Monday 18 June 2012

20 Tips for a Great First Impression!

The first days at work are always known for the impact that the new employee has upon his or her new colleagues.

From these early stages, we start categorising people, forming our perceptions of them and what their character might be like; we might opt for shortcuts, however, and our first impressions about people could dangerously turn into long-term perceptions and reputations. This is of course good for people who make positive first impressions (the halo effect), but bad for people who make negative first impressions.

During these 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 organization. Needles to say however, first impressions do not dictate your whole career. So if you have had a negative first experience, and might have started off on a wrong foot, don't worry, there is still time to remedy!

Muovo would like to share with you 20 tips that will help you make a great first impression!

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

2. Dress Professionally / Blend in With Co-Workers
"Dress how you want people to perceive you because it plays a huge role in how you are initially treated," advises Desiree Devaney, a financial analyst with GE Capital Credit. "Perfectly groomed means efficient and reliable in work; unkempt means disorganized and therefore difficult to trust with different assignments. After awhile, people realize these things do not necessarily correspond, but initially, your looks and dress are your representation to them."

3. Show Your Team Spirit
You are now part of a work team, and teams work together to solve problems and get the job done. Show loyalty to your co-workers and focus more, initially at least, on sharing any recognition you get with the team. Always give credit to the team.

4. Learn Co-Workers' 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.

5. Ask Questions / 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. "Be open-minded," suggests an English language and literature grad. "I think when you are just starting out, it is easy to feel somewhat competitive; you may feel that you have something to prove. In effect, that kind of thinking will probably land you in the unemployment line again. Be co-operative, LISTEN, ask questions  no one expects you to know everything -- and communicate openly with colleagues and supervisors."

6. Take Notes / Go to Orientation
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 behavior shows a lack of attention to detail.

7. Be a Self-Starter; Take Initiative
In most situations, in your first days on the job, you will be given small doses of work -- to let you get your feet wet. As you finish assignments and are ready to handle a bigger workload, take the initiative and ask for more assignments. Whatever you do, don't just sit there waiting for your next project. Agrees Ali von Staudach, senior account executive for CNET Networks, "Be proactive. Don't wait for an assignment. Stick up your hand and ask for something to do," advises von Staudach, a communication studies graduate.

8. Discover Everything About Your New Employer
In theory, you should have already done your homework during the interviewing process, but there is always more to learn now that you are on the inside. "Get an employee handbook" exhorts a MBA grad with an information-technology concentration. "Don't act or think you know more about everything than your peers." In addition, gather all those reports and company literature and read up and become an expert on your organisation.

9. Work Full Days
There's nothing that can affect your reputation faster than routinely coming into work late or leaving work early. Especially in these first days or weeks on the job, be sure you get to work early and leave no earlier than when the majority of your co-workers leave. An engineering graduate says, "Be dedicated and flexible. Once you have established yourself, you can leave early, go out for lunch, shift your hours, or take work home with you. But in the beginning, be totally dedicated to being there all the time and picking up as much as you can possibly handle."

10. Take Advantage of After-Hours Activities

Many organisations have formal or informal after-hour activities, such as sports leagues. Get involved, even if only as a cheerleader, because these types of activities are great ways to bond with your co-workers. Do be on your best behavior during these outside-work activities, though. "If attending happy hours with co-workers, never drink more than one drink," suggests Anne Johnson, senior corporate relations coordinator for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Johnson, an economics grad from the University of Dallas, goes on to recall, "A co-worker that started about four months after me came to a happy hour with us and had too much to drink. Now, no one will invite her again. You don't want to make a stupid mistake like that."

11. Avoid Office Politics and Gossip
As with any social organization, the workplace is full of rumors 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 an English education graduate. "Don't repeat;  don't solicit gossip."

Magennis agrees, "Stay out of the office politics for as long as possible," he says. "It's inevitable that you will be exposed to them sooner or later, and you will most likely participate in them as well as it's human nature. But stay out of the game for the first few months."

12. Keep Personal Business on Company Time to a Minimum
Studies show that just about everyone conducts some amount of personal business on company time, checking email, making dinner reservations, buying stuff online. Your goal is to keep your personal business to a minimum and stay focused on work.

13. Establish a Good Attendance Record
Just as with working full days, 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 or months on the job. 

14. Listen More than Talk
"Listen, Listen, Listen . . . don't act like a know-it-all right off the bat," cautions one entry-level worker. "The idea is to communicate that you have some very marketable skills and you are here to learn and apply your skills to help the organisation achieve success." You don't want to get the reputation as the office know-it-all, or worse, someone who always has to have the limelight. If you have a legitimate contribution, make it, but if not, do more listening and absorbing those first days on the job.

15. Track Accomplishments

Tracking your accomplishments is great for any number of reasons, for your personal satisfaction, for raise and promotion meetings, and for future job-hunting.

16. Show Appreciation
Nothing works like kindness and genuine appreciation. Show your appreciation to everyone who helps you learn the ropes during your first days on the job, from your co-workers to receptionists to the human resources folks.

17. Find a Mentor
You don't need to jump on this task on your first day, but as you get introduced to senior staff, begin thinking about developing a mentoring relationship with a member of management above you, and outside your department, in the organisation. Mentoring has numerous benefits, from a simple sounding board to someone who helps direct and advance your career within the organization.

18. Get and Stay Organised / Set Goals
If you're one of those super-organised people, this tip will be easy for you. The rest of us, however, need to develop a system for keeping track of meetings, appointments, assignments, and projects. Get an organiser or planner and keep on top of all your work. You certainly don't want to miss an early key deadline or meeting. And as you look ahead, set goals for yourself, and then strive to achieve them. "I set goals for myself," notes a 2001 education graduate. "I wanted to appear professional in my dress, posture, and speech. I wrote that goal on index cards and put them everywhere."

19. Keep Your Boss Informed - of Everything
Your boss is not a mind-reader, so keep her or him informed of how you are doing. Especially in those early days, meet with your boss to further establish a rapport and relationship. "Request meetings with your boss on a consistent basis to review performance. Express interest in moving ahead and ask what else you can be doing to get to that next step," advises von Staudach. Be sure he or she knows you are a self-starter and hard-worker. Just don't bring the boss every little problem; instead, for minor issues, ask for help from co-workers.

20. Meet and Network with Key People in Organisation & Profession

"Network," advises von Staudach. "Join an organisation outside of work. Take additional classes to stay ahead in your field. Take advantage of every opportunity to network with key people in your organization and profession, attend staff meetings, professional organisation conferences, trade shows, every opportunity to meet colleagues in your field. Just because you have a new job does not mean you suspend your network; constantly manage and grow your network of contacts because you never know when a problem or opportunity will arise. And networking with key people can also help you in finding one or more mentors.

Final Thoughts

Being the newest member of the organisation,  the 'rookie', is both challenging and exciting. These 20 tips should help provide you with some insights and direction as you approach that new job. Don't worry  however if you don't make a perfect first impression in these early days on the job. Remember to relax, keep your mind (and ears) wide open, get to know your team members, and do your tasks as best as you could, and you should go far in making a lasting impression and building a good, solid reputation for yourself.


Nikita Pisani at Muovo


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