In 3 day’s time, I’m starting a new job as a Digital Comms Officer. The position is quite junior, but the charity is based a 20-minute walk from my house – a rare luxury in London.
The cause resonates with me: supporting vulnerable people who don’t want to or, for whatever reason, can’t go to the police with the concerns or information they have.
I met with a good friend yesterday to talk tactics for making the right impression and getting the most out of the role in the first days and weeks.
Here are the key bits that I took away from that chat. I hope to build on this list – let me know your tips, too!
1. Define your own agenda
How often do we go into a job focussed on what the organisation wants from us? What about what you’re hoping to get from your time in the role? And how can these align with the business’s objectives?
For me, this role is a fantastic opportunity to refresh and develop my digital skills. So my agenda looks like this:
1. Regain confidence in managing social media accounts and associated software (Hootsuite, Radian, analytics etc)
2. Establish clear working boundaries – such as taking lunch breaks and not being the tea lady – and stick to them!
3. Develop my video editing and design skills.
4. Network and make contacts through work events, conferences etc.
5. Prove to myself that I’m good at Digital Comms!
The idea of setting an agenda is a compelling one. I’ve always approached new roles with a mental list of things I’m anticipating that the organisation will want me to achieve for them, and how I can deliver on this. I’ll still be thinking about this, of course, but having my own agenda too feels like an anchor. Something that tethers the ‘work me’ and the ‘real me’ together.
Plus, if I am actively trying to get better at stuff, surely that’s a win-win for everyone? I am committed to being the best I can be, and bringing those skills to the tasks in-hand.
2. Be visible
This one takes a bit of courage, but will pay dividends if done right, I’m told!
In the first week, in addition to finding out where the toilets and the tea point are, make time to go around introducing yourself. Most places will give you a quick tour and point out some relevant colleagues.
Go beyond that though, by making it your mission to say hello and introduce yourself to the CEO and as many key staff as possible inbetween. Payroll, IT, HR and Facilities are all crucial people to put names to faces. They’re paying your wages and fixing your broken laptop – make friends with them!
3. Don’t panic
Being the newbie is stressful, but you’ll never get a better opportunity to pick your colleagues’ brains and appeal to their goodwill.
My friend who gave me these tips said that her oft-repeated phrase is “indulge me” when asking for further information about something she’s unsure of. Likewise, she said that it’s good to get into the habit of phrasing requests for help neutrally, rather than apologising for a perceived lack of knowledge. Rather than saying “I’m no good at XYZ, can you help me?”, ask for clarification or explain that you “want to be sure” before embarking on a task.
The idea is that you’d need to be a particular type of arsehole to reject someone’s request to complete a task confidently and correctly.
Everyone I asked for advice for getting off on the right foot had variations on the same old, classic advice: be yourself.
I like to present a more sanitised version of myself for the first few days and weeks in a new job, while I gauge the temperature of the team. I’m guilty of being a bit too reserved at times, but do my best to chip-in and show up when it counts.
What stuff do you do to prep for a new role? Let me know!