insight magazine

7 Ways to Be the New Recruit Everybody Loves

The grueling interview process is over. The job offer is yours. It’s smooth sailing from here, right? By Selena Chavis | Digital Exclusive - 2017

Welcome Recruit

While many entry-level accountants often breathe a sigh of relief after landing a job, the hard part may be yet to come. According to industry experts, the process of navigating a new position, finding your place within an organization’s culture and meeting company or firm expectations isn’t always easy. In fact, it’s a skill unto itself.

Recognizing the challenges and benefits associated with smooth transitions, Plante Moran assigns interns and new hires both a buddy and team partner, who support them throughout their careers within the firm.

“Their buddy is usually a two- to three-year staff member who has more experience and can be their go-to person to answer any questions they have, whether it’s about the dress code, how to enter their time or something more client focused,” says Mary Kate Garner, PHR, campus recruiting manager with Plante Moran. “Their team partner is there for the same questions, but also serves as a resource to help steer that person’s career, making sure they are involved in the type of client work they would like to be involved with and helping them set career goals.”

Although this model helps new hires succeed within the company, pitfalls remain. With that in mind, here are seven tips to help you shine as the new recruit everybody loves.

1. Observe—and then observe some more

Make it a point to observe the corporate culture in as many situations as possible, suggests Marilyn Bird, Chicago-based district director for Robert Half International. “In the work environment, pay attention to the unspoken lay of the land,” she says, particularly when it comes to how people approach work, what time they arrive, how they dress and how they gather for social celebrations and events. “When someone is new at a company, getting a chance to take it all in gives them an indication of the format, what’s acceptable behavior and how to fit in,” she explains.

2. Show a little humility

Most firms don’t expect new recruits to come in knowing exactly how to do their jobs. In fact, Garner notes that Plante Moran has a strong focus on campus recruiting because, “You’re here because we’ve identified that you have those technical skills and those soft skills that we believe will make you successful. We try to reinforce that it’s okay if you don’t know everything about your job.”

3. Ask lots of questions

Bird feels that one of the biggest mistakes new recruits make is hesitating to ask for help for fear that it will make them seem incompetent. “Even if you’re hired for something very technical, you aren’t expected to know everything about your role,” she says. “For people who don’t seek help, the result can be unnecessary mistakes and undue stress. If you engage, it looks like you’re very qualified and trying to speed up that orientation process so you can contribute to the company.”

4. Tread carefully with social media

Some, Bird included, recommend that you simply save social media for break time or home time. “I don’t recommend that as a great way to make an impression,” she asserts.  “It‘s something that can give the impression that you are not paying attention to your job. Maybe it’s related to work, maybe it’s not, but it’s not the kind of perception you want to create.”

However at Plante Moran, “We encourage staff to use social media during work hours for business development. We even have a social media training program and an ‘employee advocacy’ program for sharing firm social posts,” Garner explains.

Safe to say, it comes down to firm or corporate culture. Which means new recruits would be wise to study up on an organization’s policies governing social media, and to ask a supervisor if, how and when social media might be used for work purposes.

5. Communicate—a lot

Whether accepting constructive criticism or reaching out for help, Garner says it’s important for new hires to learn how to communicate effectively. This means knowing that picking up the phone is better in some situations than sending an email, or that stopping by someone’s desk is the best choice of all.

“That’s where the buddy or team partner model is effective,” she says, pointing out that the company’s motto regarding constructive criticism is “candor is kindness.” “A lot of times when you offer constructive criticism early in a person’s career, it’s easy to have a quick conversation. Maybe they didn’t know their shirts were never ironed or that how they were responding to feedback wasn’t the right way.”

6. Actively network within the company

Don’t underestimate the power of networking and building relationships within the company that employs you, Garner stresses. “At Plante Moran, one of our sayings is that ‘we don’t have work friends, we work with friends.’” A networking strategy should start at the internship level and go all the way up to building relationships at the managing partner and executive levels.

7. Focus on your primary purpose

In the midst of all your efforts to fit into the organization’s culture, don’t forget the most important thing of all: You’re there to work.

“I think you want to really pay attention to your work habits immediately when you start a job. You want to stand out as someone who has an outstanding work ethic, is very focused, very planned, very professional,” Bird explains. “You can’t go wrong with that image in any environment.”

Garner notes that even at the intern level, professionals should treat their job as if it’s a three-month interview, and not lose sight of the fact that a full-time offer is not yet on the table.

As new recruits become more comfortable with the company culture, they can afford to relax a little in terms of how to dress and act. But, says Bird, “Your work ethic and focus must always be there a committed 100 percent.”

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