Starting a New Job? Here are Five Changes You Have to Make

tips for starting a new job

Once you graduate and get a job, it’s time for some new routines.

Life is often about routines, a natural repetition of action that becomes your norm. In college, that routine may be showering every other day, going to class in shorts and flip flops, or always having your hair in a ponytail.

These things, over your four years in advanced schooling, have become just as much a part of you as your morning bowl of Cheerios eaten since childhood.

When you are starting a new job, it’s time for some new routines. College has an ease of life to it, you are rarely being judged, but the workforce is just the opposite, you are always being judged.

Never fear, here are some of the mistakes we made, or witnessed, early in our careers and we want to help you avoid this treacherous path:

Five adjustments you have to make for your first real job #entertainmentjobs Click To Tweet

Personal Etiquette

You got the job, congratulations, but that doesn’t mean you’re on easy street.

You first month on the job will be full of first impressions – and first impressions, they tell me, are the most lasting.  In just a quick introduction to someone new, you will be evaluated immediately and they will form an opinion on you based on your appearance, body language and demeanor. Fair or not, this happens, and it will continue to happen over and over again in your career.

To ensure everyone you meet walks away with a positive impression, follow these guidelines:

  1. Dress job appropriate. When I was at CNN we had a new employee who showed up on the job in jean shorts. No one else wore shorts (especially not jorts), why did he think he should? It didn’t matter if he was great at his job, we all just considered him ‘jorts guy’. Frankly I don’t think I could even tell you his real name.
  2. Lose the cell phone songs. It may have been cute to have Rihanna as your cell phone ringer in college, but it’s not anymore.
  3. Smile and make eye contact. If you droop your head or have a limp handshake you appear to lack confidence. That person will now walk all over you. Smile and have confidence, even if you’re faking it.

Enjoy the Silence

When you are starting a new job, embrace awkward silence. The tendency of young employees is to fill quiet moments with useless banter or babble.

It’s a bad label to be known as an over-talker, it doesn’t matter if you are in a casual conversation with other employees or on a sales call. The impression you give is that your words are more important than everyone elses, even if it’s just nerves on your part.

When you are staring a new job listen much more than speak #enjoythesilence Click To Tweet

In some roles, silence is actually a valuable tool, like sales calls or during meetings and conference calls.

“One of the best pieces of advice I received early in my sales career was to know when to stop talking,” says, ROOT Sports Northwest VP/General Sales Manager Bart Foley.  “So many sellers just can’t stop talking.”

Silence often helps force decisions from the person you are speaking with. If you fill that silence with something useless, just to assuage your own discomfort, you let them off the hook.

Listening Skills

starting a new job

You don’t need an earphone, (that’s what that thing is!) to be a good listener

Becoming a good listener is a skill that needs mastering, especially when you are starting a new job. Rather than thinking about what you are going to say next, be present in each moment and really listen to what someone else has to say – you’ll be amazed how much you learn and how much respect you gain from new co-workers.

There is nothing that upsets a manager more than having to waste time repeating instructions, so listen well from the start.

It also really helps in small talk (which no one actually enjoys) the better you listen, the easier it is to throw relevant questions back at someone, shifting the focus to them.

So if you’re boss mentions casually they have to leave early for their kids baseball game, maybe the next time you see them in the office (if the opportunity presents itself naturally) you can say ‘so how is your kid enjoying baseball’?

Now you have a natural dialogue going that shows you listen, instead of just throwing out awkwardly…’wow, great game last night… am I right’?

Know When to Say When

If you get invited to a work happy hour, show restraint, this isn’t the time for ‘just one more’.

Even if other co-workers are being loud and drinking more than a few doesn’t mean you should. They may have already established a reputation while you are still developing yours. Learn to have a singular social drink.

Most importantly, resist the urge to be cheesy. Buying drinks for a co-worker or boss that you are just getting to know is a juvenile attempt to build rapport. They know you aren’t making much money, so it creates an awkward moment for them.

Save your money and instead try to engage them in a real conversation.

Starting a new job? Know when to say when at happy hour #badimpression Click To Tweet

Develop a Thick Skin

You will make mistakes on the job and you will get criticized by your boss. Most managers want to see how you handle mistakes and grow from them. Stay positive and believe in yourself.

“I work to maintain an unwaveringly extra-positive self-image,” says comedian Jenny Slate. “One decision on someone else’s part, whether they’re affirming or rejecting you, is ultimately minor. You are the constant, and your own opinion of yourself is what matters most.”

Always acknowledge and own your mistakes, don’t try to hide from them or blame anyone else, you’ll gain the respect of your co-workers and managers for your maturity. But don’t let your mistake turn into mistakes because you start doubting yourself.

Just refocus and move on.

About Brian Clapp

Brian Clapp has worked in the broadcast media for over 14 years as a writer, editor, producer & news director. After beginning his career in Atlanta at CNN/Sports Illustrated, he switched coasts to Seattle to work at Fox Sports Northwest. In 2010, Brian began pursuing a new found passion on the digital media side, launching a successful website and then taking on the role of Director of Content for &

Recently Brian has become addicted to Google+ and LinkedIn so add him to your circles and make him a contact. No seriously, you should.


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