7 ways to make a good impression your first week at a new job

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A good first impression is important to make during your first week at a new job, career experts say. Here's how to do

Congratulations, you’ve made a good enough impression on the hiring manager and scored the job, but don’t think your efforts in impressing stop there – you still have the whole first week to go.

According to Angela Payne, general manager for Monster Canada, that first week of a new job is crucial to setting the tone for the rest of your time at that job, so it’s a good idea to make the best out of that first week.

“First impressions add to long-term reputations and perceptions,” Payne says. “First impressions are generally an accurate representation of character and even work ethic. The first week helps set the stage for expectations for yourself and your colleagues working with you.”

So just how important are first impressions in the workplace?

According to one 2011 study by the University of Western Ontario, first impressions will stick with someone for life – even if new experiences happen that contradict that first impression. These new experiences, researchers say, only influence people’s reactions only within that certain context, but that first impression will always come out on top in the end.

“Imagine you have a new colleague at work and your impression of that person is not very favourable,” lead author Bertram Gawronski said in a statement. “A few weeks later, you meet your colleague at a party and you realize he is actually a very nice guy. Although you know your first impression was wrong, your gut response to your new colleague will be influenced by your new experience only in contexts that are similar to the party. However, your first impression will still dominate in all other contexts.”

But don’t only think you should be making a good first impression on the boss – your colleagues are just as important, Payne says.

“You should be mindful of your first impression with anyone you meet in the office,” she says. “Of course, your boss and colleagues are most important as you’ll be interacting and collaborating with them most often.”

To help you make a good first impression at your new job, Payne offers these tips.

Ask questions and write it down

Always have a notebook and pen with you, Payne says – that way you’re keeping organized notes and it shows your eagerness to learn.

“This shows your proactiveness when it comes to tasks as simple as getting to know your role in the office,” Payne says. “It’s also a great reference for you as you will be trying to process so much information in your first two to three weeks.”

Raise your hand

No, that doesn’t mean to raise your hand if you have a question. Instead, Payne is talking about jumping on any opportunity that comes up.

“If you’re offered opportunities during your first week, take full advantage and raise your hand for them,” she says. “Showing that you’re willing and eager to contribute and participate is a good sign for your employer.”

Maintain a positive attitude

Starting a new job can be stressful, but try to keep a positive attitude, Payne says.

“If you keep a positive attitude during the first week at a new job – when it can be stressful and new – it means you can carry that same attitude in challenging times in the office. Keeping a bright outlook on assignments and projects can be refreshing to your colleagues.”

Dress for the job

Don’t worry if you’re overdressed on your first day of work – it’s actually better than being underdressed.

“On your first day, it’s hard not to overdress for your role, especially if it’s one that is new and unfamiliar,” Payne says. “Ultimately, it’s important to look fresh and professional. Remember that your wardrobe and outfit choices can be looked at as an extension of your personality.”

Be yourself

It’s normal to feel nervous on the first day, but just try to be yourself, Payne says.

“At the end of the day, this should shine through the most,” she says. “If you decide to be yourself on day one, you’ll be able to open up and be more comfortable with your colleague as time passes.”

Don’t be late

And perhaps the biggest mistake people will make during their first week is showing up late to their new job, Payne says.

“During your first week in a new role, you want to show that you’re accountable, responsible and have strong time management skills,” she says. “This can be done without saying anything – just by coming in 10 minutes ahead of your start time. You can use this time to get more acquainted with colleagues and your role in the organization of the company.”

Make friends

Don’t wait for this to happen on its own, make it happen, Payne advises.

“Another thing people mistakenly do is wait for colleagues to come to them, regardless of your role or title, make it a priority to walk around the organization or department and introduce yourself,” she says. “Again, this sets the tone for your relationships going forward.”

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