How To Make A Positive First Impression At Your First (Real) Job

One of the most considerable challenges in career progression is getting noticed at work.

learn more about Jamilla D. Ali

By Jamilla D. Ali

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So you've finally landed a job that will launch your promising and exciting career: congratulations! After countless resume submissions, networking, several interviews, and perhaps some tears too, the daunting task of job searching is finally over. But in the midst of narrowing down the ideal companies to work for and picturing yourself there, you may have overlooked the seemingly mere yet complex obstacles you'll face once you've been hired.

In my opinion, one of the most considerable challenges in career progression is getting noticed at work. When you're just beginning your career and unsure of where you may belong amongst a small or large pool of talent (your colleagues), your confidence can potentially take a hit if you're not strategic during the ever so important first few days at work. The importance of adding value through initiative will certainly get you on the radar of important company influencers and potentially excite your new counterparts. Here are some ways to do just that:

1. Observe your new surroundings

There will inevitably be a vast variety of characters at your new job. The dynamics of a new environment can be, to put it simply, rather overwhelming. Outside of settling in and meeting your new team, become your own private spy. Observe the in's and out's of those you'll interact with on a daily basis. Watch the behaviors of colleagues and superiors that are under tremendous pressure. Attempt to make out the trigger points and personalities of your new team. This will be beneficial to you in the long run. Why? Well, observation gives you an idea of who to turn to in times of need, success, or advice.

2. Curiosity demonstrates respect

During the first week of a job I recently accepted, I saw an opportunity to sit down with a few of my new colleagues to learn more about their day-to-day tasks, and how I could possibly help with that. I explained that I'm a genuinely curious person, and understanding the diverse backgrounds of my teammates is incredibly important to me. They happily discussed their roles and seemed impressed with my initiative. This in turn has given me a leg up at work, and put me on radar of some important people. Remember, most of today's novice professionals may be intimated by demonstrating initiative too early in their careers. Be the one to stand out, and show that you're excited to be there.

3. Be authentic

Not only will you be observing your colleagues, your new colleagues will be critically observing you. Be as authentic as possible during your early interactions at work. Avoid being too passive or overbearing. Instead, share some positive stories of your previous experiences in work or life. Be sure to make strong eye contact and introduce yourself in a graceful and respectful manner. This in turn, will ease your new colleagues, uncertainty of having a new person on board, which may upset the dynamics of the current workplace vibe.

4. Think like your new boss

In my experience thus far, you can learn a lot about your boss and their expectations of you from simply observing how they treat your colleagues. As I said above, being observant can benefit you in the long run. Thinking like your boss can relieve you of any uncomfortable talks or warnings you may encounter, if you're not measuring up to expectations. Adjust your mentality to think like your boss while at work, and I can guarantee you'll find yourself cultivating solutions, problem solving, and adding value without even knowing it. A good boss promotes proactive and forward thinking. If you're so lucky to have a boss like this, you'll shine and succeed in all you set out to do.

5. Find a best friend at work

Finding a pal at work can take extended periods of time. However, developing a strong friendship with a counterpart or superior will give you the much-needed support you'll need in your new role. A best friend at work will be a shoulder to lean on in bad times, but they will also empower you to do your best, despite the odds that may stack against you during the bad times. This person will always have your back, and embodies some of the same qualities you have. Once you've explored your new job and all that it can offer you, you'll be making waves through the company in no time. Remember to stay confident, positive, prompt, and consistent in adding significant value at work, and you'll be on your way to a promising career.

Related: Developing and Maintaining Connections For Self-Made Success

Jamilla D. Ali

Jamilla D. Ali is a native New Yorker and graduate of Saint Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. Jamilla previously worked at a boutique branding agency in Dubai, United Arab Emirates where she  was responsible for all new client business development efforts. Prior to Jamilla’s experience in Dubai, she was a writer for various startup blogs catered to the underground hip hop music scene and cultural activities in and around the New York City area. Jamilla continues to pursue multiple disciplines and aspires to write a book documenting her life changing experiences at home and abroad. 

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