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Five Tips to Onboard into Your New Job with Ease

 Job hunting can often be a whirlwind of emotions with countless applications and hours spent on research, interview preparation, and waiting for feedback. Nonetheless, after all of that, the excitement is palpable when you finally secure a new job offer. As the countdown to your first day begins, nervousness can start to creep in as you are about start a new chapter of your career.

Feeling the nerves? You are not alone

If you feel excited about starting a new job, but are having butterflies in your stomach, rest assured that you are not alone. A Monster study reveals that 87% of people experience anxiety while onboarding into their new job.

On one hand, a new job marks a fresh beginning – with optimism towards better prospects, benefits, and career progression. On the other hand, it can be daunting as you are stepping into unknown territory, having to integrate into an unfamiliar environment, work culture, and team. Expectations and reality can often be poles apart, which can make it difficult for new employees to come in and hit the ground running.

Contrary to popular belief, your onboarding period is not about ‘faking it till you make it’. There is a proper art, and arguably more science, to onboarding effectively into a new job. While your new employer is expected to prepare an onboarding program to get you up to speed, the onus is on you to be equipped with the right mindset, skillset, and resources to navigate the initial challenges and set yourself up for success. You need to own your onboarding process and be prepared to go the extra mile.

Here are five tips that can help you smoothly onboard into your new job:

1. The Halo effect – build a positive first impression

Whether we like it or not, most people end up judging a book by its cover. When you meet someone for the first time, your first five seconds of interaction can already determine how the other person perceives you and is likely to treat you in the future – which, in scientific terms, is called the Halo effect. As first impressions last, you need to be mindful when you introduce yourself to your manager, co-workers, and other stakeholders in your new workplace. Simple things like exchanging pleasantries, sharing appreciation, or just showing up with a smile in your daily meetings can be instrumental in building a positive and endearing personal brand.

2. Understand expectations and define your onboarding plan with your manager

Expectation mismatch is often the biggest deal-breaker when it comes to the onboarding phase. One of the most important keys to success is to sit down with your manager on your first day and clearly exchange expectations. Understanding why you have been hired into your new role and the defining ‘what great looks like’ can help you remove assumptions and create alignment. Having an honest conversation upfront about how you can best work together can prevent unnecessary misunderstandings and conflicts further down the line.

Apart from communicating expectations, use your one-on-one touchpoints with your manager to go through your onboarding plan and identify the gaps between “what you have currently” and “what you need to have” to ace your new role. Come up with action steps to bridge these gaps. It is important that you make peace with the fact that sometimes the onboarding process can be messy and not as meticulously planned as you may have expected. Rather than waiting passively for your manager and co-workers, the onus is on you to take the initiative. Remember, you are in the driver’s seat, not that of the passenger.

3. Be curious to learn, ask questions, and contribute

When you onboard into your new job, there is bound to be a lot that you don’t know. You also don’t know what you don’t know. It is important to avoid imposter syndrome and have an open mindset to learn and absorb new knowledge. Not everything will be served to you on a platter, so you need to proactively figure things out and not be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance when you get stuck. During your onboarding period, there may similarities but also a ton of differences between how things function in your new team compared to your previous one. Be prepared to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Curiosity and the ability to ask good questions are often underrated but powerful skills that distinguish great hires from average ones.

If you feel guilty of taking up a co-worker’s time by asking them questions or requesting help, remember that they too were once in your place, and they had someone else to help them out. Now, it is their turn to pay it forward, just like you will eventually. Open-mindedness and the humility to learn will be pivotal to your success, not just during your onboarding but throughout your tenure.

4. Engage proactively and build strong interpersonal relationships

When stepping into an unfamiliar environment with new people, processes, and projects, you may be more reserved than usual. However, it is important that you put yourself out there, remove pre-conceived notions, and build trustworthy allies. It is important to have a good support system and mentors who can provide you with the right advice, drawing from their experience and expertise. Although, it can feel intimidating at first, try your best to engage with new people and initiate conversations to understand them and vice versa. When you build meaningful connections with your co-workers, it will help you integrate faster into the team, and add a human touch to your work. Lunches and coffees are great initial touchpoints to have authentic conversations and gradually build strong interpersonal relationships.

5. Build an operating rhythm that works best for you

Remember that when you start a new job, you are not running in a sprint race, but rather a marathon. As much as it is about going fast, it is more important to focus on going far. Developing effective habits, routines, systems and an overall operating rhythm that brings the best out of you are fundamental to your success. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each employee is different – their needs, ways of learning, working styles, and thought processes are unique. Figure out what works for you, and don’t be afraid to pivot when necessary. The goal is to walk out of your onboarding with all pistons firing, having everything in your toolbox to succeed.

It is important to be mentally prepared that not everything will go according to plan when you start a new job. There will be several bumps along the way. Whenever you feel confused or overwhelmed, take a step back and reassure yourself that it will take time to get a better grasp of things. Ask for help, particularly from allies. Mistakes will happen, but what matters is your ability to learn from them and not repeat them.

Although onboarding into a new job can often feel a rollercoaster ride, it is important that you trust the process and back yourself to navigate through the initial twists and turns. Embrace the discomfort, stay resilient through the steep learning curve, and create a foundation for long-term success. Ultimately, this is what makes the journey worthwhile.