Congratulations! You’ve landed a new job. But in this world of social distancing and work from home, you have to start virtually! How do you do that and still make a positive first impression?
Starting a new job is the perfect time to make a good impression. You want the employer to be confident that they made the right decision in hiring you for the position. The first hundred days in a new job can be one of the most critical times of your career. In a virtual work environment where you are not with your colleagues in the same office, there are additional challenges. Here are some recommendations based on feedback from our employers.
- Be Proactive – Show them you are engaged and committed before your first day of work. Reach out to your HR contact and hiring manager to let them know you are excited to be joining the company and ask how the virtual start will be handled. Will equipment be shipped to your home? What training is available for their unique applications? How do you get access to company email? What standing meetings should you put on the calendar? What “homework” can you be doing in advance to be well-prepared for day one?
- Manage Expectations – Try to schedule time on your first day with your manager and/or HR in advance. Discuss what the expectations are and how you will be measured for the first few months. Will you have weekly meetings with your manager? How will you meet other members of the team? How does your manager prefer to communicate? Starting out with shared expectations and open communications increases success.
- Show Respect – Honor the culture of the organization you have joined and respect those in authority as well as your peers. Learn what they do and how they do it before trying to change things. Listen to why things are the way they are. Earn their respect before you start presenting opportunities for improvement. Initially you should be spending more time listening than speaking.
- Open Communications – Identify your supervisor’s communications style and preferences and work to accommodate that style. Also identify the style and preferences for your colleagues. Discuss any concerns you have with your manager. Provide your supervisor with progress reports. Avoid surprises – such as a project not completed on deadline. Let them know in advance if there are issues. Keep your manager advised of any concerns that could impact results and deadlines. Set the pattern for open, frequent communications early. Ask for feedback regularly so you can fine tune your performance to ensure you are meeting or exceeding expectations.
- Ask Questions – Do not make assumptions. You are learning the company and the role. Ask questions to be sure you understand. Clarify requests to be sure you understand what you are being asked to do. Inquire how your work supports the department’s goals and the company’s objectives. It is not a sign of weakness to ask questions. Don’t waste time and energy doing the wrong things because you didn’t ask.
- Take Notes – Take notes so you don’t ask the same question again. Review your notes and apply what you have learned when faced with similar tasks or issues. Keep a record of your accomplishments – details of projects competed and impact on the organization, skills you developed or enhanced, knowledge you gained. They know you are new and you will need to ask questions as part of the learning process but they will quickly grow frustrated if you keep asking the same questions.
- Be Fully Engaged – If possible ask what you can do prior to your start date to learn more about the company, the team and the position. Do your homework researching the company, competitors, industry etc. Demonstrate your energy and enthusiasm. Remain positive. Show you are hungry for a challenge. Pay attention to both quality and timeliness of your work. Look for ways to exceed expectations.
- Identify Solutions not Problems – When you encounter problems, try to find possible solutions. Identify unmet business needs and ways you can help meet them. When identifying a problem, always offer at least one reasonable solution.
- Listen – Learn as much as you can by listening to others as they talk about the industry, the company and the department. Listen carefully to instructions for assignments and clarify as needed. Pay attention to deadlines, guidelines, and procedures. Always ask for feedback and think about how you can apply what you learned going forward. Seek continuous improvement.
- Earn the Challenging Assignments – Employers don’t give the most challenging project to the rookie in most cases. Demonstrate with your early assignments that they can count on you to deliver high quality and timely work and you will begin to earn more challenging assignments.
- Show initiative – Look for ways to exceed expectations. Identify unmet business needs and determine ways you can help. Offer to assist a busy colleague with a big project. Volunteer for a project that needs a home.
- Be Flexible and Adaptable – Accept all assignments cheerfully and give every assignment your best effort. Be open minded about new ideas, new procedures and different work. Anticipate change and embrace it.
- Curiosity – Ask open ended questions to demonstrate your interest. Offer ideas and suggestions for possible improvements. Seek opportunities to learn more about the company and the industry.
- Leverage Connection Opportunities – Many organizations are organizing virtual teams for a variety of work and social affinity groups. Stay focused on your priorities but as time allows engage in appropriate virtual events to meet colleagues and better understand the organization.
- Take Advantage of Online Training – Ask early what online training is available so you can take full advantage of the options. It is a great way to fill some initial down time and you may not have the luxury later when you are busier. Learn as much as you can while you have the opportunity to support your future success.
The manager hired you instead of all the other candidates because he/she believed you could make a difference on their team. Show them from day one that they made the right decision. Your flexibility in a virtual start will demonstrate your resiliency and prepare you well for future success.