Published by: Bizcommunity - 2009


New job etiquette guide

Changing jobs and settling into a new position can be a stressful experience and one of the hardest parts of moving up the corporate ladder. The transition from a familiar role to new unchartered territories may be unsettling but here are a few basics that will make the process easier.

Look like you mean business: People will take you seriously if you look professional, so dress the part. The way you groom yourself can be seen as a reflection of your work style. Being well-groomed is often associated with attention to detail and efficiency, while a shabby appearance can be interpreted as the opposite.

Get acquainted: Don't be shy - make a point of engaging with your co-workers while you find your feet. Be polite and friendly to everyone, from the tea lady to the boss.

Mind your words: Keep away from office gossip and make your own judgments based on your interaction with colleagues.

Don't try to change things immediately: People are often afraid of change, and may be wary of a newcomer who demands too many changes too soon. Bide your time, listen and observe. Be sensitive and strategic about any changes you intend to make.

Talk less, listen more: Nobody likes a "know-it-all". Being a good listener helps you learn and absorb faster. Moreover, real listening will help you identify where you might need to adapt, whether in your own work area or others.

Ask questions: It's okay to ask for help. You're not expected to know everything your first day on the job.

Get organised: Develop a system to keep track of all assignments, meetings, projects etc. Keep yourself on top of your work at all times. Use a diary or a checklist to remind yourself of all that needs to be done. Set weekly goals for yourself and make sure you achieve them.

Stick your hand up: Be proactive, take initiative and get involved - don't sit on your hands watching your colleagues do all the work, even if everything is new, offer to help. Your colleagues will appreciate your effort and willingness to learn.

Make the effort: A new job often comes with a steep learning curve; expect the first three months to be tough, come in early and leave a little later if necessary to get the job done. It shows your flexibility and dedication to learning a new craft.

Say 'thank you': Take time to acknowledge co-workers who assisted you during your first few confusing weeks.

[13 Jan 2009 09:27]

About the author

Madge Gibson is a partner at leading executive search firm Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters ( With a BA (Hons), MDP, Madge originally trained as a reporter in the business information sector and spent several years in London working within financial services, corporate finance and M&A. She maintains a broad network and has been responsible for the successful placement of several senior executives in South Africa. In addition to this, Madge also studied business management at the University of Stellenbosch, and holds qualifications in marketing.