New Delhi/Mumbai: It’s that time of the year when a lot of youngsters move from their campuses to their workplaces. While summer jobs and internships may have given a taste, it’s still a different world — where professionalism and protocol reign supreme.
Whether it’s your first day at work, or your first day at your fifth job, these tips from experts and first-time executives can certainly make that unnerving day a little more welcoming.
Do your homework. One week before the first day, call up your supervisor or human resources (HR) manager to make sure everything is in order. If you have any questions about your new job, now’s the time to get them answered. Read any literature about your employer, and the website. If you are a student, pull out those notes from the pre-placement talks.
“Before the interview, we have pre-placement talks. People from the company come over and answer any queries that you have,” says Dhawal Jhamb, a former doctor in Hyderabad who joined private equity firm Invascent Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd this April.
Dodge traffic. Plan the route to work and identify some alternate routes to eliminate embarrassing moments on the first day. Should there be a traffic jam, or if a train line is out of service, you will be glad you did this. Be punctual.
Dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Go formal on the first day. Follow up by dressing according to the dress code of the organization. “One should present oneself in a professional manner and dress up professionally. Pay special attention to grooming and personal hygiene,” advises Ravi Verma, vice-president and global head of human resources at Nucleus Software. While a casual look may be in, you don’t want to send the message that you have a casual approach towards work.
Keep the gossip on Page 3. Paying attention to the grapevine pays. But do not contribute to it. Complaining about the boss, office mates, any co-worker or even the previous job, puts the new employee in a bad light. “Always understand things before jumping to conclusions and offering solutions and opinions prematurely. Do not criticize company policies until one’s credibility is established. Don’t keep saying ‘this is what we used to do in my previous company’, understand people and develop relationships,” says Aadesh Goyal, board chairman of MIE Educational Services Pvt. Ltd.
Ask questions. About expenses, reimbursements, cab policies, timings, reporting structures, the organization’s mission. The most commonly committed mistake on the first day on the job is lack of communication, points out Goyal. “New joinees tend to keep to themselves and often form perceptions.” Get proper information. Verma advises not to listen to strangers and their jargon.
But know when to bite your tongue. From queries about reporting structure, key responsibility areas, paperwork that needs to be completed, work timings, to small but significant things like bathroom access, elevators, stairs, appropriate spots for coffee and lunch breaks, newcomers have a lot of questions.
While these questions are important, take your time before bombarding your colleagues. Don’t turn it into an interrogation.
As Goyal says, do not ask questions just for the sake of asking questions. “Remember, people cooperate with people who they think are nice people.” New employees also need to be careful about not throwing their weight around or passing comments without collecting all the facts. Being too aggressive or rigid gives the impression that you may have an “attitude problem”, warns Goyal.
Reach out to colleagues.“I did not have a problem adjusting at my workplace because I had joined with some friends from college. Also the people in the office are really understanding and friendly and I was accepted very easily as a part of the organization,” remembers Seema Singh, who recently joined a public relations firm. But not everyone is so lucky. So make an effort to meet others halfway. Don’t hesitate to initiate a conversation with them.
Find a buddy. That’s where induction or orientation programmes come in. Some companies have formal programmes to link new hires with mentors, but in the absence of one, find your own.
“The buddy helps the newcomer acquaint her/himself with the organization and learn the finer details at work. The ‘buddies’ are also oriented about how to deal with the newcomers and help them to settle down in the organization in the best possible way,” explains Jyotika Dhawan, co-founder and managing director, Helix-HR.
Find a balance. Work smart, not hard. Don’t forget the person you were before the job came along. Exercise, play the piano, volunteer, get out of the office, call your mother.
Innovate and learn. Raise your hand when work needs to be done. Embrace challenges. “I have been given a lot of responsibilities since the beginning, which is actually good because it gives me a chance to prove myself,” said Alankrita Narula, a 21-year-old executive trainee for a Mumbai advertising form. “I have learnt that it is very important to be alert at all times. It is also very necessary to be well-informed and aware of everything that happens around.”
Adds Nandita Gurjar, vice president of human resources at Infosys Technologies Ltd, “Today’s youngsters are prompt with the question— ‘What do I get?’—immediately on joining. Instead focus on how you can contribute effectively to your organisation.”
Seema Singh, 21
Education: Bachelor’s in Mass Media (Journalism) from Sophia College
Organization: Saffron Media
Starting Salary: About Rs1.8 lakh annually
Quote: There is only one way through which a person can prove him or herself at their workplace—by working hard and that is what I am doing.
Avik Sen, 22
Education: BSc, Aston Business School, Aston University, UK
Organization: Ernst & Young
Starting salary: 30,000 pounds (Rs25.2 lakh)
Quote: Being an international student from India adds some extra burdens. While choosing a job, I had to ensure that it wouldn’t compro- mise my aspirations and also ensure that I could pay off my student loan. I need to ensure that I gather as much experience and as many qualifications as possible, so that I am on a solid footing when I return.
Dhawal Jhamb, 32
Education: Medical school from Lokmanya Tilak Medical College, Mumbai; MBA from Indian School of Business (ISB)
Organization: Invascent Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd
Starting salary: Cannot disclose; in line with ISB average of Rs19 lakh annually
Quote: I started work in April. In the corporate world … you don’t have to run around. You have to sit. That was the difference.