Starting a New Job: 5 Essential Qualities

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I’m back! The last three months have been non-stop craziness at work, including traveling to Austin for three weeks, learning to adapt to a new schedule, and building the endurance needed to survive (and thrive in!) 60+ hour workweeks.

I can confidently say that I have learned a lot about myself, my new company, and the business world as a whole. I am so grateful for the experience. As a close friend reminded me, “Experiences, whether good or bad, are always important.” This sentiment helped me get through a few of the tough weeks in the middle of busy season when there seemed to be no end in sight. Looking back on those tough weeks, I learned invaluable lessons.

Today, I want to share with you some of these lessons from the past few months. Whether you work in a team or with customers, focusing on developing these qualities can help you create and cultivate strong bonds with co-workers and clients. I hope that this list will inspire you to find little ways to improve both professionally and personally!

5 Essential Characteristics For Starting a New Job

  1. Willingness to learn: When starting a job, new hires are not expected to master industry skills or company culture day one, but willingness to learn and absorb as much as possible is appreciated and valued. This shows the company that you have the drive to become a value-adding employee from the very beginning. Willingness to learn includes staying curious about your job and company and asking questions, but it also means taking responsibility for, and learning from, mistakes.
    • Reflect: How did you react the last time someone pointed out your mistake? Did you get defensive or upset? Although it may feel like a blow to your ego at the time, accepting responsibility for your mistakes and finding ways to learn and grow from them will help you gain respect from your peers and show your willingness to improve.
  2. Patience: All jobs come with the expectation of a learning curve. Whether it’s learning a new trade, the company culture, or essential soft skills, practicing patience with others and, more importantly, yourself is important. So often we have such high expectations for ourselves that when we don’t succeed on our first attempt, we can easily become discouraged. Just remember learning can take time. Before you know it, you’ll be the new expert!
    • Reflect: Think back to that last mistake you made. Did you get upset at yourself? Did your ego berate you for your failure? Now think about how it would feel if you instead cut yourself some slack. Think about how you would feel if someone else had made the mistake? You probably would not have been as hard on them as you were on yourself. Yes, making mistakes sucks, but while you are new – take risks, make mistakes, and, most importantly, learn from them.
  3. Attitude: Especially when working closely with others or in a team setting, attitude and emotions are contagious. Embodying a positive attitude will cause others to want to work with you, and positive emotions can also improve your productivity! Sometimes you might struggle to keep a happy demeanor, especially if you’re feeling exhausted or overwhelmed. I found it helpful in those moments to excuse yourself for 5-10 minutes and take a quick walk around the block, listen to some good music, and remember that you are doing your best! Another strategy is to write down what you were happy about that day and what you are excited about tomorrow each night to help maintain a positive attitude.
    • Reflect: How did it feel when your teammates were disagreeing with each other? Was the vibe in the room caustic, negative, abrasive? A quick attitude check can turn a negative argument into a friendly debate. When you take time to listen to your coworkers before refuting their ideas, it can generate better ideas, make people happier, and increase efficiency.
  4. Adaptability: A new job means working with a new set of people. In public accounting, associates rotate teams every few weeks. Being able to adapt to a new boss, coworkers, and clients is essential for success. Take some time when you start on a new team to listen and learn. Once you are familiar with the habits, stressors, and communication-styles of your teammates, it becomes easier to meet their expectations.
    • Reflect: How long does it take you to understand how your coworkers think and work? For me, it is usually a month or two, but at my new job, I found that this time is dramatically reduced through open feedback, communication, and honesty (and maybe all of our hours together!).
  5. Self-reflection: Asking your coworkers and boss for honest and constructive feedback is just as important as taking time to evaluate your own progress. Again, as you evaluate your progress, remember to focus on areas within your control, such as your communication style and attitude. Be sure to practice patience in areas that you are still learning, such as a new computer system or industry skill. Self-reflection not only helps us improve but also keeps us humble and honest. I find it to be a great motivator as well!
    • Reflect: When is the last time you took 5-10 minutes to review your performance on a project or within a team? If you have received criticism or compliments, did you agree with them? If you felt you performed poorly, why did you feel this way? Was it a lack of resources, a negative team environment, or something within your control? Take time to think about past self-reviews when beginning a new project, and you will see a dramatic improvement in your performance and feedback.

What are some other traits that you find essential when starting a new job? What qualities do you look for in hiring a new employee? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to comment in this blog post, and please follow Sophie Explains on Facebook for new posts and updates!

Thank you again for being so patient these past few months during the mini-hiatus. Stay tuned for more soon!

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