5 Tips for the Brand New Employee

Due to these trying economic times, a fact of life is that a lot of people have lost their jobs. Hopefully, the new year will bring new opportunities and job openings for these unfortunate workers. Starting out at a new job is both a difficult and an exciting time for any of us who have been there. But we certainly have to be wary of how we are perceived by our new co-workers. We also have to learn who we can trust and who can help us in our new job. Here are 5 tips that will help you get through this tough transitional time.

1. Don’t Be Too Aggressive

I distinctly remember being in a meeting with a brand new employee who made it a point to give suggestions and recommendations on any issue that came up in the conversation. It’s almost like he had to hear himself speak or he wouldn’t be satisfied. Little did he know that we had already discounted these suggestions during the early stages of the project to which that meeting was devoted.

It is important, especially for brand new employees, to listen a lot. Try not to come across as being overly aggressive because your co-workers will be turned off, especially before they have even gotten to know you. If you are asked for your opinion, offer it. Otherwise try to lay low until you get to know your fellow employees and they get to know you.

2. Remember Names

Salespeople have this one right. They make it a point to remember someone’s name after meeting them for the first time. I’m not sure why, but it takes me at least two times before I remember someone’s name. Then again, I’m not a salesperson, but I think that’s probably better than most. And, as far as making first impressions, we can’t forget the famous quote:

“You get only one chance to make a first impression.”

Making a good impression and remembering someone’s name, will go a long way to getting your working relationship off to a good start.

3. Learn the Landscape

First of all, you should get a copy of the org chart from Human Resources and make it a point to learn it. Knowing who reports to whom, will help you become familiar with all of the players in the organization. Knowing where to go to get help will be essential, not only to a new employee, but to a seasoned one.

Also, if you are aware of who reports to whom, it will help you to avoid stepping on anyone’s toes by inadvertently going over someone’s head. And you should always make yourself aware of whom the officers are in the company. Ingratiating yourself to them early on can certainly go a long way to securing your employment in the company.

4. Be Likable

Sounds pretty simple, huh? This is certainly a pet peeve of mine or maybe I’m just a little too sensitive. Maybe this is more difficult for some versus others but being likable is extremely important, especially when you are just starting out at a new job. One simple way to be likable, in a new work environment, is to simply smile and say “hi” when passing a co-worker in the hallways. It may sound like a very simple thing but, to this day, there are people at my work who simply don’t make it a point to be friendly.

And when you talk to other employees they will tell you the same thing. “What the heck is her problem?” or “What’s the deal with him?” Getting back to #1, you don’t want to be overly aggressive with your likability. This also happens at times. I worked with a guy once who spoke to everyone he met, within the first week, like he knew them for his whole life. This also turned people off. So, the advice is to be pleasant but don’t overdo it. It may sound easy but for some people it is not.

5. Offer to Help Out Your New Co-workers

The best way that you can ingratiate yourself with your new co-workers is to offer to help them out. You were hired because you have specific skills. Chances are, those skills can be used to help out other people at your work. Maybe you have been hired to work in the Finance department. If so, you are probably adept at using Microsoft Excel. The fact is, almost every employee uses Excel to perform their job functions. If you can leverage your skills in Excel to help out your co-workers, you are well on your way to fostering a positive working relationship. The employee you just helped may help you learn who you can trust and who you can’t at your new job.

These may seem like simple tips for the new employee, but you’d be surprised at how many people fail to follow these guidelines. A little common sense and a little likability can go a long way to getting you off on the right foot at your brand spanking new job.

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I am a fellow cubicle dweller and have been working as a software professional for over 20 years. I have a passion site devoted to enhancing your Workspace and Cubicle Accessories. The site is called WorkspaceBliss.com. It used to be called CubicleBliss.com but I wanted to expand my reach to anyone wanting to enhance their own workspace!


  1. Jen on the 13th January

    Great post Bob. I have just started a new job (3 days a week) and yesterday got another one (1 day a week) so some good timely reminders!

    It’s amazing how the little things (smiling, being friendly) go along way, I agree these are important things to remember. I like what you said about learning the landscape – each workplace has a unique one and I agree that it is worth taking the time to learn about it.

    Thanks again


    • Bob Bessette on the 15th January

      Hi Jen,
      Thanks for the lone comment in the woods. I certainly have had my experience in the workplace so hopefully new employees heed what I wrote here. It certainly makes a difference…


  2. M. joshua on the 16th January

    The likable part is pretty huge. It helps if you have a good sense of humor and a sharp wit.

    Those people are the ones others feel the most comfortable around. It builds a good rapport.

    • Bob Bessette on the 16th January

      I agree M. joshua that being likable is extremely important in the workplace. I think it can make the difference between keeping a job and heading out the door. Believe me, if there is a decision to make, the likable employee will typically be the one they will keep.

      Thanks for commenting.


  3. Leo on the 17th January

    I can agree about the likeable, smiling and listening parts. Those are the basic core competencies about dealing with human beings.

    • Bob Bessette on the 19th January

      Hi Leo,
      You’d be surprised as to how many people do not go out of their way to be likable. It sounds easy but probably not for everyone. For me, it’s easy to be friendly and attentive to people. I also do my best to remember names. I think this is extremely important in developing relationships at work. If you go out of your way to remember their name, people will remember you.


  4. Tristan Phillips on the 21st January

    I’m confused. It sounds like you rate “likable” (IOW what YOU feel is likable) over whether they can do the job or not. Quote: “if there is a decision to make, the likable employee will typically be the one they will keep”. Looks like “Can they do the job” doesn’t enter the picture.

