Create a good track record at new job

Soon, spring graduates will hit the streets in search of their first "real" jobs. The transition from student to professional can be quite a culture shock. Here are some tips for the entry-level employee from the article "Avoid the New Job Blues" in the August 1986 Personnel Journal.

Carry a note card in your vest pocket on which to write names, assignments and other information you don't want to forget. You'll look professional and responsible.

Grant yourself at least three or four months during which you refuse to feel dumb. Give yourself time to learn about your job. Don't advertise your feelings if you feel stupid.

Be punctual. One of the quickest ways to enhance your reputation is to get to work 10 to 15 minutes early. If your car breaks down or your water pipes freeze, take the time to call beforehand and explain why you'll be late.

Read newspapers. If you're not used to doing this, it will take a few weeks to begin following events. This will help you understand the company-related events and the impact of government actions. Also, you'll be able to initiate and contribute to conversations with your coworkers.

Ask questions. Entry-level employees who constantly inquire about the company are usually seen as eager to learn. Schedule meetings and lunches to ask questions. Maintain confidentiality and you'll increase your chances of getting precise answers.

Take advantage of the lunch hour. One of the best investments you can make is eating lunch with co-workers. You'll get a crash course on who's who. Veterans can fill you in on the organization's history. Don't wait to be asked - you should initiate these events.

Do not try to improve the organization. For the first six months, it's best to keep your suggestions for improving the company's efficiency to yourself (unless you're asked).

Be honest. Earn the reputation for playing it straight. If you forget to return a phone call, for example, don't create a story about an imaginary meeting. If you're discovered, your reputation may be irreparably damaged.

Don't cruise on company time. The office is not a singles bar.

Don't become overly friendly with the boss. Be respectful and responsible but overdoing it will cause resentment and suspicion.

Be willing to work informal overtime. Extracurricular, after-hours events are great opportunities to meet people and acquire new views and information. Locate yourself near the center of the gathering to be in the best position to interact with people.

Don't be disturbed if you don't receive much positive reinforcement. Don't start thinking, "I must not be doing very well." You may find that as long as you are performing well, nobody complains. (This is especially true if you deal with the public.)

It's critical that you do good work. This is your professional beginning and it will strongly affect your chances for advancement.

Keep your mouth shut. One of the first things you'll learn is that you are exposed to a lot of confidential information. This offers a good opportunity for earning respect by keeping the information to yourself.

Develop teamwork skills. The work environment is a considerable departure from the classroom, where assignments and tests are done individually. Learn to make compromises and work cooperatively in order to achieve the best end result.

Learn from your predecessor. If he or she was promoted, it's a good idea to schedule several meetings with him or her to ask for advice about your new job.

If you're in a new city, let go of some old ties. If you make frequent weekend trips back to your hometown or college, you'll delay the transition. Attend community events and establish friendships with others that are making this transition.

Avoid warring factions. If one group tries to draft you into their group, beware. It's suicidal to take sides. Your fist-year goal is education. Learn all you can by talking to as many people as possible.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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