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Avoid These New Job Pitfalls

Starting a new job is exciting, but it’s also loaded with potential landmines. These tips will ensure you come across as professional from the very first day:

•    Be discreet. It’s good to disclose a little about yourself so your new co-workers and supervisor get to know you, but there’s a fine line between sharing and over-sharing. Divulging your love of chocolate is fine; telling them that you recently had to seek treatment for an eating disorder is too much too soon. Similarly, be cautious about disclosing too much about your previous jobs. It might surprise you to learn how many friends that horrible ex-boss you’re complaining about has in your new company.

•    Don’t hide in your cubicle. It’s tempting to hunker down and concentrate on learning your job rather than circulating and meeting new people. But the sooner you begin working your way through the organizational chart, the sooner you cultivate new contacts who can keep you informed about upcoming projects and important news.

•    Take information with a grain of salt. When you’re new, you have no way of knowing whether the information (otherwise known as “gossip”) you’re receiving about others is valid. Listen respectfully to what people say, but be sure to form your own opinion before you believe that John is a backstabber and Sue pilfers the petty cash.

•    Use downtime to learn. If you find yourself with brief periods of idleness during training, hop on the company web site and review orientation materials to soak up details. It’ll impress your boss when you begin a conversation with, “Since XYZ is our company’s official charity, I was thinking…”

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  1. Josephine Hanan

    I really like this article because it gets new employees to tackle their new job with a proactive strategy, as opposed to just following their default habits. Another tip I would add to the list is having the new employee make sure to be asking other people out to lunch, which is where you can always find out more about “what’s really going on” than during any formal meeting (but as you pointed out, it should be taken with a grain of salt). I also think that it is important to be doing lunches as early as possible because although we’re not in high school anymore, the workplace is still filled of cliques and the earlier you break into them the better; otherwise, you might set the pattern of eating alone and/or not being asked out to lunch.

  2. Tracey

    Josephine – I never have thought about asking coworkers to lunch when I’m the new person. It sounds good, but you never really know the office dynamics. What if you go to lunch with someone your boss really doesn’t get along with? Does that reflect poorly on you?

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