Day One on Your New Job

Dear, Anita,

I used lots of your advice for my résumé and job hunting in the past couple of months, and I landed a sweet position as an administrative assistant! I start in a few weeks, and I’m excited and nervous at the same time. This is only my second job. How can I make sure I start off on the right foot?

Start New JobDear, Restive Rookie,

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Since you were hired, you obviously influenced your soon-to-be boss to good effect. But now you’ll want to charm the rest of the team with whom you’ll be working. Here are eight tips to help you put your best foot forward.

  1. Arrive on time. Better yet, show up 10 minutes early. Do a dry run of your route to work the week before, preferably near your starting hour to gauge potential traffic snarls. Get plenty of rest the night before so you won’t sleep through your alarm (easier said than done when nerves and an overactive imagination can keep you awake!). Select your outfit the night before, which brings us to…
  2. Tie in MirrorDress fittingly. When you interviewed, hopefully you noticed what is considered appropriate work wear for your position. When in doubt, overdress rather than underdress for your first day.
  3. Take notes. I never trust those waiters who don’t write down my order, do you? You’ll be deluged with a lot of new information. Hopefully there is a manual outlining all of your job duties, but bring your own notepad to jot things down so they make sense to you.
  4. Don’t talk too much. Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Before offering suggestions about how to improve things, or relating TMI (too much information) about your personal life, get to know the culture, systems, and other employees first.
  5. Ask questions. Conversely, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. What isn’t a dumb question today may appear foolish a few months down the road. If you finish a task, don’t just sit there – ask your supervisor what’s next.
  6. ’Fess up if you mess up. Oops, you accidentally hung up on a client. All but the most hard-hearted of bosses will forgive newbie mistakes, as long as you don’t keep repeating them.
  7. Bring your lunch – but nothing stinky (save your leftover curry for dinner). You may or may not be asked out to lunch by your new supervisor or coworkers. Toss your brown bag if invited, but you won’t starve if it’s not a social company culture.
  8. Have a great attitude. Show enthusiasm (but not deranged cheerleader level excitement). Keep a positive outlook even if you feel overwhelmed. More often than not, the feeling will pass once you get more comfortable with your new duties and surroundings.

Readers: Have you ever made a first day faux pas?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Dear Santa, I Want This Job to Become Permanent

Dear, Anita,

I’ve been looking for work for a while, and have an opportunity for a temporary job during the holiday season. If I take it, is there any possibility I can stay on after the season ends?Santa List

Yes, Virginia,

Christmas comes but once a year, and so do some seasonal jobs, most notably in retail and shipping. To lengthen the traditional 12 days of Christmas employment into 365, follow this list and check it twice.

  • Show up on time or – gasp! – a few minutes early for each and every shift. It’s a sad fact, but punctuality is noticed by managers because of the severe lack of it these days.
  • Don’t be a clock-watcher. If you are in the middle of helping a customer or an assigned task when the end of your shift rolls around, finish up before clocking out.
  • Be flexible with your schedule. You’ll endear yourself to your supervisor if you volunteer for night and weekend shifts and offer to cover for the inevitable no-shows.
  • Learn from the full-timers. Get to know the permanent employees, and pick up tips from those in the trenches all year long. Maintain friendly relations with all coworkers.
  • Be self-motivated and willing to do anything asked of you. Managers appreciate employees who don’t need constant reminders and supervision to get the assigned tasks done.Red_Shirt_Worker_Small
  • Do your best. Some seasonal employees do just enough to get by. Doing even more than asked will make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. If you can keep a smile on your face during this hectic season, you’ll be seen as someone easy to work with year-round.
  • Make your wish known. Be sure your supervisor is aware that you are interested in staying on after the holidays – preferably after you’ve just gotten positive feedback or an “Atta Girl” from said supervisor.

Once you get hired on a permanent basis, January will become your most wonderful time of the year.

Readers: Have you turned a holiday job into a permanent position? Add your top tip to the list in the comments below!

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Looking for Work during the Holiday Season
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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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