Whether you have been laid off for 18 months or away from the workforce to raise children, it’s always tough to re-enter the world of work. But starting off a new job on the right foot has never been more important.
Whether you have been laid off for 18 months or away from the workforce to raise children, it's always tough to re-enter the employment world. But starting off a new job on the right foot has never been more important.
Integrating yourself into a new workplace - complete with its own culture, expectations and responsibilities - presents numerous challenges, especially when your skills might be rusty or you are entering a new field. But you can make the most of any new opportunity by following this advice from outplacement specialists John Challenger and Bob Gotwalt.
1. Take the time to get to know all of your new co-workers: superiors, peers and direct reports. During your first three months on the job, establish strong connections through lunch, coffee or respectfully asking for a few minutes of their time. "It's important to recognize that relationships in the organization are so crucial. They are really forming an opinion about you," said Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement firm with a Minneapolis office. "Developing a great relationship with your boss is really important so that he or she knows you can be counted on and that you are really competent at what you do."
2. Establish a consistent approach of communicating with your new boss. Find out how your supervisor wants to be kept apprised of your progress, and then follow-through on that preferred method of communication, whether that entails frequent status updates with an e-mail, phone call or face-to-face meeting, said Gotwalt, director of professional services at Lee Hecht Harrison, a global talent development and career transition firm.
3. Make sure you understand from day one what expectations and objectives the company envisions for you. Find out the significant priorities for the position, create a 30-, 60- and 90-day plan for hitting the goals, and then move forward to tackle those action items. "This very quickly establishes the fact that what you said you could bring to the organization, you are actually bringing in skills, knowledge and abilities," said Gotwalt. "It establishes your credibility quite quickly."
1. Avoid telling your superiors immediately the 100 different things that need to change at the company. "Don't come in as a naysayer. Come in positively and not just as someone who thinks you should be the boss right away," said Challenger. "Work at earning your place there rather than thinking it's yours just because you've been hired."
2. Don't be an isolationist. While it's important to be busy with your new responsibilities, restrain yourself from walking into your office, closing the door and getting to work without establishing strong communication with the team about objectives and direction, noted Gotwalt.
3. Finally, now is not the time or place to stand out. If the company culture includes wearing jeans, avoid showing up in your Sunday best - and vice versa, Challenger advised. Fitting in socially will help you achieve your overall job goals.
Follow this guidance and you'll be back in the swing of work in no time.
- Suzy Frisch
Freelance writer based in the Twin Cities