Our passage through life is more diverse in modern times.  The average American switches jobs about every three to five years, and gone are the days of working with the same company for forty years.  A lot of experts have their theory on why we switch so often; I think we simply have more options at our disposal.

Regardless, whether we get bored too easily or are never satisfied, we make a lot of career changes as a society.  One thing I’ve noticed with new hires in my industry is people’s inability to adhere to a new set of standards and rules.  Many assume things are similar between businesses within the same field.  It’s absolutely false.  Every single business is run differently, and we should all be prepared for that when we switch jobs.

There are a lot of ways to act when you first start a new job.  I usually don’t talk for a couple of weeks except for a few questions I might ask.  Some folks won’t stop talking.  The key is to let your actions do the talking.  A good employer will notice.  I have hired and fired a good number of people, and the common denominator for those making the cut is work ethic.  Here are some tips on how to approach a new job.

  1. Consider the employer. Training new employees is a burden.  It takes time, resources, and money to properly train an employee to be successful within the constructs of a new company.  Regardless of how much experience you may have, please understand that every company has their own structured foundation for engaging and completing tasks.  Don’t waste an employer’s time.  Before accepting a job position, make sure you are on the same page with the employer concerning position responsibilities, wage and salary, and schedule.  Be respectful of their time if you wish them to be respectful of yours.
  2. Be humble.  No matter how amazing you look on paper, you still must work through the probationary period.  Yes, your employer probably checked with several of your references that said you are phenomenal, but the proof is in the pudding.  Until you have proven your talent through action and your ability to work well with others, don’t expect your new employer to treat you like an all-star immediately.  Be patient.  Excellent work ethic is easy to recognize.
  3. Be coachable.  Shut up and listen.  Don’t dismiss anything during your training period, even if you’ve heard it a thousand times before.  Who knows?  You might learn something new.  Truly listen to how your employer wants things done, and execute accordingly.  There will be plenty of time to show your diverse skill set.  Take in as much information as possible, ask questions when necessary, and research and study in your spare time.
  4. Be professional. Make sure you are on top of your personal hygiene.  Nothing turns employers off more than a smelly employee who is poorly groomed.  Be punctual.  A tardy arrival to work in your first week could possibly lead to termination, and rightly so.  Learn the dress code, and strictly adhere to it.  Address all employees, regardless of position, with a well mannered respect.  Your first month with a company is not the time to joke around and hang with the cool kids.  You can do that after you have earned the right to do so.  Never gossip about other employees.  You shouldn’t do this regardless of how long you have worked somewhere.
  5. Be courteous.  When you are a new employee, you are under a microscope.  Your new employer honestly has no idea if you are going to mesh well with the company and its employees.  Be courteous to all and allow politeness and efficiency to rule the day.  Don’t talk too much.  Don’t spend time on your cellular device; it shows disinterest, disrespect, and entitlement.  Don’t make suggestions, especially to a veteran employee or manager.  Learn the ropes, and when you’ve earned your place make suggestions when appropriate.

The transitional period between jobs and careers can be stressful.  No one likes to train and no one likes to be trained.  Nonetheless, the process must take its course for us to be successful.  While entrenched in this period, make the best of it by working hard and talking little.  Your employer will appreciate your approach and it may even help with a quickened advancement.  Work hard.  Do your best; whether you like your job or not.  You never know who might be watching.

  • Vinca

    “Yes, your employer probably checked with several of your references” —Didn’t realize references were still a thing!

  • Ronald Cintron

    Great article. Thank you.

  • Larry Bud

    I don’t get the suggestions to, essentially, “sit down and shut up”. I expect new employees to question the status quo, make suggestions, and offer comparisons to how their previous employers did things. It’s the only time to get a fresh perspective, before they settle into the rut of “that’s how we do things here” that the existing staff is already in. It shows interest and engagement, characteristics that are getting more and more rare in the millennial generation.

    • Phil Alcoceli

      If you expect every new employee to be a whirlwind of new ideas (a Tasmanian Devil of creativity- as in Bugs Bunny cartoons) and being able to talk even through his/her elbows, you need to say so in your hiring information, ads and interviews. You are a great exemption to the rules shown above and that’s fine and dandy. Variety is the spice of life (a very useful cliche so I wouldn’t be hired by you). An approach like yours is very useful and very necessary, especially for some types of businesses, industries, etc. but far from ideal for the majority of employers.

      You say (copy and paste); “I expect new employees to question the status quo [is that what you have?], make suggestions, and offer comparisons to how their previous employers did things”, and very quickly. Holy Saint Anacleta of the Holy Tambourines, Batman (my creativity here- I actually love the saints)!! In most (not all) places of employment, that would be a surefire way of getting your posterior section to be given a royal and permanent exit through a goal-scoring Lionel Messi, soccer-style, foot-enabled propulsion. Listening and humility are not the tame-and-lame killers of initiative, creativity, innovation and courage that you assume they are. Just the very opposite is true. Indeed, wild, unrestricted creativity and constant internal challenges have fizzled out many a career and businesses. If that works for you, that’s just great!! Still, it’s far from universally advisable or absolutely superior to everything else (that would be pontificating- not creative).

      • Larry Bud

        Well discretion is the better part of valor. If a new hire has something useful to say, I expect him/her to say it. The author thinks otherwise.

        I don’t know what profession or culture you are trying to describe (are you really trying to speak for “most” places of employment?), but in my experience, no one would ever be fired for merely pointing out different ways of doing things. Indeed, I would expect it.

      • Phil Alcoceli

        You are supposed to be (according to your own words) an employer, but your own language is very misleading. You talked about an employee of yours coming right away and being able to challenge “the status quo” which obviously refers to you, your personal expectations and your business (unless you are intentionally sending “internal challengers and disrupters” to sabotage other businesses or you’re just trying to sabotage us here). Is your business full of status quo that needs to be challenged? Weird and very contradictory. You say (copy and paste): ” …but in my experience, no one would ever be fired for merely pointing out different ways of doing things. Indeed, I would expect it”. In what planet is that where everyone thinks exactly like you so that everyone should exactly follow your advice here? Not Earth, not everyone, not the majority.

        By far, most employers would not tolerate NEW employees to assume that attitude just yet when he/she is supposed to be learning and adapting, the whole point of the article and which you totally missed. The whole “good suggestions and innovations” that you talk about will be very welcome later when you prove your actual value at work. Entitled “royalty” is not welcome by most (but maybe you do). If you’re actually an employer, your “freedom and creativity” obviously does not allow you to read accurately. Again, the author is VERY clearly talking about those early first stages of a new hired employee and you just missed that entirely, completely, or should I say “intentionally”?

      • Larry Bud

        I believe I have made my point to the author. It is not worth my time to participate any further.

      • Phil Alcoceli