5 Tips for Starting a New Job

Starting a new job is of those things that instantly take me back to being the “new kid.” Just like the first day at a new school, you’re not entirely sure where the closest bathrooms are, what other people do for lunch, or what the reception environment is going to be like. When I started at a Fortune 500 just after a round of 100+ layoffs, the environment was chilly at best; meanwhile, in my current role, the goodwill literally bounced off the walls (in the form of welcome bouncy balls).

Regardless of the reception you receive when starting a new job, the guidelines for both fitting in and getting noticed are similar to when you were young. You want to please your boss like you would your teacher but not stick out to your coworkers/fellow classmates as someone who’s going to negatively affect the status quo. It’s a tough tightrope to walk at first, but soon enough, it’ll feel like home.

To get started on the right foot, here’s a checklist of things that I like to do when starting a new job. I’m also a huge fan of the website good.co, which can clue you in on the climate of your new workplace, the personalities you can expect, etc.

1. Make a Positive Impression Via Timeliness

I’m not saying that, as the new guy, you should adopt a ‘first to show, last to go’ mentality quite yet, but by adopting a schedule when you arrive with most other folks (and maybe a smidge early), you’re showing that you’re invested and excited. Be prompt and present during meetings and other public interactions; and don’t make excuses when you’re late...just don’t be late.

2. Introduce Yourself. Everywhere.

Taking initiative to meet people when you start a new job only has positive effects. Say hi in the elevator, the cafeteria line, maybe even in the bathroom (in like, a ladies-fixing-hair in the mirror kind of a way...not across stalls). You’ll get your name out there and it helps you connect with people with whom you might not work with directly and wouldn’t meet otherwise.

3. Observe and Ask Questions

In other words, figure out where the coffee pot is and the etiquette around lunch.  If there’s a communal pot, there is ALWAYS a set of unwritten rules around who starts it, who washes it, and who buys it.  Same thing with pretty much anything in a communal space.  Watch what other people are doing at a new job, and ask questions when you don’t know. It’s easier and more appreciated when you ask in your first week versus working there for three months and still not knowing how to send interoffice mail.

4. Get Organized and Stay Organized.

Inbox organization skills, check. SharePoint workflow, check. Whatever your method is for staying on top of things, start employing from the start at your new job. Your ability to get things quickly will please not only your boss, but also the coworkers who still might be unsure if you’re really here to help them out, or upset their bubble.

5. Go above and Beyond

Show your passion, and it will return back to you. I don’t mean in a karmic-cosmic way; just that if you’re able to immediately demonstrate the skills and abilities that got you into the role, you’ll be immediately showing a kind of personal ROI that others will appreciate. If they show their appreciation via email, keep those for when you feel enthusiasm flagging. I have a hidden folder called ‘Smile File’ just for times like these (I know, I know...).


New jobs are just as exciting as they can be nerve-wracking.  By getting a grasp on some of those intangibles outlined in the five tips above, starting your next new job will be much breezier than the first day of high school.

What tips would you add to the list of things to know at the start of a new job?