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How to Make a Great First Impression at a New Job

In my last post I gave some advice that applies to everyone about how to be successful in your job.  This time I’d like to specifically focus on suggestions for how to make a great first impression in a new job, particularly for those of you who may be relatively new to the work force.

If you’ve been lucky enough to land a job in todays tough employment environment, it’s critical that your first impression be a good one.  Having hired hundreds of new employees over the years, here are the three important behaviors that will help you make that great first impression.

Listen More Than You Talk

In my opinion, during your initial weeks in a new position you should aim for listening at least 75% of the time you’re with your co-workers and, particularly, your boss.  Regardless of how much experience or expertise you may have, no one wants to hear about it during your first 60 days or so.  Take advantage of this time to listen as much as you can and confine most of your remarks to asking intelligent questions.  As you gain a reputation as a good listener, people will pay much closer attention when you finally eventually begin making relevant comments and sharing your expertise.

Learn the Two Most Important Phrases to Use

The two most important phrases to use while you’re new are: “I’d like to ask your opinion” and “I’d like to ask your advice”.  Nothing pleases people more than having someone new ask for either their opinion or their advice.  This not only shows respect for your more experienced peers, but also conveys that you don’t have a large ego.  That said, be careful which phrase you use and with whom.  Asking for advice conveys a presumption that you will take the advice, whereas asking for an opinion doesn’t.  Just be aware that if you ask for advice and then decide not to take it, some people will view this as breaking an unspoken covenant that is not present when you merely ask for an opinion.  A good general rule is to ask you co-workers for opinions and your boss for advice.  No one will criticize you for taking the advice of your boss, whereas advice from co-workers may or may not be well advised.

Refrain from Complaining

I’ll make this short and simple: during at least your first 30 days on the job, don’t complain about anything – and I mean anything!  If your chair is uncomfortable, live with it.  If your desk isn’t the right height, live with it.  If the temperature isn’t comfortable, live with it.  Once you’ve established yourself favorably, you can ask – not demand! – for a new chair or your desk to be lowered.  If you start out right away by complaining – about anything – you’ll quickly gain a negative reputation that will be hard to reverse.

Perception is a powerful thing and while making a good initial impression is never a sure thing, following these simple suggestions will at least put the odds in your favor.

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