January is typically the month when we see the highest number of jobs posted to Idealist.org, and this year is no exception. If you’re lucky enough to snag one of those gigs, here are some things to keep in mind as you begin. Thanks to Michelle Moran of YNPN-NYC for this guest post.
Once you have landed a new job it may seem like the hard part is over, but sometimes your first few weeks at work can be very challenging. Follow these tips to get off on the right foot and avoid making common mistakes.
1. Remember: you were hired for a reason. You beat out other qualified candidates for this job. That means the hiring manager believes you are the best person for the position. Have confidence that you will do a great job and can make important decisions on your own.
2. Learn from others. Pay attention to the ways that your successful colleagues and senior management approach their work, and leverage that understanding to be better at your job. Take the time to observe activities around the organization that may or may not be a part of your direct responsibilities. For example, if you are in fundraising, learn as much as you can about the program side of your organization.
3. Strike a balance between respecting what’s been done and making changes. Unless you are one of the first employees at an organization, there are certain norms that have been established for better or for worse. Don’t begin a new job thinking you are going to change things immediately. Instead, take time to understand why things are the way they are and how you can participate in your organization’s culture.
4. Meet one on one with everyone you will work with. From the intern to the top executive, never assume that you won’t interact with someone or that their advice will not be helpful. Everybody’s work (and opinion of you) matters, especially in a small office. If you can meet with them individually, ask what brought them to the organization, how they approach their role, and how you can best work together. Make sure to write a quick thank you note to everyone you meet.
5. Ask questions. Sometimes people can be so comfortable with a job or work environment that they forget to tell you important things that you need to know as a new employee. Take advantage of your newbie status to ask lots of questions.
6. Stay away from office politics. The last thing you want is to get involved in any drama. If people try to persuade you one way or another, simply state that you are here to do your job and don’t know anyone well enough to make judgments about them. Avoid the office drama queen (or king) as much as possible.
7. If you struggle in your new position, give it some time. You never know how things can change, and how responsibilities that seem difficult now may eventually be what you like most about your job.
8. Be yourself. Authenticity is key to not only winning over your coworkers, but also to doing a really great job in your position, and increasing your chances of a promotion. Ask: are you doing what you love? If your job isn’t what you expected, it might be worth a conversation with your manager.
This is a slightly edited version of a post that originally appeared on the YNPN-NYC blog. The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of New York City supports the professional development of the next generation of nonprofit leaders by providing opportunities for skill-building, information sharing, and networking. Visit YNPN-NYC online at ynpnnyc.org and connect with them on Twitter @ynpnnyc, on Facebook at facebook.com/ynpnnyc, and on LinkedIn at ynpnnyc.org/go/linkedin/.