    And call it for what it is: What YOU think is likable. Different people have different standards and what one person considers friendly others may find too pushy or too distant.

    Thank God you’re not a boss at my employer. Having such a subjective qualification as the make or break portion of your subordinates would make the work environment hell for everyone.

    • Joel Falconer on the 21st January

      What makes you think these are the qualities Bob would look for if he was hiring? This isn’t a management and hiring article. These are tips that will help you advance in your new workplace, and being likable is simply part of how that game is played–even if that means your manager is misguided, and let’s be honest, many of them are.

    • Bob Bessette on the 21st January

      Hi Tristan,
      Maybe I should’ve been clearer. Of course, being able to do the job is numero uno in my book. I probably should’ve prefaced the comment by “All things being equal”, the likable employee will typically be the one they will keep. Sorry for any confusion.
      I think you are taking the term “likable” a bit too personal. All I was getting at was for a brand new employee to be personable to fellow co-workers. I wasn’t using it as a sole requirement for hiring and firing. All I meant is that it could factor in should a situation arise where someone of equal knowledge and capabilities is being considered for a layoff. That is all…


    • Anon on the 3rd July

      You apparently have not had exposure to the job market recently.
      Trust me, Knowing someone and having a good rapport (in terms of communication/personality) have a much larger impact than everyday performance; if your job is on the line.

      Also, your post shows a lot of animosity towards the writer…. why? because he told you being like-able at a new job is a good thing? If that’s not common sense I don’t know what is…. His article is directed towards someone who has ALREADY been hired. The boss probably hired you based on his assumptions that you can already complete the job requirements. Your “Can they do the job” remark is criteria that has already been met in the bosses eyes, prior to receiving the job offer.

      You probably should have stopped writing your comment after the words; Quote: ‘I’m confused’.

  5. CLulu on the 21st January

    I think the 5th point is a bit hard. Only one company actually had a thorough org chart that showed how any employee was connected to the CEO.

    A lot of companies today do not have company wide org charts to reduce the stigma of being a revolving door. Also, not having such an org chart reduces the likelihood of key employees being hounded for information from news outlets.

    The last two companies I was with (both high profile media companies) had no such org chart available.

    I would suggest becoming acquainted with employees that have been w/the company for several years or more. Why? They can give important background information such as:how other employees advanced in the company, dept. history, etc.

    • Bob Bessette on the 21st January

      Hi CLulu,
      This is a good point but I’ve never worked for a company that didn’t have an org chart available for a new employee. It’s a shame that those two companies did not have this accessible especially for a new employee. Thanks for pointing that out, by the way.
      I think your point about becoming acquainted with another employee which I touch on in #5, makes a lot of sense. By helping out other employees, if at all possible, you may be able to learn a lot about other employees and the company, in general.
      Thanks for commenting.


  6. Alex on the 21st January

    Great post Bob! These tips are especially useful in temp to hire scenarios where fitting in well and making friends could mean the difference between a permanent position and looking for a job again. The more that you seem like a part of the team, the greater the chance that you will get the permanent placement offer.

    • Bob Bessette on the 21st January

      Thanks Alex. You certainly understood what I was getting at with the Be Likable point. I can see, as you so aptly point out, that this is especially important in temp to perm situations. I never underestimate the likability factor..:-)


  7. Victor on the 21st January

    My first day at work was this monday (@ BASF / Advertising).
    Thank you for reminding me!
    I really need to work on my “name remembering” skills!

    • Bob Bessette on the 21st January

      This is one thing I have done a pretty good job of over the years. Remember someone’s name and you are immediately showing respect to that co-worker. This is very important in a working situation apart from the fact that is is good etiquette.
      Good luck with the new job and congratulations!


  8. Felipe on the 22nd January

    You nailed it. I particularly liked the part when you suggest making eye contact with everyone and just saying “hi”. I try to join guys from different departments to know each other better. Quickly making rapport does help when the honeymoon is over and is time to bring in ideas that might make you the least popular guy.

  9. Bob Bessette on the 22nd January

    Thanks Felipe. You are smart if you are being likable especially at the start of your employment. It will help you in the long haul.


  10. K on the 14th April

    Hi, read over some of the comments and totally agree with friendly.
    However it’s hard to find the boundaries sometimes. Especially,
    when you need the job and you end up trying too hard and mess up.

    • Bob Bessette on the 11th July

      Hi K,
      Being friendly is so easy to do but I know some new employees who simply aren’t. It is hard for me to believe that people, especially new employees, don’t make an effort to be friendly. It’s the best way to get off on the right foot. Thanks so much for commenting.

      Bob Bessette

  11. Jan on the 11th July

    Good post. It’s helpful to me. Would be more wonderful if you could write about specific work situations like how to build relationships with coworkers, how to excel at work without turning off your coworkers, etc.

  12. Bob Bessette on the 12th July

    Hi Jan,
    Thanks for the advice. I agree that building relationships is extremely important but the tips included in this article help to build those relationships. You have some very good suggestions. Thanks for your comment.

    Bob Bessette

  13. Tammy on the 13th September

    I worked at the same company for 20 years. I’ve witnessed numerous new employees adjust to their new environment. Your advice is excellent!

    I am hunting for a new job and am close to an offer. I started thinking about how I would adjust to a new environment; new cliques, new organizational landscape, new culture, etc.

    I went searching for some advice and found your blog post. I want to thank you for the advice. Do you have any tips about how to figure out who the “go-to” people are in a new environment? Also, if you get the job over a current employee that applied for the position AND that person will report to you – any advice how to interact with that individual?

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