Recent Grads: 19 Great Tips for Your First Month at a New Job

According to recent Census figures, young people were the biggest losers in the recent recession. Employment among 16-to-29 year-olds fell from 67.3 percent in 2000 to just 55.3 percent in 2009. If you're fortunate enough to score a gig, you'll want to kick butt and take names ASAP, in order to keep your job and move up quickly.

Here are 19 tips from career experts for your first days and months on the job. Practice one a day, and you'll be that much closer to job security and success.

1. Don't Panic... Like the Grateful Dead sang, the first day are the hardest days -- and they'll pass. "Even though that first month can (and usually does) seem overwhelming, it's important that you keep things in perspective," says career coach Shawn Graham. "You're generally not going to be expected to have a firm grasp of everything right away."

2. ...But Do Ask Questions Clarify early and often when you have a grace period at the beginning. "When you're new, you're expected to ask a lot of questions. After all, how else are you going to learn?" says Anthony Morrison, Vice President at Cachinko, a recruiting and consulting firm.

3. Be a Know It All Be informed, and add to the conversation. "Read the key major newspapers and be sure to stay up on the news -- both current events and what's happening in the industry," says Meryl Weinsaft Cooper, co-author of Be Your Own Best Publicist: How to Use PR Techniques to Get Hired, Noticed, and Rewarded at Work. Then you can feel confident chatting intelligently with your colleagues, clients, and CEO.

4. Learn To Listen While asking questions is important, so is listening to what is said. "Every day, take copious notes during all conversations. At the end of the day, review the notes and highlight the key messages from each. Before leaving, create a list of follow-up questions, things to research, and possible next steps that you can take (or support)," says Weinsaft Cooper.

5. Prepare Your Message Speaking in front of higher-ups in a meeting can be intimidating, but you can make things easier on yourself by preparing personal Cliff Notes. "Before walking into any meeting/conversation/event, take a minute to write down two to three messages that you want to communicate," says Weinsaft Cooper.

6. Be Generous Give your time and effort. "If you see someone on your team who is obviously slammed, ask them if you may help them in any way," says career coach Jenny Foss, founder of JobJenny.

7. Watch The Clock Be there before -- and leave after -- your manager. "Arrive early and stay late," says Hillary O'Keefe of recruiting firm Onward Search. "The extra hours will not only make a good impression, but you'll be exposed to the full spectrum of your job, your coworkers, and the environment as well."

8. Know Your Company Just like asking day-to-day questions, you'll want to understand your company, culture, and where your role fits in. "You'll learn the business and your job more quickly, and be able to contribute ideas for improvement once you understand 'how things work," says Foss. You'll also learn where you want to go within the company and and how to get there.

9. Dress Like You Belong Yep, the old "dress for success" adage is still apt, but in some companies, overdressing can be as egregious as the opposite. "Aligning yourself with the broader company culture will help others feel more comfortable with you right off the bat, so if you have the choice, leave the suit at home in favor of business casual if that's what everyone else is wearing," says O'Keefe.

10. Read Every Email You'll probably be getting a lot of mass emails about everything from benefits information to bagels in the break-room. Even if it takes you some extra time, make sure to read all of them carefully. "Consuming information is more than just reading or watching the news, or keeping up with social media and other third-party updates. You never want to skip over an important [detail] that could impact your work," says Samantha Zuppan of GlassDoor.com.

Next: 9 More Tips for Your First Month

11. Be Friendly If you want to make yourself indispensable, putting a face to your emails is important. "People need to know who you are quickly," says management psychologist Karissa Thacker, Ph.D. "Take initiative and introduce yourself to three people every day. Eat in the cafeteria or where people gather."

12. Bribe People Nope, not with money -- but you can gain a lot of favor through cupcakes or donuts. "Buy a box of Dunkin Munchkins for your desk. This less than $10 investment will win you lots of new friends who 'come over to meet you,' similar to how your kids want to 'meet the neighbors' who are giving them candy on Halloween," says recruiter Abby Kohut.

13. Give Your Boss What She Wants... For instance, how does she like to communicate? "Some people still like the phone and many bosses prefer face to face until they get comfortable with you," says Thacker.

14. ...And Avoid Doing What She Hates For some bosses, this might mean creating extensive memos when you're proposing an idea. Others might prefer to brainstorm over coffee. If you keep your ears and eyes open, you'll figure out the preferred protocol quickly.

15. Scout Out After-Work Events After long days learning (and even packing homework for later), the last thing you might want to do is head to Happy Hour. But it's crucial, says Rich DeMatteo, Co-Founder of Bad Rhino, a social media marketing firm, and blogger at Corn on the Job. "Avoiding too many events when you first start could have others thinking you either don't like them or simply don't want to get involved," says DeMatteo. If you're not invited or your team doesn't seem to socialize much, consider planning your own small after-work event.

16. Stay Focused on Today Yes, you want to consider your future, where you fit in at the company, and what your next move will be. But make sure you don't lose track of what is in front of you each day. In other words: "Don't be so focused on the big picture or the next job that you forget to do your current one well," says Clinical Professor John Millikin of the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

17. Say Thanks It takes a village for anyone to learn to do their job well, so be sure to show gratitude. "At the end of your first month, set aside a moment to hand-write a quick thank-you note to each person who has made a difference in your transition," says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs. "It's a wonderful way to show gratitude and to be remembered by your new coworkers as a considerate person."

18. Don't Take Time Off Your first days and weeks at a new job are not the time to take a personal day, let alone a two-week trip to New Zealand. "If the boss thinks you are not committed, then that is the impression you will create in the first month," says career coach David Couper. "If you had time away planned it's better to start your new job after you return."

19. Do Great Work All these little tricks and tips will help you, but the most important thing is to do a fantastic job. "When possible, try to deliver 101 percent on every new task you are assigned. Get a project done a little early, go the extra mile, and anticipate a need that your boss didn't think of, etc.," says J.T. O'Donnell, CEO of CareerHMO.com. The result: "When we go slightly above and beyond, we show we want to be a strong contributor without looking like a brown-noser."

What are your best tips for young grads at a new job? Please share in the comments below.
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