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9 Steps To New Job Success

by Ramon Greenwood

This month hundreds of thousands of careerists--from those carrying freshly minted diplomas through veterans in the workplace--start new jobs.

Survival, to say nothing of success, is far from guaranteed.

One-fourth of those in their first career jobs don't survive the first year, according to a study by The Employment Foundation. Nearly half are out the door in 18 months, reports Leadership IQ, a training firm.

The message is clear: recognize the extreme importance of getting off on the right foot from day one on a new job. Performance in the early days will often provide strong and lasting indicators for both employee and employer as to how a new hire will perform. Fair or unfair, first impressions have a lasting effect on success.

Nine Basic Guidelines

There are nine basic guidelines that can be helpful in making the most of the first job, according to Ramon Greenwood, Senior Career Counselor,

1. Work, work, work and then work some more. No substitute, no short cut will replace work. This means more than working diligently from eight to five. Take work home for nights and on weekends. Near total immersion in the job is recommended.

2. Arrive early on the job and stay late. Get to work at least 30 minutes before the specified starting time for the first several months. This is a good time, before the interruptions of the day start, to take care of routine chores and get a head start on the day.

Often, the boss is also in early. (That may have something to do with his being boss.) It's a great time to get better acquainted with him.

Demonstrate interest in the job. Ask for extra information and guidance.

Stay a while after the regular hours. Clean up the personal work place.

Collect the files and reading materials to take home for review that night.

Make a list of actions to be taken the next day.

3. Don't expect to conquer the world in six months. But realize the scoreboard is operating from day one.

4. Don't be afraid to ask questions and seek help when needed. To do so is a sign of strength not an admission of weakness, as is often assumed. Seeking assistance, intelligently, shows confidence and desire to do the job.

Acquire a mentor as soon as possible. Find someone who has been around the track to provide coaching and share experiences. This will not be difficult to do; most people like to be asked for advice.

5. Observe how things "really get done." Learn how the machinery of the organization works. (This is likely to be quite different from what's spelled out in the policy and training manuals.) Absorb the folklore.

6. Don't join cliques or deal in office politics. Leave the gossip to others.

7. Respect the hierarchy. The organization is bigger and stronger than any one person. The new boy in the neighborhood can't change it in the beginning. Recognize and respect there's a chain of command; everybody has a boss. Rebels rarely survive for the long haul.

8. Know the business of the business... the mission of the organization, what it does and what values it represents. Learn how the job fits into the overall picture.

9. Adapt to the environment. Observe the style of dress casual or more buttoned down? and be guided by it. Is business done in an informal manner or strictly by the rules? By memos and formal meetings or by face-to-face discussions and chance meetings in the hallway?

It just makes common sense to recognize that those who go contrary to these guidelines make life difficult for themselves and raise the odds against their success.

Who needs that?

Ramon Greenwood is a former Senior Vice President of American Express, and career counselor. To subscriber to his free semi-monthly newsletter and blog please go to

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