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7 Basics Every New Hire Should Know

Back to basics isn’t such a bad thing.

Per LinkedIn's Talent Blog "Extreme Onboarding," consulting firm BCG shows that onboarding has the second most significant business impact compared to the other 21 HR programs. This is not surprising. Yet, from experience and observation–and the perspective of being on both sides of the fence—organizations often fall short on helping entry-level new hires (and new hires in general) assimilate to the work world and new organizations. New hire orientation programs are frequently too brief and limited, and they should include more than the common one-time meeting.

For new hires right out of college, entering the work world can feel like they just entered outer space—a new world where the language, dress code, and behaviors are different and need to be learned and understood to survive and succeed. Below are some of the basic career tips new hires need to keep in mind to succeed in the work world.

1. You’re an adult, and your employer expects you to act like one.

Unless your goal is to appear unprofessional, act maturely in all work-related interactions. This should be self-explanatory and go without saying, but from experience, it needs a bit more explanation. By the time you enter the workforce, you will be expected to take responsibility for your work, personal behavior, and so on. It is not appropriate to have your parents call in for you for any reason unless you are literally in a situation that you cannot do it yourself (i.e. you're in the hospital).

With the exception of coming up to speed and learning what you need to learn to do your job effectively, your supervisor and co-workers will expect you to complete your work without a ton of hand holding. You will also be expected to communicate and take responsibility to have your work items covered if you need to be out of the office for any reason. Ask your manager who would typically cover for you if you are unsure of who to identify for this responsibility.

2. Be careful with early demands–trust and rewards are earned.

Some new hires come to work with demands their first week of work, from how they want their schedule handled to how they'll handle their work, and more. Tread lightly here. Trust is earned. When you prove yourself by showing up and doing your work well, you will be given much more leniency on how you handle your schedule and work in general.

3. Set healthy boundaries early on.

This career tip is one that can take some time to understand, but it's worth mentioning, so you're aware of the importance of setting healthy boundaries in regards to work. When you set healthy boundaries, you are clarifying what is acceptable and unacceptable to you in regards to how late you're willing to work, the total number of hours you're willing to work, how you'll deal with saying "no" when needed, and how personal you're willing to allow your work relationships to be. Once you set the example that you're willing to do certain things, it’s hard to go back. In other words, if your manager sends you emails over the weekend, and you respond, then you may unknowingly set the expectation that you will always be willing to work on weekends.

4. Mind your own business.

Plenty of employees make themselves look bad by trying to involve themselves in work matters that are none of their business. Work environments can be quite the tangled web of ‘frenemies,’ cliques, and gossip, all of which the savvy and wise new hire will avoid. Unless you are a supervisor, then your work is the only work you're responsible for.

The exception to this rule is if someone is doing something unethical, creating an unsafe work environment due to harassment or bullying, is doing something unsafe, or is negatively impacting your ability to do your job. These scenarios warrant further action on your part by bringing the concern to the attention of your supervisor or HR.

5. Choose your work battles wisely.

With the numerous people you will interact with in the work world, you likely will encounter plenty of frustrations, concerns, and conundrums. To maintain your sanity and productivity at work, it will be helpful for you to discern between challenges you need to deal with vs. the ones you can overlook and move on from.

6. Create good time management skills at work from the start.

When starting work in the corporate world, it doesn't take long for the volume of work and projects to pile up. These items combined with the personal items you need to address on a regular basis can become overwhelming if you don't find a way to put good time management skills into practice while at work. Some common time management techniques include setting priorities, maintaining lists of items to be addressed daily, and scheduling blocks of time to address certain items.

It’s also OK to say "no." The goal here is saying "no" without really saying "no." If you are asked to complete a project or do a task, you can share your current obligations and then negotiate the completion due date. You are essentially saying "yes," while also managing expectations. Also, don't be afraid to ask your manager to help you set priorities if you find the requests piling up.  

If you're constantly being asked to do items that are not within your work scope, you may need to find a way to politely say "no" to these items, as well. Helping someone out at work is one thing, but don't allow yourself to be a doormat or become overwhelmed or stressed by such requests. Finally, give yourself permission to let go of some non-vital items or look for alternative ways to get an activity covered, such as hiring someone to clean your apartment for you.

7. Ask a lot of questions (most of the time).  

There is a lot to learn as a new hire—from how to do your job effectively to how the organization works. It's natural to feel overwhelmed by all the items you will need to learn. Don't be afraid to ask questions to gain clarity when you need it. It's better to get the information to handle things correctly vs learning the hard way that you're doing something incorrectly. No one expects you to be a pro when you are new to a job, and no one expects you to know everything about the organization right away, either. Chances are that others have similar questions to you, so don't be afraid to ask.  

At the same time, show initiative by doing your own research. Take time to learn about your position and the organization before you begin commenting or making suggestions that might be interpreted as not understanding your position or the organization or could be perceived as argumentative or condescending. If you've been provided answers to questions, be sure to listen so you don't have to ask the same questions over and over again, as well.

Sometimes, you need to go back to basics to start off on the right foot. In this case, the basics are best to help new hires get acclimated to the mysterious and exciting work world.

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