First Day Impressions

Changing jobs can be a nerve-racking experience: new boss, new collegues, a totally different atmosphere. Adjusting to your new work environment can take some time. Here’s some tips to help you get settled quickly.

There’s a lot of career change going around. According to a recent Ipsos Reid study, one in five Canadians thinks they may lose their current job before year’s end. And perhaps just as stressful as trying to land a brand-new position is trying to adjust to a brand-new workplace. Here are some tips for fitting in fast.

  • Check your image. Show up well-groomed and relatively scent-free, tone down the jewellery and follow the company dress code. When setting up your work space, avoid distracting screen savers, and don’t clutter your desk with more than one or two family photos. Otherwise, “it may be perceived as taking away from the concentration you should give on your job,” says Mary Salvino, a career management expert in Vancouver.
  • Watch the clock. Make a good impression by arriving early for work. It’ll give you a chance to settle in, and even socialize a little bit with your colleagues without detracting from your work time. Likewise, at the end of the day, don’t tear out the door the moment the clock strikes five.
  • Mind your manners. Don’t come on strong with your co-workers in an effort to make fast friends. Wait for an invitation, whether it’s to a lunch or a chat. Stick to safe conversation topics: think sports and weather, not politics or religion.
  • Hold your tongue. Stay neutral in the face of any office gossip. Sharing your own opinions may come back to haunt you later. Never gripe about your new colleagues. And try to show enthusiasm for your job. “You’re going to be spending a lot of time there,” Salvino notes. “Find something to smile about.”

This article was originally published in the November 2009 issue of Reader’s Digest. Subscribe today and never miss an issue!