How To Be Liked When You’re The New Kid On the Job

2010 May 25
by Grace Boyle

Note: Recently, I received a search in my Lijit stats stating, “I newly started at an ad agency how to improve and interact with the people give me some ideas.” No really, that’s a word-for-word search on my blog. This is how your search stats uncover reader intent and are so important for any blogger. With that being said, here are some ideas (whoever you are, who is looking to improve and interact when you’re new on the job).

You know the feeling – you’ve stressed about your first-day-on-the-job outfit for a week, your friends and family have had enough of your pre-job anxiety texts, your palms are sweaty and when you finally walk through the door on the first day of your new job, your heart is beating out of your chest.

Making a first impression is key. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobs held by individuals with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher is 11.1 – creating likeability on the job, isn’t a one time deal.

One of our outings at the racetrack

Here’s how I’ve learned to be liked and stay on point, when I’ve been the new kid on the job:

Immediate Initiative: Depending on the size of your company, take time to introduce yourself to each co-worker in person or at least those you will be working with directly. This isn’t the time to be shy.

Pay attention to your company’s culture – you could bring in fresh baked cookies for your team (one of our recent hires actually did this on his job interview) or beer for Friday’s work happy hour.

Confident initiative goes a long way. A poll compiled by LinkedIn asking, “what helps you climb the corporate ladder faster?” showed 60% was confidence and 28% was being “well-liked.”

-Reach out: Ask your team to lunch on your own accord. Focus on getting to know each of them to establish respect and learn how they operate.  I encourage connections to establish rapport and respect.

At Lijit, we hired a girl to join our team and I was training her. Within the first week, she took me out to lunch. She asked me questions about the company, her position, and how she could grow with the company. Our conversation was candid and the one-on-one interaction was beneficial. I respected her immediately for taking the initiative and showing she cared. She’s now a close friend and is still at the company.

Show up earlier than everyone else: Put in your time, it will be noticed.

-Keep Track of Your Goals: Remember why you started this position and what you’re capable of. Depending on your management’s involvement be sure you understand what is expected of you, ask questions, stay focused and track all your goals and progress. I keep documents and spreadsheets, organized by each quarter and year.

Ask for weekly one-on-one’s with your direct manager and set up a six month review to check in with your manager to portray the work you’ve completed and how you have contributed.

Know What Your Boss Expects and Needs: Understanding the way your boss thinks and operates is important. Do they like reports? Are they more focused at a high-level or are they detail oriented? How do they obtain information? Finding out these quirks and business needs, will help both of you progress.

I have even learned to sway the way I communicate with my boss because at times (when I’m multitasking on multiple projects) I appear vague and on my own wavelength, so I preface whatever I’m about to tell him with context and background even if it may seem blatantly obvious. It’s an inside joke we have, but it helps us both.

Ask Questions, Be Clear: There’s nothing worse than taking on a project, but not understanding what is needed or how to accomplish it.

Entrepreneur and CEO, Janine Popick, encourages the notion that “the truth doesn’t hurt.” With her employees she says, “if we don’t know the answer to a question, I encourage people to say, ‘I don’t know, but let me found out and get back to you with an answer.’ There is no value in dancing around something that isn’t true just to look good, because in the long run, if you’re wrong, you just look bad.”

It’s Up To You…

Some of these steps helped me propel forward as a new kid on the job but it doesn’t come without a little work and care because “the people who are likeable actually care about other people and care about the connections they make,” says Executive coach, Susan Hodgkinson.

As Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion” and “Influence: Science and Practice,” says, “Likeability is a matter of intention and behavior rather than of personality and chance. To become more likeable, find similarities and then raise them to the surface. If you can find something that you truly like and respect about a person, then that person will naturally like and respect you.”

What are some ways you have successfully jumped into a new work atmosphere? What challenges do you face?

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  • Ginger Pelz

    Fantastic post, Grace. As usual, you make fantastic points! As someone who just started her third week on a new job, these all hit home with me right now. I still have some of this housekeeping to take care of (setting up that 6 month review!), but I think I need to bring in cookies as soon as possible.


  • Grace Boyle

    @Ginger Thanks, dear! It's so funny HOW FAR cookies can go. It just means you care and it shows a little about your personality. I mean really, who dislikes cookies? Or any baked goods that is?

    I also really liked the time Erica started at Lijit and she asked me out (her direct trainer) to lunch, 'offline' and invited me on her own accord. It meant a lot to both of us on either end.

  • Laurie Steiner

    Another fabulous post by Grace Boyle.

    It's true that jumping into a new position can be nerve-wracking and sometimes even scary–and you bring up some key points and tips to making the process easier and less stressful. I too (like Ginger) need to make that 6-month review a priority. While we get annual reviews, this is a good way to check in. And yes, baked goods ALWAYS help :)

  • Royce

    Grace, you know I heart you. But I have a formatting complaint.

    The actual suggestions in the gray boxes don't need to be in italics, do they? I find italics annoying and difficult to read for some reason. That totally could have done without and still been impactful and eye-catching. Just a suggestion.

