Advice for starting a new job – FOT-Style

Steve Boese Change, HR, Onboarding, Steve Boese

For me as well as for I am sure many other folks in FOT Nation these first days of 2013 are not just the start of a New Year, but also are the start of a new job.  In a bit of shameless self-promotion, and for anyone that cares, the details of my new gig can be found here.

New jobs, even ones that seem a perfect fit or ones in which you were recruited heavily into and maybe even wined and dined (and perhaps given a compelling contract/comp package), always come at the start with some nervousness and angst. Did you make the right decision? Will you like the people there?  Will the ‘deal’ that you discussed when you were being wooed really be the deal, or should you have believed what you read on Glassdoor?

Lots of questions, naturally. And when faced with tough questions, most people also have a natural reaction. We ask Google. So that is what I did a few days ago, searched the almighty Google for ‘Advice for starting a new job’.  There were over 80 Million results. I could have then applied some insight in order to winnow down the result list and find the real gems of understanding,  but instead, and also to try and mimic what I imagine lots of people do, I simply clicked on the first organic result, (not going to link to it here, for reasons that hopefully will become clear).

It was a pretty long piece containing some 20 tips for people starting a new job, not all bad, but I did want to call out a few of the ‘tips’ from the (at least for me), the number one Google search result that people starting a new job and looking for advice would find:

7. Endeavor to arrive earlier and/or stay later than your supervisor to prove you are ready to work hard.

8. Communicate with your supervisor via meaningful emails early and or late in the

day to document your extensive hours.

9. Strive for a perfect attendance record during your first two years. If you are ill try to accomplish as many tasks as possible from home and/or put in extra time when you return.

Classic stuff – get to work early, stay late, (make sure your boss notices both), send some 11:00 PM emails so she knows you’re not a slacker, and if you should dare to get sick (Horror!), try to work from home anyway. Maybe those are all good tips, I don’t know, but they present, individually and taken together in a grouping, (exactly how they are presented in the piece), an incredibly cynical, manipulative, and old-fashioned way to think about work and the workplace.

To be fair, most of the first six tips in the piece are decent, (align yourself with positive people, avoid office gossip, talk meaningfully with your manager to identify success criteria, etc.), so I don’t want to be accused of cherry-picking only the worst bits to call out here. But the idea that hundreds, maybe thousands, (the top result in a Google search has to drive a lot of traffic, no?), of people are being advised to think about their first days on a new job through a kind of a Lord of the Flies paranoia is a little depressing.

So members of FOT nation here is what I propose – let’s try to drive a new take on ‘Advice for starting a new job’ up the Google charts.  Let’s give new job starters some better and more balanced advice from our collective experience and insight. And if you think I am nuts, and ‘Get there early, leave late, and fake like you are working 24/7’ is good advice, then let us know that as well.

Have one best (or at least decent) piece of advice for those of us that are working through those first few awkward days on a new job?  Drop a comment and help us out and maybe this post will one day top the Google search results.

And good luck to everyone starting a new job in 2013!