3 Common Mistakes when Starting a New Job

by | Career Growth

Congratulations! You landed the new job, and you’re ready to meet your new coworkers and face this new challenge. This is typically a very exciting AND nervous period.  Since your emotions are all over the place, sometimes it’s easy to fall into some common missteps right away. 

Here are the 3 common mistakes you should AVOID when starting your new job:

1. Don’t say the phrase ‘this is how we did it at my old job’. 

There is nothing more annoying to your new coworkers than listening to you talk about your former employer.  It is the equivalent to talking about your ex on a first date.  It’s way too soon for you to bring up your past employer or relationships. Doing so might give your new team the perception that you are either not confident enough in this new position, or even worse, that you think you’re better than them. 

Instead, your focus should be on building rapport and learning the ropes. As a newbie, you haven’t yet learned the processes and the culture enough to start comparing or making suggestions for improvement. Hey, if you’re like me, you’re still struggling just to remember everyone’s names! 

Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rely on your past experiences or bring over good ideas that you implemented in your former position. Your talents and skills are what is going to make you successful in this new role, and what made you such a catch to the hiring manager. But there are much better ways to communicate suggestions, ideas and recommendations without constantly name dropping your last company and rubbing people the wrong way.

For instance, instead of saying “at my old job we used to do xyz” try a different angle. “Hey, would it be possible to try this?” 

Now you sound more inquisitive than condescending. This also leaves room for the other party to explain more about the process/task. Perhaps they have tried it before and it wasn’t successful. Perhaps it won’t work because there are some other things that you haven’t even learned yet that would cause an issue.  Or, maybe now, they will be more open to considering your idea because you approached it in a better way. 

2. Don’t give yourself unrealistic expectations! 

Trust me, I have been there too. As a high performer it can feel frustrating not yet understanding how everything works. You have to rely on other people to fill in the gaps, and you’re at the mercy of their schedules and availability.  You just want to hurry up and be on your own to do great things. I urge you to slow down! 

You might not want to hear this, but it’s okay that you don’t know everything yet. Now take a breath and re-read that again. Setting unrealistic expectations just adds unnecessary pressure on you which means more stress and less enjoyment. Don’t rush the process and miss out on opportunities and experiences along the way. Be patient. You won’t learn everything in a day, a week, or even a month. This is supposed to be the honeymoon phase – you should still be looking forward to what this new position will offer you.

  • Talk to your boss and new co-workers about what realistic expectations are for your growth within the position.
  • What would they like you to accomplish in your first week? 
  • Are there any particular areas they need you to get up-to-speed on first? 
  • Where would they like to see you at the end of the month? 

This way you have some specifics to focus on that are realistic to what you can achieve. What is reasonable for you to be able to accomplish in the first 30 days? Then 60 days, 90 days. 

Depending on your level of responsibility and the size of your team, it may take 6 months or more for you to feel completely comfortable in your new role.  This is 100% natural. When you started at your last job you weren’t an expert. It took months or years to get to where you ended up. So, give yourself the same grace and opportunity to learn now. Focus on 1-2 value-adding items each month. It will help you build confidence and momentum.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and write down the answers! 

A lot of new information is about to come at you. Write it all down! Do you feel embarrassed having to take so many notes? Or is it more uncomfortable to have to ask your co-worker a question that they already told you the answer to several times? 

Studies show that asking questions and writing things down help with retention. You’re putting things into your own words and understanding so that it will click faster. Plus, you always have your notes to go over again to study or refer to when working on an important task. No one expects you to memorize everything they are saying. But they do expect you to be competent and demonstrate your interest and willingness to learn. 

**Pro tip, write down fun facts about your new peers too! Unless you are an interpersonal savvy wizard, you certainly won’t remember everyone’s backstory, family tree, and interests. Find a place, privately, that you can jot down some notes about each person to help you remember. Plus, you can take a quick glance at your notes prior to speaking with that person again.  Attention-to-detail is your friend in this situation. He/she may not publicly praise you for remembering their cat’s name, but they sure will appreciate you making an effort. So, keep asking questions and even ask people to slow down so you can write down the answers!  

When starting a new role, remember your first goal is building rapport with new people. You want to make sure that the perception they get of you matches what you intend. Avoid these three common pitfalls and use these tips to start your new career on the right trajectory!

Good luck in your new role! 

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I’m Jovita

I started this business because I am so passionate about developing others and helping them grow beyond where they could have on their own.

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