First impressions: Making sure you make a good one

You know how it is. Early on in life you learn its importance. As you learn about job-hunting, its value again gains prominence. And now, as you are about to start at a new job, it reaches a critical state.

What is it?

It is the impact of first impressions. In categorising people, we all take shortcuts, and first impressions about people often turn into long-term perceptions and reputations — which are good for people who make positive first impressions (the halo effect), but bad for people who make negative first impressions. And in the workplace, during those first few early days where you are meeting everyone — and everyone is meeting you — first impressions about you and your future potential can make a major impact on your future success with the organisation. How can you improve your chances for making a great first impression when you’re starting a new job? Here are some tips.

Have a positive attitude

Nothing works better than having and expressing a positive attitude. Let your enthusiasm for being part of the team and organisation show to everyone you interact with. And always leave non-work problems at home.

Dress professionally

You should never underestimate the importance of dressing professionally in your new job. And in the beginning, even if your department has casual days, you should dress professionally because you never know when you’ll be called out to meet a top manager or key client.

Learn coworkers’ names quickly

No one expects you to have everyone’s name down pat by the end of the first day or week, but if you are bad with names, now is the time to research some of the neat memory-aid tricks you can try to use. Certainly, as soon as possible, learn the names of every member of

your team. And if you are in a situation in which you forget a person’s name, the best solution

is simply to apologise and ask the person’s name again.

Ask auestions/Ask for help

No one expects you to solve all the organisation’s problems on your first days on the job — nor that you know everything — so, relax a bit, and always ask questions or ask for help when you need it. Remember that it’s better to ask before you’ve completed the task the wrong way and wasted all that time.

Take notes

Unless you have a photographic memory — and few of us do — consider taking notes on all the various systems and rules of the organisation. And no matter how boring they may sound,

attend all orientation sessions. Nothing gets old faster than someone repeatedly asking how something works; such behaviour shows a lack of attention to detail.

Set good attendance record

It’s important to show up to work every day and establish a good attendance record. Yes, there will be emergencies, and yes, you may get sick, but as best you can, try to make it to work every day during those first weeks/months on the job.

Avoid office politics, gossip

As with any social organisation, the workplace is full of rumours and gossip. Your mission is to keep your nose clean of all of it — and be sure not to associate too often with the office gossips or risk having your image associated with them. “DO NOT get involved in any trash talking around the office,” says a 2002 English education grad. “Don’t — repeat — don’t solicit gossip.”

Final thoughts

Being the newest member of the organisation — the rookie — is both challenging and exciting.

You’ll be faced with both difficulties and opportunities, and your goal should be to make the

most of all situations. These tips should help provide you with some insights and direction as you approach that new job, but don’t worry if you don’t make a perfect first impression in those early days on the job — few of us ever do. Remember to relax, keep your mind open, get to know your team members, and do your work — and you should go far in making a lasting impression and reputation.