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Quick Moves for a New Job

newjobGetting a new job is almost like going into a foreign country. There are all kinds of rules, customs, traditions, and language that abide in any new work abode.

newjobGetting a new job is almost like going into a foreign country. There are all kinds of rules, customs, traditions, and language that abide in any new work abode.

“In order to navigate the world of work you have to be prepared, not only for your work “learning curve” to increase, but for your “Culture Curve” to increase in order to really succeed.”

In order to navigate the world of work you have to be prepared, not only for your work “learning curve” to increase, but for your “Culture Curve” to increase in order to really succeed. Here are some places to look for clues to help you fabulously fit in.

The first place to look is at the mood of the organization? Many organizations dictate it. The reception desk should always have a smile. When you go into Blockbuster (does anyone go in anymore?) they always greet you with “Hello” or “Welcome”. Some organizations dictate mood by the way press releases or communication on email or paper is handled. So someone might start or end a correspondence with a proper or company approved salutation. There are various ways to keep constancy with dictated or spelled out requirements for the manner in which people interact. The hard part is when the requirements are not specified. Perhaps you’re in a company meeting and ask everyone how their weekend was and they all ignore you. You’ve just made a major faux pas, only to be embarrassed after the fact. Or maybe a “Good Morning” gets a blank stare. This is something you want to pay rapt attention to as you are interviewing and once you get the job. The best thing to do in these circumstances is watch and listen to hear how others operate in their environment. What do people talk about before a meeting, even in the interview? Is there chit chat about your family, or do they go right into business? What is the reception area like? Is there water, tea, or coffee for people? Does the receptionist interact with you at all, or leave you hanging? All of these are things to watch for.

“The second thing to watch for is dress. This plays into mood, but is also separate from it. Does casual Friday start on Monday? Does the way people dress extend into their behavior? Do you talk to the suit, or does the suit do all the talking?”

If you deal with clients, does the dress change? Watch for all this even when you check out their website and potentially see pics of those you might be working with. Connected to how they dress is how they move in their clothes. Are people stiff in their movements? Is it an environment where people move from their office to the meeting room and back? How much movement happens in the clothes and do people look comfortable in them? I was in my local bank recently in the heat of July (over 100 degrees) and my poor banker had a heavy suit with panty hose on. She could barely breathe. I asked her, “Aren’t you hot in that?” She said “Yes, I’m so uncomfortable, but these are the requirements for the job. I have to wear a suit, keep the jacket on at all times and wear panty hose.” I caught her subtly rolling her eyes in disbelief at the requirements. You need to know that before you take the job.

A third thing to watch for is food. What is the relationship with food in the office? Is it around all the time, or are there specified times for eating? This may not seem important to you when you interview, but if you’re trying to watch your weight and there are Dunkin Donuts there every morning, it might be challenging to support yourself in other ways while you’re working. I’ve seen more well intentioned nurses put on the freshman 10 their first year of work from all the cakes, cookies, and goodies family members bring in than many other professions. In one of my clients’ office, they have a tradition of going to the local cupcake store and everyone gets a cupcake together every morning when the shop opens. If you want to be part of the “team” you’re basically required to have your daily cupcake. Tell that to your trainer.

Part of what you want to ask as you look at these elements is any bare minimum requirements you have. Can you live with it, if no one says good morning?All in all these are things you find out one way or another. But in order to have real happiness on the job, the more you know before you go, the better you are. So, as you slide into that waiting room, look around. How respectful are people of your time? Do you wait 5 minutes or a half hour? How friendly do you need it to be? Part of what you want to ask as you look at these elements is any bare minimum requirements you have. Can you live with it, if no one says good morning?

Can you say no to the cupcake? Where can you draw the line between what’s ok and what’s not? Before that first door is opened, pay attention because even in these tough times, when jobs are scarce, when you get one, you want to make sure it’s a fit.