Today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.  —Dr. Seuss

Starting a new job can be nerve wrecking as you try to learn the ropes while trying to look good in the eyes of your colleagues and superiors. New hires can avoid social land mines and create a positive impression as early as the first day on the job by adhering to these  suggestions:

Remember the basics

Relax: you got the job so it must be that someone believes you belong there!  You’re not expected to know everything your first day.

Be On Time: Punctuality is a subtle sign of respect for your employer. If you want to stand out in a positive way, come early and stay late if necessary to finish your work and support your team.

Look Good: Start every day as if you’re going to your first interview!  Check your grooming. Your clothes should always be clean, your hair combed, teeth brushed. Identify the style of dress that’s appropriate for your office and select clothing that fits in with the dress code there.

Study Up: Collect back issues of the company’s newsletters, annual reports and press clippings. Check out your competitors’ literature, too, to get a better handle on the “big picture.”

Be Flexible: Be aware of your boss’s needs and try to fill in the gaps by offering to help where you see you could make a difference. Sometimes the best opportunities to shine fall in an area that’s outside your job description.  Don’t be afraid to jump in and help if you have the right skills to solve a problem (especially if it will lighten the load of your boss).

Ask, “How Can I Help?”: Become the person who is consistently interested in pitching in where no one else seems to offer his or her help. Look for growth, impact, opportunities.  Ask what your boss’s biggest problem is and how you can solve it?  (Sheryl Sandberg hired someone who asked her this very question.  Sheryl  answered her that the problem was with recruiting and now this person is the head of the people operations at Facebook).

More Advanced Advice: Get Noticed and Have an Impact!

F.Scott Fitzgerald’s advice:

The test of first-rate intelligences is the ability to hold two opposed views in your mind and still maintain the ability to function.

As Jon Lovett adeptly said in his commencement speech at the 2013 Pitzer College graduation, “Remember (college graduates) that you are sharp, educated, creative, conscientious and have a fresh perspective on how to solve problems.  But you are also naive and inexperienced and you should be aware that there is a lot you still don’t know.”

You should be solicitous of  more seasoned employees for advice. Keep in mind that being humble and confident is NOT mutually exclusive. Showing you’re eager to learn from others and carrying yourself with integrity will make you more likable at work.  Know there is a time to hold back in sharing your opinions and a time when you should speak up. This won’t always be easy to discern. You will need to practice thinking before you speak; Consider whether you’re just talking to talk or whether you have an idea that could really solve a problem.

There will be times where you will be inexperienced and untested but totally right. Don’t be afraid to express your opinion if you are authentic and clear about what you know, especially if it could solve a problem others have yet to solve. As long as you are honest about what you know and what you don’t know..and you’re not consistently so stubborn that you offend your co-workers, be unabashed about sharing your insights. Knowing when to share your ideas and when to hold back coupled with an earnest desire to learn from those who have more experience in your company will determine your success.

Show Appreciation for colleagues who show you the ropes.

Show Enthusiasm for Your Work: People are attracted to positive people. Avoid any negative comments about your previous job and focus on showing concern for pitching in and caring about making the team look good.

Listen 80 percent; Talk 20 percent: Resist offering your insights early on. You’ll get more respect by listening to what your co-workers have to teach you than by showing off what you know. Observing and listening to your colleagues will give you insight into the corporate culture. Use this information to adapt your style so you can fit in with the personalities in your group.

Emulate Key Players:  Find out who the decision-makers, influencers, stars are.  Notice the character traits and skills they have in common and try to emulate them. Tune into the biases of the influencers so you avoid making any faux pas.

Clarify Expectations:  Make sure you and your boss are on the same page. Find out:

  1. What priorities and issues need to be immediately addressed
  2. How often and in what format should you provide project updates
  3. How will your performance be evaluated

Knowing what’s expected of you gives you a baseline for the minimum requirement to fulfill your role. You can use this baseline to start with and then always be willing to take on new responsibilities/chores to exceed what’s expected of you.

Starting your new job is filled with opportunities to make a great impression.  Work full days. Notice people’s schedules and work habits so you’ll know the optimal times to connect with others. Stay humble and reduce your expectations for immediate approval. Seek opportunities to help fix problems. You’ll gain respect over time once you demonstrate your skills and contribute to the firm’s mission. Following these suggestions will help you get known as a desirable team player; In time you will enhance your personal brand and become a valuable member of your company who is appreciated.