Filed under: Professionalism

First day on the job: 10 ways to make it successful

You finally made it. Your first day on the job. You’ve proven yourself through your studies, your resume and your interview. It’s smooth sailing from here, right?

It can be with the correct approach. But don’t confuse smooth sailing with slacking. Now’s the time to assure your new supervisor and coworkers that their decision to bring you on board was the right one.

You’re going to make an immediate impression on the first day. Follow these 10 steps to make sure it’s a good one.

Arrive on time. Remember how important the arrival time was for the interview? It’s still important today. The “15 minutes early” rule still applies.

Dress appropriately. If you’re unsure what the office dress code is, it’s completely appropriate to ask your director or the HR department beforehand.

Ask questions. No one expects you to know everything from the start. Ask questions now because you don’t want to ask a question three months from now that should have been asked on the first day.

Practice your “tell me about yourself” answer. You’ll be asked this question. A lot. Revisit the elevator speech you gave during your interview (it’s okay now to sprinkle a few personal anecdotes such as where you live). Keep your answers brief – people aren’t going to remember a ton of details in the first meeting.

Bring necessary documents. On your first day, you’ll complete paperwork to get you established, such as securing a parking pass, a work badge and paycheck items. Be sure to bring a form of identification (driver’s license, passport, etc.) and bank account information, as it’s likely you’ll be completing a direct deposit form.

Don’t be the comedian. A sense of humor is great, but allow time to figure out the office culture when it comes to jokes and humor. Avoid being labeled the office clown or comedian who doesn’t take his work seriously.

Take notes. Bring a legal notepad on the first day, or grab one at the office. Write things down (you’ll tell yourself you’ll remember it all, but you won’t). Write down questions to ask. It’s likely you’ll carry this notepad for the first few weeks.

Accept an invitation for lunch. Even if you packed your favorite ham and cheese sandwich. If coworkers invite you to join them for lunch, say yes. They’re making the effort to welcome you so take them up on their offer.

Dodge office politics. Offices have cliques. Offices have coworkers who know the 411 about everyone.  Don’t get swept up in office politics on the first day.

Listen. You have a lot to learn.

 

 

 

May 19, 2015

13 tips for professional email etiquette

Email is a primary way to communicate in the professional world. Students use emails to communicate with professors, job seekers use it to navigate the job search process and employees use email as a primary communication method in the office.

Given its importance, make sure you know email etiquette. It’s not just a matter of being polite. Using email improperly can have lasting consequences. Check out these 13 tips before you hit the send button.

1. Use a professional email address. An email address containing your name or a combination of your first and last name works best.

2. Identify the topic in the subject line. Don’t leave email recipients guessing why you’re writing them, and don’t give a long winded answer. A subject line that reads “I have a question about the grade that I received for the midterm exam last Thursday” gets cut off when it appears in the inbox. A subject line reading “Question re: COMM 110 Midterm” works better.

3. Start with a formal greeting. Any professional email that begins with “Hey” deserves the delete button. “Dear” is the most formal greeting and your safest bet. “Hello” can also be used. Address the person with a salutation (Dear Professor Smith, Hello Dr. Jones, etc.)  Continue using a formal title until given permission otherwise.

4. Write a brief email. Think about how quickly you scan your emails. Keep this time frame in mind when drafting an email. Use clear, concise language to convey your point. Paragraphs help break down the email into smaller sections. Email isn’t the format for offering a long explanation about confusing topics.

5. Don’t use email to replace face-to-face or phone conversations. The amount of emails sent and received in an office on any given day could likely be cut in half if people simply picked up the phone. Remember that the purpose of email is not to permit passive aggressiveness or laziness.

6. Avoid emoticons. When emailing professors, supervisors, or others higher up the chain of command, don’t include emoticons. Is it okay to use smiley faces when corresponding with coworkers? It depends on the office etiquette. Whatever procedure has been established, follow it.  

7. Be mindful that grammar conveys emotions. WHEN YOU USE ALL CAPS, YOU’RE YELLING AT THE RECIPIENT. If anger is the emotion you’re feeling at that moment, don’t send the email. on the other hand using lowercase letters gives the perception of laziness.

8. Keep exclamation points to a minimum.  Exclamation points convey excitement and should be used sparingly in writing. Whether rightly or wrongly, overuse of exclamation points shows immaturity.

9. Be careful with humor. If you say something funny in email, remember that you aren’t physically present to back up your remark with facial expressions or voice connotation. In a professional email exchange, it’s best to omit humor unless you and the recipient(s) know each other quite well.

10. Think before hitting “reply all.” The constant “you’ve got mail” notification gets pretty draining – especially when it’s for an email that you had no business being a part of in the first place. When sending an original email, think long and hard about who really needs to be included. Conversely, when you reply to an email that was originally sent to multiple people, ask yourself if everyone really needs to see your answer.

11. Know the proper way to use courtesy copy (CC) and blind copy (BCC).  Only copy people (CC) who are directly involved with or impacted by the email subject. Use blind copy (BCC) when sending to a large distribution list. Should BCC be used to reply to some people in secret? No.

12. Remember that culture affects how people speak and write. Cultural differences lead to miscommunication. Email is no exception. Be mindful of a person’s cultural background when sending or receiving emails.

13. Follow the golden rule: “When in doubt, leave it out.” Email isn’t private. The delete button isn’t permanent. If you have doubts about the email’s content or the language and tone used, don’t send it.

 

July 21, 2014


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