5 Mistakes Newbies Make on the Job and How to Avoid Them

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Your first few days at a new place of employment, you're going to be nervous. Unfortunately, your nerves could make you do things that give your co-workers the wrong impression.


Here's how to sidestep those pitfalls and set yourself up for success.


1. Not asking enough questions.

Some people think it's a sign of failure to admit they don't understand something. So they take a guess and often end up with an even bigger fail. Your trainer, supervisor and teammates all want you to succeed at your new tasks, because it will help them succeed, too. So please, speak up if you need further explanation or you feel like important information was not covered during your onboarding.


Then there are the people who don't ask questions because they think they already know everything that's being discussed. It's true you may know some of it, but things may be done a bit differently by this company or this boss. So, listen carefully! (Anyway, nobody likes a know-it-all attitude.)


2. Not showing up prepared.

You were probably given a list of things to bring to your first day on the job, such as paperwork. There may be a dress code you need to follow, either for professional or safety requirements. Also think about what personal comforts you'll want, such as a bottle of water or a packed lunch. Double-check that you arrive with all the essentials for a successful day's work.


Being prepared also means knowing how to get there on time. Practice the commute in advance to see how long it takes. Aim to arrive 15 minutes early to allow for traffic jams or other snafus.


3. Not making friends/connections.

It's normal to feel shy when you're thrown in with a bunch of strangers. But it's super important to give out a friendly vibe right from day one. You don't have to share your life story — simply smiling and saying hi to the people around you will make a good impression.


Your work friends will be your support system (and you will be theirs) throughout your time at that job, and maybe long after. Make them part of your professional network, because they may be able to help your career in the future in ways you can't imagine now.


4. Not taking the initiative.

Now is the time when going the extra mile can earn you a long-lasting reputation for being a quality contributor to the team effort. Ask your supervisor or co-workers if there are any additional ways you can help (after your assigned work is completed, of course).


However, be careful with suggesting improvements to the established work processes. You may be stepping on the toes of the people who created those processes; and for all you know, your suggestion has already been tried and failed. Wait till you've been there a while and really know the history and power structure of the company.


5. Doing the bare minimum.

As a new employee, you naturally don't want to risk making mistakes through ignorance. You think that the less you do, the less room there will be for error. The downside of this reasoning is that it creates a new problem — co-workers will see you as a slacker. And that image is very hard to get rid of, especially with people who don't know you outside of this workplace.


You can't go far wrong if you follow directions completely and correctly. (At least, if there is a problem, the fault will be with the directions, not with you.) And you will make that great first impression of being a conscientious worker.


As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Use these tips to avoid the most common newbie mistakes, and reap the rewards of your success on the job!


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