Surviving Your First Month at Work... And More

By Alyanna Silvestre
Published January 27, 2022

You've made it! You've passed all the difficult hiring obstacles, from putting your revamped resume and cover letter under scrutiny to coming face to face with HR managers during nerve-wracking interviews to the long wait for feedback. Now, all that's left for you to do is show up. However, how do you plan to blend in? How do you intend to approach your first weeks surrounded by new faces, new responsibilities, new customs and routines, no less in a new building?

Your first month in a new job can be scary, and it can definitely have you wondering whether you're making a good impression or you're downright becoming annoying. This agony often pushes some of us to put pressure on ourselves to blend in quickly and learn everything all at once in a short period of time in order to meet the expectations of others (boss, colleagues, and clients). To help you power through your first month, here are some tips that are sure to help you settle in as smoothly as possible and keep you productive at the same time.

Understand your new manager's and team's expectations of you

The first thing you'll want to learn for you to do your job neatly is to understand the expectations of the people you'll be directly working with and for (and maybe the location of the coffee maker). Dig into what success in your role looks like through the eyes of your boss and the members of the team you're in. Try to paint a clearer picture of how you will work with them, what they will be needing from you, and how you will get the resources you need to do your job well. Also, remember to seek out how your performance will be assessed to know what to work on and to meet their expectations and the company's standards. 

Get acquainted with your colleagues

You've already put yourself out there by inquiring about the expectations they have of you, so what's stopping you from making a friend or two?

One of the keys to a successful work-life is having reliable connections and healthy relationships with other professionals, especially those whom you work closely with. Moreover, building trust among the people you work with and maybe creating a new sense of familiarity will help you feel more comfortable doing your thing, particularly when you're in a new environment. Take note, however, that you don't have to develop something deep right away or find an instant best friend just yet. You're only a few weeks in; give it time.

With this in mind, don't hesitate to reach out to your co-workers. Maybe start with a work buddy, someone who can show you the ropes, teach you everything that has not been tackled during your training, and even give you insights and a bit of gossip, all while also being able to digest even the most embarrassing questions you have and still point you in the right direction.

Aside from your work buddy, you must be acquainted with other members as well. You can make the first move to show your new teammates that you’re eager to get to know them and that you're not difficult to get along with. To do so, you can ask to go with them for lunch, make yourself available for some random coffee chats, seek out someone you can relate to, and get to know them not just as colleagues but also as people. Doing so will provide some needed stability to keep you grounded in the first few weeks. However, remember to not get too into the idea of making friends with everyone. Don't mistake someone's politeness for friendliness and learn to be sensitive enough to pick up on a hint as to whether they'd like to be your friend or they find you annoying (Hey, that’s alright. We're not everyone's cup of tea.).

Don't hesitate to ask the right questions

But be sure to throw them at the right time, in the right way, and to the right people.

Don't worry about being annoying. If any, most people will appreciate an inquiring mind, especially if it's from a newcomer, as it shows you are eager and willing to learn. Just be sure not to overdo it because, as I said earlier, most people will find it admirable but not all. So, again, stick to the right questions, maybe something about other unwritten policies of your new workplace or how your role and its duties fit into the overall business. You don't have to ask about every little thing you don't know yet. Google exists for a reason, and sometimes, a little observation of your surroundings and your teammates can provide you the answer you're looking for. 

Be your best self

I really hope you’re not considering the ‘fake it till you make it’ approach. Be real. Smile if you can; don't push it if you can't. Do your best in your own way, try new things out, apply the things you're used to. You came here to work, so be it. Don't let setbacks, missteps, intimidation, and the fact that you're a newbie in a realm of professionals already accustomed to each other and their day-to-day duties scare your passion and grit away. You've been hired for your skills, knowledge, experiences, and perhaps attitude and other things that may not even be in the job description or your resume. So, be yourself, and let your skills, little accomplishments, and progress speak for themselves.

Catch your breath

We're not done yet! Although this is only a reminder…

A reminder for you to take a seat, take a breather, and get some sleep. The first month can have any newbie reeling in, what with all the new information to digest, new routines to follow, and new people to get to know. We've all been there, and I know for sure that you need to cut yourself some slack. It's only the first month. You'll have plenty more chances to blend in better and make your cubicle more you. So sit back and relax every once in a while. You don't want to burn yourself out too soon.

For more discussions and content about job search and professional growth, feel free to explore our IN THE MIDDLE and HEADHUNTED sections, where you will find solutions and career development advice for aspiring professionals and middle managers.