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Maxing Workplace Opportunities – Making an Impression

It’s August and it’s the last week of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the largest arts festival in the world.

The Fringe’s open access policy means means aspiring artists can be billed with some of the biggest names in the business, making it the ultimate way for wannabes to prove their metal and make their mark.

Suitably inspired by the pluck and determination performers show in getting up, doing their turn and being judged in public, we asked our consultants for some top tips on making the most of new opportunities in the workplace.

So, this Q & Angel we find out how to shine, not flop, in a new role.

1. What’s your number one tip for making a positive career impression?

Start as you mean to go on – whether that’s getting to an interview early and dressed to impress – ie, smart and appropriate to the business – or turning up to a new job punctually, dressed to impress AND learning your colleagues’ names.

2. So, it’s important to start building relationships immediately?

Yep, essentially the workplace is all about relationships: from your ability to work in a team, your impact on clients and the perception your boss has of you.

As a new kid on the block you need to make the most of opportunities to get to know colleagues. Tweet: As a new kid on the block you need to make the most of opportunities to get to know colleagues. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK
Hopefully your new employer will set up an induction programme which will include meetings with key staff. If they don’t, do it yourself. Set up short meetings and find out what colleagues do and how your role fits in with theirs.

3. You need to exude confidence then?

Well, it helps to remember everyone’s been in the same boat. And, although you may feel a little self-conscious, often so do others.

Lauren Berger author of Welcome to the Real World: Finding Your Place, Perfecting Your Work, and Turning Your Job Into Your Dream Career says that confidence “comes from constantly putting yourself out there, failing, and then watching things eventually work themselves out.”

But don’t be arrogant about it.

4. You mean put yourself out there with consideration?

Yes. Make sure you’ve done your company research. Know the company structure, its key departments and its services or products, and its aims for the future.

Not only does this show initiative but it gives you something to talk with your colleagues about.

On the whole people are happy to share information about their work. Plus you’ll be learning more about company and hopefully its culture.

5. Is workplace culture important to get a handle on then?

Well, hiring for fit as well as credentials is often key to successful recruitment. Hopefully you’ve been recruited partly because you’ll fit in with the organisation’s modus operandi – certainly we at Angel advocate that.

However it’s important to check out how your colleagues communicate, how decisions are made and even how the tea round works, for example, and behave accordingly.

Don’t be tempted to say things like: “In my last job we did it like this…”. Be receptive and ask questions.

6. So it’s better to ask questions rather than just get on with it?

While it’s important to show a certain amount of initiative never assume something or carry on in confusion.

Your firm may have allocated you a kind of induction support person who will expect questions, however, if not, don’t be afraid to ask – just make sure you aim to ask the right person at the right time. Tweet: Don’t be afraid to ask – just make sure you aim to ask the right person at the right time. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK

​7. What if the role seems different than expected?

Often we think we’re ready to bite off more than we can chew. It’s better to get your bearings in a role and then take on more responsibility as you get more experienced.

If the role as has been oversold this is one thing, but on the whole now’s your chance to show that you can follow instruction and integrate well.

If you’re ambitious, good, but don’t jump the gun. A good way to show you’re keen without seeming pushy is to ask for feedback.Tweet: A good way to show you’re keen without seeming pushy is to ask for feedback. #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK

​8. You mean volunteer for an appraisal?!

Well informal feedback, yes. Asking for feedback shows initiative and a willingness to learn, plus you get to snip any problems in the bud.Tweet: Asking for feedback shows a willingness to learn, plus you get to snip any problems in the bud #QAngel @Angel_HR_UK
If your loud talking is disrupting the office, your approach to email is a bit too informal, or your non-tea-making attitude is causing resentment you get to know about it and act on it.

9. It takes a while to get up to speed in a role. How should we maximise our productivity?

In short, make a plan. There are workplace objectives and KPIs you will be able to measure yourself against, but it’s also important to have in mind your own goals.

If you’re keen to work your way up in the business, or sector, you need to make the most of this current position and ensure you’re getting all the training and experience you need to take you to the next level.

We’ve mentioned taking the SMART approach to goals before.

Or look at David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done) approach which aims to promote clarity and productivity – see his 5 step process outlined here.

10. Any last words on making an impression at work?

Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.

Whether that’s making the tea, joining the firm sports team or charity events, or simply sticking your hand up and offering to take on a particular work task volunteering gets you noticed for the right reasons.

Now over to you:

Have any thoughts on what you’ve read? Are you searching for a new job? Want to ask about making a great impression? Got any burning questions we could put to future Q & Angel guests? As ever, we want to hear what you’ve got to say!

Some next steps:

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