Finally Found That Job? Start It Off Right

Meet the Locals

Rather than wait for co-workers and managers to introduce themselves to you, schedule a quick 15 or 20 minute meeting with them as soon as possible to learn more about their role and how you can best work together. That's what Darin Velin did when he started his position as a communications specialist on a 15-person team at a software company in Redmond, Wash., two months ago.

"I really felt like part of the team after doing this because I had a personal connection with everyone and had some idea of working relationships once my work tasks started rolling in," Velin said.

While it likely won't require any prescheduled meetings, be sure to introduce yourself to tech support, security guards, receptionists and administrative assistants, too. You may need to call these folks when you're in a jam; better to get to know them ahead of time. Besides, receptionists and assistants can be a goldmine of insider information.

Don't Be So Quick to Befriend

Unless you're already perusing the online job listings for greener pastures, eat lunch with your coworkers at least twice a week. Cafeterias are the breeding ground of many an inside tip. (If no one invites you to lunch, toss out a "Mind if I join you?")

This, of course, isn't a license to cultivate one BFF you spend all your break time with, at least not until you have the lay of the political land.

"Because you're unfamiliar with people's allegiances, you need to avoid aligning yourself with a single colleague or group of colleagues," Levit advised. "In your first month, you should aim to know a little about a lot of people rather than the other way around."

Or, as Renate Raymond, deputy director of a museum in Bellevue, Wash., put it:

"Beware of the 'helpful' co-worker or employee that wants to give you the real scoop right away. They are trouble ... and are usually the office gossip or someone who wanted your job."

Be Resourceful, but Don't Be a Know-It-All

Your boss is not your babysitter. Never ask for help without first trying to solve the problem or answer the question yourself. The Internet is a beautiful thing; use it. Ditto for your corporate network.

"Collect questions before approaching a colleague," said Donnie Cameron, a senior programmer analyst in New Orleans who works remotely for a database clearinghouse for the book publishing industry. "Resist the temptation to interrupt a colleague with a single question."

Keep in mind that products and procedures at your new organization may be different than what you're used to. Some may be outmoded, cumbersome and quite frankly stink. Don't whine about this. Whiners are the first to get the axe during layoffs. Same goes for know-it-alls who always have a better way of doing things, especially during their first few weeks on the job.

Sure, your last employer may have had a better software system. But your current employer may not be able to afford one. Or your boss may already be in the process of trying to secure budget for an upgrade. Or he or she may be the one who designed said clunky software in the first place. Be careful not to put your foot in your mouth.

Remember: Enthusiasm and Manners

Even if you're in a stopgap job you only took because your unemployment ran out, a cheerful "Good morning!" and chewing with your mouth closed goes a long way. You may not be working in the Oval Office, but charming co-workers and customers from day one is still important.

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