Trying to forget the major crap hole my life feels like at the moment, I will admit, has been a daily process and I have been struggling about what I should post about this week. That is when it hit me. One way to forget my troubles is to delve myself into the troubles of others and hopefully give a few helpful tips to help someone else. So here I have another question, from one of my favorite sources XOJane:
This might seem stupid, but I’m starting a new job, and I’m really anxious about general office policy. I’m going to be a staff accountant for a Midwestern hotel management company – and my second week will be out-of-town, staying in a hotel in a big Midwestern city, alone.
I was never given an official manual, like I have been at other positions – I’m expected to show up one day to do my HR paperwork, and then begin training the next day. I know it sound superficial, but most of my questions are just sort of basic office things that I actually don’t know:
-What is generally accepted business attire? I’m 24 and the new position is as an accountant. Does it vary between offices? Areas of the country? Or between types of accounting? What should I do if no one tells me???
-What should I expect for discussions of benefits and the like? Am I supposed to try to bargain for the best? How do I know what’s reasonable?
-What will I do for lunch? I know this sounds lame, but I live five minutes from the corporate office. I don’t want to go home and ignore everyone, but how do you get into a lunch group??
Help a girl out! Any advice you readers can give me is appreciated – including (and especially) advice on first week outfits and behavior. Help me start off professionally!
There probably is nothing that sucks quite as much as being the “New Kid on the Block” besides the feelings of excitement and adventure that I am sure are there some where. One also has to contend with the nerves and uncertainty that sometimes feel like they will overwhelm you and you will end up tripping on a piece of carpet in front of everyone and spilling your drink all over your new outfit and have to spend the rest of the day smelling like hot sticky sweetness and looking as though you can’t be trusted with an “adult” cup (I’m having a flashback i think) but don’t worry from my misery I’m sure you can find triumph and avoid some less than desirable situations.
First off, congrats on your grown-up job! Score one for you!
Alright enough of that on to your questions:
– My general rule of thumb (no matter where you are working) for your first week of work when it comes to attire; “Always go for a more formal look.” While I am sure that during the interview process (if it was in the office) you got the chance to see some of the other people you will be working with and what they were wearing, take a cue from them and just go more formal by one notch. So if everyone is in a relaxed business casual; go in wearing business casual by adding a blazer or a cardigan shell to your look. Continue along this vein until you get a real feel for the work place and what rules and aren’t acceptable for the dress code. Remember your new, your coworkers have been there longer and probably have some leeway as to what they can get away with but YOU just got the job so put in some more effort in the beginning. So that means no matter how nice your jeans are STAY AWAY and opt for mix-and-match separates that aren’t; too tight, too short, too revealing and derogatory (I shouldn’t have to add that last one but just in case) If you want them to take you seriously then dress accordingly.
– Now when it comes to the discussion of benefits normally that happens before you receive the offer when they talk to you about the salary being offered. So if there was a second interview that would have been the time to talk salary, PTO (Paid Time Off) etc. But since your next time in the office will be to do your paperwork you can assume that has already been set in stone and they will probably offer you the standard for the position. It seems that this will be an entry-level position for you so you really don’t have a leg to stand on thus there will be no negotiation. Come back in a year (probably more like 3-5) when you have some more experience with the company and something that only you can bring to the table and I am sure they will be willing to talk numbers with you then. Also expect to receive your employees “Handbook” when you go to fill out your paperwork, if not then ask if there is an orientation for new employees (I have worked at places where I didn’t have orientation until about 3 weeks on the job, so it happens.)
-Since you will only be at headquarters for one week before heading on the road, it is most important for you to try to break the ice with your co-workers as soon as possible. So don’t even THINK about going home for lunch! What more perfect time then when everyone is filling their bellies than to pick their brains on the latest goings-ons in the office? When you go in for paperwork, ask if you can take a walk around the office, if that isn’t appropriate (although I don’t really see why not but what do I know?) see if there is a communal lunch area or are people eating at their desks (note if there are a take-out menus hanging around if you go in the morning) or ASK HR where people normally go for lunch in the area. You never know your company might be one of the few that have a cafeteria where everyone goes to eat or they brown bag it for lunch and gather in common areas. Basically my point here is to not close yourself off from people and use the limited amount of time you have before going out of office to ask for opinions and tips from people who have already been the new kids.
We have all been where you are and will probably be there again so don’t freak over the small stuff and just breathe, it will all work out I promise. Don’t forget to check out my Tips from the CEO’s Office post to get some more helpful tips for surviving the work place.
Well then, until next time folks!