First Impressions Matter In Your New Career
Written by: Greg Weiss
Starting a new job can be daunting. There’s a lot to learn, no matter what kind of role you’re taking on and, depending on the organisation’s employee onboarding processes, it can feel a little like you’ve been thrown in the deep end.
In my role as a career coach, I work with those that are starting new jobs, those who have utilised outplacement services and transitioned to a new role and many others who are experiencing the anxieties that a new role brings. Those first few days and weeks can feel daunting and the main focus is often getting through each day, taking on all the information you need to know and getting your head around responsibilities. But when it comes to career advice, some timeless words of wisdom lie in the phrase ‘first impressions matter’. It’s just as important to be actively working on making a good impression as it is to navigate through each day.
Why does your first impression matter when onboarding into a new role?
It all boils down to setting the right tone for your time with this organisation. You may be in this role for a long time, or for one reason or another you could be finding yourself in a career transition again soon. Either way, the tone you set through your first impression is important for shaping how the people you work with think about you.
Of course, it’s true that first impressions aren’t everything – many of us make quick judgements about those around us that we then need to reassess over time. However, first impressions do matter. It’s called ‘thin-slicing’. It’s a term coined by Nalini Ambady and Robert Rosenthal and refers to the way people make very quick inferences about the state, characteristics or details of an individual or situation with minimal amounts of information.
We know that first impressions can be wrong, but studies have found that judgements based on thin-slicing can be just as accurate – and sometimes even more accurate – than judgements that are made based on more information. The impression you make right off the bat speaks volumes.
What can you do in the first week of your role to make a positive impression?
- Get enough rest – being well-rested sets you up to be calm and positive during the day. Don’t let anxieties stop you from getting enough sleep each night.
- Give yourself time – leave extra time on your commute so you get to work without feeling flustered by delays or traffic. And remember to give yourself time to learn the systems and processes of your new organisation – be realistic with your pace of learning and your ability to get work done while you’re still learning.
- Listen carefully – with new names to learn and processes to wrap your head around, listening carefully is the best way to figure out the lay of the land.
- Ask questions – if you have a question, ask it. Abandoning your questions for fear of looking silly will only leave you struggling in the deep end. Those working alongside you will appreciate you asking for help early on, rather than later down the line.
7 things to look out for when you start a new role
First impressions are not restricted to your first day or week – as you begin to work with more people in your new organisation, they will continue to make judgements based on thin-slicing as you approach different tasks and have different conversations. Here are the things you should be looking out for as you settle into your role:
Shared values – take some time to understand how your values overlap with your employee’s values and uncover the behaviours that underpin and reflect these values. You will be able to better emulate these behaviours once you understand them fully.
Structure – every organisation has formal and informal structures. Your priority should be understanding your reporting lines and the go-to people for information and influence.
Style – your personal brand matters. The tips above will help you to put your best foot forward so that others gain an overwhelmingly positive impression of you.
Skills – apply your strengths and minimise your weaknesses for career success in this new role.
Strategy – set up 1 to 2 winning projects to energise those around you and demonstrate your skills as you build trust, credibility and value.
Staff – learn how to best contribute to the team and understand the context of your role so you can be useful to everyone.
Systems – understand how things work by listening, observing and asking questions. When you understand the lay of the land, you’re better able to contribute effectively.
Each of these 7 things is one key to opening the door as a trusted and valued employee as you seek to make your first impression in your new role. However, this is great career advice for all workers everywhere. Keeping these things in mind means you stay at the top of your game, maintaining that positive first impression and becoming a star employee.
This article originally appeared in Career365 – First Impressions Matter In Your New Career.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg authored 3 practical Career Books, and 1 Book helping Visionary leaders scale their businesses. He is one of Australia’s most experienced HR consultants and leading career coaches. He is the founder and owner of Soulidify and Career365. As an entrepreneur/business owner, Greg has experienced first-hand the joys and frustrations of starting and growing one’s own business.