The call you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived: You’re hired! You simply can’t wait to tell everyone that your jobless nightmare is over. It’s time to celebrate! Enjoy it now, because when the euphoria finally passes, you’ll have some important work to do.
Whether you have been unemployed for a while, are switching to a new company or are starting your very first job, here are some important things to keep in mind.
There can be religious challenges at work. It is crucial to find a rabbi familiar with the working world who can answer your questions about such things as handshakes with members of the opposite gender, potential yichud challenges, after-hour social events, holiday parties, invitations from co-workers to celebrations at religious institutions and other problematic circumstances for observant Jews. I hope to share some strategies in coming articles – such matters can impact your success at your new job.
It’s a cliché, but it is very true: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Whether you are working in a probational period or you were hired outright, you will be watched carefully for the first few weeks and the impression you make will have lasting consequences. It is crucial that you demonstrate your value right away.
I will assume that you have already conducted significant research about your company even before your first interview, but go back and review everything from the company’s website to news articles about your new employer to make sure that all your information is up to date.
Find and read the employer’s personnel code to make sure you are aware of all rules and regulations regarding behavior on the job. All companies have a culture that defines who they are and how they operate, but it can be difficult to discern it as an outsider. Things that may seem perfectly natural at one company, can be considered inappropriate at another (e.g., going out to dinner with co-workers). Still, the description of the company on its website and its personnel code is not necessarily representative of what it is really like on the inside. Pay close attention to what people do and how they act to get a better idea of what is and is not acceptable behavior.
The advice that follows is based on standard office practices, but make sure to be aware if these recommendations are appropriate for your workplace.
Address you manager and co-workers formally (e.g. Mrs. Smith) unless, and until, you are told differently (I usually advise waiting until that is expressed twice before abandoning the formality). Similarly, it’s best to err on the side of dressing too professionally for your first few weeks on the job until you’re told or you see that more casual attire is the norm.
It is also a good idea to research your new co-workers. LinkedIn is an indispensable tool in this regard. Study your co-worker’s profiles so that you know their skills and experience. LinkedIn can also tell you about their volunteer work and other interests, which can be valuable intelligence and a great conversation starter.
Plan to get to work early every day for the first month. Arriving late is a real blow to your professional reputation. Traffic accidents and train delays are beyond your control, but make sure they do not interfere with your first few weeks on the job. It is also important to stay late. Try to be (one of) the last to leave to demonstrate your dedication.
Be flexible with your breaks and lunchtime. Absent yourself when the workload allows, and be willing to work through breaks and lunch to get your work done. Once again, the culture of the company is very important. In some companies the expectation is that employees work through lunch at their desk, while others may expect the team to eat lunch as a group either in a break room or at a restaurant.