• Matt Black

Little Fish, Big Sea: 3 Ways to Demonstrate Value in the Workplace from Day One

So you’re the new kid in town, eh? Fresh out of school, ready to start your adventures in Career Land?

Equal parts thrill and terror for some, starting a new job in the professional world can be a real roller coaster ride.

With any luck, you were escorted to your new desk to find a shiny MacBook, company-branded swag bag and lots of big smiles and handshakes awaiting your arrival.

And even if you weren’t, you’ve clearly found the right company to get things started with.

That’s why you applied there, right?

One thing’s for sure – you want to demonstrate to your new employer that they made a smart choice.

But how?

You’re a stranger to these people. You’ve got no track record. You’re feeling lucky that your ID badge even lets you in the front door. As far as you know, you’ll be eating lunch alone for the next few weeks – if you even take one (show off!).

Here are three ways that you can prove yourself early and often:

Be curious

Asking a million questions on day one seems like natural advice – and it is, in most cases.

But what kinds of questions are you asking your new colleagues and manager?

Are they rudimentary and questions just for questions sake? Or do they show that your brain is already working overtime on how you’re going to make an impact?

Demonstrate curiosity in why things are the way they are for your new company. Probe (without being rude or over-the-top) on how a process came to be or dig deeper on your new colleagues’ roles and how they ladder up to company objectives.

To create value right off the bat, try to demonstrate your eagerness through intellect. Show anybody and everybody that you don’t settle for the humdrum – and never will.

Good questions lead to great conversations.

Think “Yes” – on most things Staying late, grabbing your new team coffee, volunteering to step up and tackle some of the less-popular tasks around the office… these are all fairly standard realities for most that set out in the corporate working world.

But it’s okay to establish a healthy work-life balance early on in your tenure.

If, of course, that’s what you want.

Some people are perfectly fine being at the office for 14 hours a day (6 or more unpaid, in certain cases)… but if that’s not you (pro tip: it shouldn’t be!) then don’t set the expectation that you’re going to be there at a moment’s notice.

There’s a difference between being eager to please and happy to help vs. sacrificing yourself because others don’t want to contribute or can’t be bothered to complete the tasks that are “beneath them.”

Choose wisely – your career is important… but so are your family, physical health and mental well-being.

Overdeliver on everything When you do put your hand up and take ownership over something – anything – at work, give it 150% of your attention and effort.

Leave no stone unturned when it comes to putting every ounce of your ideas and energy into getting things right the first time. Even for a simple task that doesn’t seem like much… these are your opportunities to shine and demonstrate a keen sense of your own abilities and how they can help the company.

I once had a part-time employee offer to help me with a completely menial task as I prepared something for my team. Not only did she do it with a smile on her face and a patience I had never encountered, she also quickly realized how to relay the information in an order that made it easier for me as I copied it down into a spreadsheet (told you – really boring stuff).

But these are the little details that stick with an employer. They mean something, even if on the face they seem inconsequential.

The smallest touch can make a world of difference as you build your reputation and relationships around the office.

Of course, there’s many more ways to impress as you carve out the first few weeks and months of your working life. But these three tenets are timeless in their ability to sway people’s opinions about you and help you establish yourself as a valuable member of the team.

How do you plan on making your mark early in your first “real” job? What other ways do you think might impress a new employer from the outset? Please share your thoughts with me in the Comment section below.


©2020 by Matt Black Ink | All rights reserved | Toronto