New Job? Here Are 3 Ways to Ruin Your Chances of Making a Good First Impression
If you want to be the best new coworker ever, here's what not to do.
Starting a new job naturally comes with a lot of nerves and pressure, whether it’s a first job out of school or a new position with a long-term employer. For starters, you’re concerned about the job itself: Will you actually excel at your new role? Will you learn the new programs and processes in time? But another layer of new-job jitters stems from worry over making a good impression on new coworkers and bosses.
Sure, we could tell you to smile and be nice, but this isn’t just about making friends and being liked; it’s about establishing a solid and genuine foundation for your new colleagues to respect you, trust you, collaborate with you, and enjoy both your presence and input. This, in turn, will help make your job easier, since everything’s so much simpler going forward if you manage to make a good first impression.
But how are you supposed to master the nuances of nailing that first impression, while simultaneously juggling a steep learning curve and unfamiliar processes? Interestingly, it helps to look at it from the other side—by learning what professionals think about new hires.
According to a LinkedIn data report, 63 percent of working professionals formulate an opinion of a new hire within their first two weeks—although 15 percent admit to passing judgment pretty much immediately. This means you have roughly two weeks (at most, let’s say) to show off your interpersonal skills and gradually make a case for yourself.
Overall, coworkers and managers are looking to see if their new team member is qualified and capable of doing the work, willing to learn, open to feedback, respectful, and trustworthy. So it makes sense that professionals' biggest pet peeves regarding new hires involve behaviors that don’t align with these values. With that in mind, below are the three biggest mistakes you can make within the first 90 days at a new job, based on LinkedIn insights.
Mistake #1: Acting like a know-it-all.
Not everyone can pull off the know-it-all persona as charmingly as Hermione Granger—so it’s best to leave it to her, especially when you’re the new guy. Coming into the fold of a team and immediately acting like you’re smarter and better than everyone who’s been there and knows the drill is not a good idea. Instead, be a good listener and open to feedback. At first, you’re there to learn and absorb, not to make anyone feel beneath you.
Mistake #2: Failing to ask questions and clarify expectations.
This mistake is so problematic because it leads to further, often avoidable mistakes. It’s scary to ask questions when you’re new, but it’s absolutely necessary. Remember, nobody can read your mind. But here's the catch: Don't ask obvious questions that make you look lazy or dependent. When you have a question, try as hard as you can to answer it yourself. If it’s a question you could easily type into Google, do that before bugging your boss or seatmate. But if it reaches the point where you’re wasting time or inviting potential errors by not asking for help, it’s time to swallow your pride and get some clarity. Dodge mishaps, slip-ups, blunders as a newbie by being an active listener, writing everything down, and asking thoughtful questions whenever you're stuck.
Mistake #3: Trying to impose ideas before you really learn the job.
You have a million great ideas—that’s why you were hired—but slow your roll. Trying to implement your way on day one (unless that’s specifically what you’ve been hired to do) could ruffle feathers and provoke a backlash, since you likely don't know the whole story yet. Instead, people appreciate when new hires take the time to learn about the current status of things: the team, the company, the industry, and so on. Read the room, be a sponge, and then find your moment to offer thoughtful suggestions.