a difference in the world.
For more on The Hard Truth About Soft Skills visit www.peggyklaus.com