A guide to the honeymoon period …


Treat your job as you would a new relationship.

Starting a new job is like meeting your boyfriend’s parents for the first time. And if you’re like a lot of us and married to your job, it’s important to make a lasting impression. Here are tips to make your union a happily ever after.

So you have landed your dream job or perhaps your ‘job for the moment’, very similar to ‘Mr Right for the moment’ if you have taken former Employment Minister Mark Arbib’s helpful advice and tried not to be too picky.

In your first week, dress in a conservative manner to make your colleagues fall in love with you at first sight. Think of the outfit you wore when you first met the parents. Just a hint of cleavage, minimal makeup, no short skirts and leave the hooker heels at home. I’ve got two words for you: crotch shot.

Similar to family dinner time conversation, you need to think of some watercooler topics to break the ice with your colleagues that won’t possibly offend or incite a riot. Standard dinner time rules apply – no politics, economics or religion. Reality television is what cigarette smoking was in the 1980s in regards to workplace bonding. Think G-rated shows, not G-strings. Family shows like Masterchef are more appropriate than Girls of the Playboy Mansion.

While every company appreciates initiative and open expression of ideas (in theory anyway), it’s career suicide to rearrange the filing cabinet on your first day or start every sentence with ‘At my company, we did it this way’. As every woman knows, just like you would negotiate a relationship, you have to make it seem like it was their idea in the first place.

First impressions can be quickly formed at an office, unfair but true. You don’t want to be known as the office bore but the other extreme, the party animal or the office lush is a no no. Like any family outing, you want to be on your best behaviour at after work drinks. As funny as all your drunk girlfriends think your impression of Lady Gaga is, this is no time to test it out on a new audience.

Just as you would keep a lid on PDAs (public displays of affection not geeky gadgets) at a family do, flirting outrageously with the photocopier technician or the hunky courier boy is not encouraged no matter how much they may look like David Beckham. You need to get a quick grip on the office culture and procedures, not groping your colleagues.

Steal food and milk at your own peril. The office fridge harbours more than bacteria, expressed milk comes quickly to mind. And while we’re on the topic of stealing, the first week of work is not an opportunity to add to your vintage office stationary collection and if you need to make an urgent international phone call, be smart about it and use your colleague’s phone when they are at lunch.

Finally, exercise caution when using the ‘reply all’ button in emails. Email etiquette like good table manners can never be undervalued.

Pace yourself. Just like a relationship, you’ve got the rest of your career to show your quirks and let yourself go. Just get through the probation period and then they’ll be forced to accept you, for better or most likely for worse.

Originally published in MyCareer in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, on the 26 March 2011. Copyright Gillian Nalletamby 2011. If you liked this, you might like Beware the job search minefield.

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