    As for the actual content I really enjoyed it. I may have need of the advice soon… (dramatic foreshadowing)

  • Grace Boyle

    @Royce Love complaints of any kind :)

    Just as an FYI, that's actually a WordPress formatting that is out of my control. It isn't italicized when I'm editing and creating the post :( so I didn't want it italicized either but I wanted them as “quotes” (the feature in WP).

    I'll look into it, wonder why it does that…hmmm.

    Other than that, oh thank you sir :)

  • Dmbosstone

    Oh a perfectly timed article- a month into a new job! Thanks for the advice!

  • Rachel Vincent

    I would add to this to take initiative to solve problems. I'm always impressed by new hires think of solutions that would improve a situation, fix a problem, or make work more efficient (sticking to what they are responsible for, of course, and not immediately criticizing those around them and the company at large).

    I like to work with people who not only take the work assigned to them and do it to completion, but who take that work and make it their own…improving it along the way. They inspire me and make the company better, which makes me happy.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Laurie Thanks! It's funny how little the 6 month or even annual review comes up – being proactive means a lot and I have yet to find a manager who doesn't appreciate me being proactive. It should help BOTH parties if done correctly.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Dmbosstone Awesome! Timely indeed – I'm glad you think it helped. You should definitely write a follow up post with what you do and learn your first few months on the job!

  • David

    Can I add 2 other things?

    1. Don't get romantically or sexually involved with your co-workers! Keep business and pleasure seperate, AKA the workplace is not your dating pool. So even if your cube mate is a hottie, resist the urge to ask them out.

    2. Don't get drunk at office parties! Just trust me on this. The first year I started working in the “real world” my co-worker/buddy got sooo drunk at our Christmas Party that he was actually wearing a fish bowl on his head! No joke.

  • Grace Boyle

    @Rachel Great point! Someone with initiative and a problem solver is invaluable to any company – they present their ideas that are fresh and look to improve the company as a whole. Thanks for sharing, Rachel.

  • Grace Boyle

    @David Re: point 1. Ah yes, how could I forget this one 😉 I'm all too familiar.

    I also like that you take these two very real life situations (that happen ALL the time) and from experience, it's important to not fish off the company pier and also get a little too outta control at company parties. Yikes, I've seen it happen and although it's funny, they feel a bit embarrassed the next morning and doesn't set a good example.

  • David

    You know else I should have added?

    3. Don’t talk bad about your employer! Whether you’re gossiping in the office to co-workers, or on the phone/over e-mail with friends and family, don’t talk shit on your boss! Chances are they WILL overhear it and it WILL come back to haunt you. And the dumbest – resist blabbing on the Internet! Tweeting, blogging and posting nasty Facebook status updates about how much your boss or your job sucks monkey balls is going to land you in hot water and turn you 5 shades of burgundy. Plus, you just gave your employer written proof of your disgruntle behavior which is much harder to deny or excuse as opposed to hearsay.

    (Like the monkey reference I threw it for you, Gracie?)

  • Grace Boyle

    @David YES to monkey references 😉

    Are you speaking from experience as a boss?

    I think it's really immature and not professional to talk shit within the office/employers about your boss. Outside of the office and to your close friends you're allowed to say whatever you want, but be careful about who you tell. Always. You're smart:)

  • David

    No, thankfully! I'm the World's #1 Boss (I have a mug to prove it)! So none of my employees ever say shit about me. Ha. Well, at least not in ear range.

    But I was mostly talking from my own experience (as an employee) when I first started working. A co-worker and I used to joke about how odd our boss walked and went as far as imitating him the one day AT WORK! Of course we learned our lesson when we turned the corner and actually ran into him – catching us in the act. Sooo embarrassing. I wanted to die! It was my own stupid, immature fault though.

  • Marian Schembari

    One of my favorite ways to break the ice on a new job is to be really really ridiculously honest. My first day on a job I told my coworkers “Crap. I hate being the new kid.” It totally broke the ice and they all made a really sweet effort to include me so I didn't feel so awkward.

    I LOVE this post, btw 😉

  • Grace Boyle

    @Marian Thank you, I love hearing feedback and I'm happy to hear you enjoyed the post!

    Great point about being honest – I should have mentioned that for sure. Honesty and being real let's people understand, “Oh wait, you're human too.” It seems silly, but we're more alike than we give ourselves credit for. Finding that sense of affinity can be your immediate in to a company.

  • Laura Kimball

    Hi Grace,

    Awesome tips. I like that how you made the connection between being “liked” and “confidence” in your first point. This post isn't so much about earning friends but about putting yourself out there and being present in your job. How else will you stand out and be more than just a worker bee?

  • Grace Boyle

    @Lauren You're totally right and I'm glad you found that I tried to make the distinction between becoming friends with everyone, confidence and actually performing to the highest distinction. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Jayboyle

    great advice for new kids on the block of all ages.

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