January 20, 2009

How to Make a Good Impression on Your First Day of a New Job

If you have recently landed a new job — congratulations! Now it is time to turn your energy from making a good impression in your job interviews to making a good impression on the job.

How do you do that? Here are six suggestions that take a page from President Obama’s playbook on this most impressive day in American history.

#1. Be a great listener.
President Obama has been praised from across both sides of the aisle for his willingness to listen to input from all corners. You should do the same. Or, as my grandmother used to say, “Keep your mouth shut and your ears open.” Listen and observe, especially before you leap in with suggestions for change.

#2. Don’t be afraid of strong co-workers.
President Obama has put together a cabinet of strong leaders, including his former opponent Hillary Clinton. The best teams are made up of the best people — whether your team is leading the nation or leading your company’s strategy on paper consumption. So rather than feel intimidated by the impressive pedigree of your colleagues, be inspired by their experiences and learn as much as you can from them!

#3. Hit the ground running.
Not all of us have two and a half months of transition before we start our new jobs like American presidents do. But you should still take a few days or weeks to get your bearings before beginning a new job. Learn as much as you can about the job and what will be expected of you before your official first day, so that when you do walk through those doors, you can hit the ground running.

#4. Dress to impress.
Barack Obama does wear some nice suits, but this point is actually taken from Michelle Obama’s playbook. Her classic style is both inspiring and practical. And I love that she shops at JCrew, which means that her fashion sense — or at least an approximation of it — is accessible to most of us. Before you go investing in an all-new wardrobe, consider the office environment carefully. If funds are tight (and odds are, they will be, especially if you have been looking for a new job for a while), it is even more important that you make prudent decisions about how to allocate your wardrobe budget.

#5. Be gracious and grateful.
I just heard a reporter commenting that the Obamas really seem to be savoring the moments of today. Which is as it should be. This is a momentous occasion, not just for our nation but for the Obama family as well. When you begin a new job, especially after a protracted search, it is natural to breath of huge sigh of relief. It’s okay to savor those moments of victory in your job search.

In fact, you shouldn’t be afraid to show your gratefulness for having been given this new opportunity. Of course, be mindful of your tone — you’re going for gracious and humble, not desperate and pathetic!

#6. Respect old traditions.
From swearing his oath of office on President Lincoln’s bible to keeping the rug in the Oval Office that Laura Bush had designed for her husband, President Obama seems to have a healthy appreciation for history and traditions. Companies, like nations, hire (or elect) new people because they want new ideas. But that doesn’t mean they don’t still feel strongly about their old ways of doing things, too. Traditions tie people together into a shared sense of history — and even within your place of work, that sense of camaraderie is critical. As you begin to introduce your own unique way of getting things done, be mindful of the foundation that has been laid before you.

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