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How to nail your first week at a new job

You only get one chance to make a good first impression—so make it count.

How to nail your first week at a new job

You got the job. Congrats! Now comes the hard part—showing your new employers they made the right choice in hiring you. And they are definitely paying attention.

In fact, a recent survey showed that executives can tell within two weeks whether entry-level hires will be successful or not. That’s not a lot of time—but the good news is, a lot of what you need to do in that first week is to watch and listen.

Monster spoke with career experts to get their advice on how to wow your boss and impress your coworkers in that first week. On your first morning, while you’re packing your lunch, review this list one more time—then, go knock ‘em dead!

Pause now, change later

Yes, you’re all fired up and you want to make things happen. You want to fix, change, improve everything. That’s why they hired you, right? Well, maybe.

“My best advice for the first week at a new job is to listen and observe first, and act second,” says Jaime Petkanics, founder of the New York City-based job search consultancy, The Prepary. “Use your first week on the job to get the lay of the land, learn and listen. Once you have a really solid understanding of what’s going on, who your key partners are and where you can add value, then start moving and making an impact.”

Learn team and company culture

In addition to the way your team works, it’s important to pay attention to how they like to live, laugh, have fun and interact. Every company is different, so carefully observe your company’s culture and then adapt so you don’t start off as “the awkward one.”

“You can risk coming across as tone-deaf if you don't pay attention all the signals around you,” says Alison Green, author of the popular career advice blog, Ask a Manager.  Pay attention to “things like what hours people typically work, how long they take for lunch and how they communicate during the day.”

If people tend to eat at their desks, eat at your desk, at least at first. If your co-workers want to talk about last night’s episode of The Bachelor, find a way to chime in so you can be a part of the team socially, as well as professionally.

Ask the right questions

“You should always ask questions if you don't know the answer or need more information,” says Kate Gremillion founder of Mavenly + Co., a New Orleans-based career consulting firm, “but make sure it's not a question that you could have figured out yourself.”

 You may remember Andy Sachs getting hung up on after she asks, “Can you spell ‘Gabanna?’” in The Devil Wears Prada. Don’t be that person. When in doubt, turn to Google first, co-worker second.

Don’t be the first or last to leave

You might think the best way to prove your worth is to open and close the office. But overworking can lead to burnout, poor performance, stress and job dissatisfaction. Take some cues from your co-workers and find a happy medium instead.

“At the end of the day, carefully watch what time people in your department leave the office. You should aim to depart at the midpoint,” says Alexandra Levit, author of They Don't Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something's Guide to the Business World. “You don’t want to be the first one out the door, but if you’re the last one, you’ll set a precedent that you are willing to work late for the rest of your days at that company.”

Set expectations

Once you’ve settled in and gotten a sense of how things operate, that first week is also a great time to sit down with your boss and really find out what he or she expects from you. The sooner you know, the more quickly you can start working toward achieving those goals.

“Ask your new manager what a successful first month and first six months would look like,” says Green. “Managers often forget to spell this out, and talking through these questions will give you really useful information about what you need to achieve in order to be performing at the level your boss expects.”

You may have some missteps in that first week—but try not to sweat it. After all, you’ll have the “new kid” glow (and excuse) for at least a month. Use these tips as starting points, and you’ll be off to a great start as you transition into your new job.