Moraine Valley Community College || Job Resource Center - Resources - New Employees

Helpful Hints for New Employees

Making the transition from college to a profession is a difficult one. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the work place is a different environment from the college campus. There are a variety of similarities and differences that must be remembered in order to be successful on the job. Tardiness, for example, is not tolerated unless a valid excuse is given. Most businesses have a certain dress code that is expected of their employees. This may not always be stated in writing. Be conservative until you are more aware of what is acceptable. Relationships with fellow workers and management may not be like those with teachers and other students. Management's time is very limited and may not always be available. To your co-workers you are the newcomer and might appear threatening, so your best approach is to earn their respect and confidence. Daily routines of each office are different; in time, you will grow comfortable with them.

The workflow that you are expected to produce can be very similar to taking on a full course load at school. The same pressures you were feeling as a student can be felt on the job. Managing your time is a key factor to resolving this problem. There are additional pressures besides the quantity of work that can add to stress on the job. You will have to find ways to confront this— a positive outlet helps.

As well as differences, there are practical applications. You can utilize the skills you've learned in college and apply them to your specific position. One of the most important skills that is needed in every discipline is writing. Whether it is an interoffice memo or a simple thank you letter to a client, you will need to be proficient in this area.

Finally, if you want to advance in this company, make yourself visible. Work hard and make suggestions to your supervisor on ways to make your office more efficient. Take charge of your own career development. Don't give up if you don't get the first promotion you try for.


This is an important issue to all employers.

  • If you are scheduled to begin work at 8:30 a.m., be at your desk and prepared to start at 8:30 a.m.
  • Your lunch hour and breaks should be limited to the time allotted.
  • If you are going to be late, be courteous to your employer and phone them. They might not care for the fact that you're late, but they will appreciate the phone call.
  • Remember, do not make tardiness a habit.
  • If you are ill, you should call your employer before your shift begins. (i.e., if you begin work at 8:30 a.m. and your boss doesn't get there until 8:15 a.m., call right at 8:15 a.m., not 9:30 a.m.).
  • Be flexible with your schedule. Some employers want people in earlier than the official starting time while others don't mind if you are a few minutes late because they want you to work late occasionally.
  • Most employers have their own attendance policy. Be sure and inquire about it when you start work. Most companies allow so many personal and sick days per year.

Dress Code

  • This area depends on what type of business you are working for (i.e. a banking institution would require more conservative attire than an advertising firm). Be on the safe side and dress conservatively until you either talk with your supervisor or get a "feel" for it from your fellow workers.
  • If you desire to move up in the company, watch what clothing the individuals in the upper-level positions are wearing and dress accordingly.
  • Typically, women should wear a suit or skirt and blouse.
  • Men should wear a suit or a shirt, tie and nice trousers. Wear dark-colored socks with dark-colored suits or pants. Avoid white socks.
  • Most importantly, you should look neat and clean. Women should not wear an excessive amount of makeup or jewelry. Men should keep their hair well groomed.
  • Again, most employers have their own dress code, whether it be written or understood. Remember, always ask if you are uncertain.

Relationships with Co-Workers

  • It is better to treat people on a more formal basis until you get to know them and are asked to be treated more informally.
  • Be cautious and avoid judgments made about others until you've had time to form your own opinions. Avoid listening to rumors.
  • Take time to meet the people with whom you will be working with directly. If they aren't in your immediate vicinity, call them up and introduce yourself.
  • Develop your channels of communication with mutual respect and cooperation.

Relationships with Management

  • Develop a healthy respect for your supervisor as well as other top management in your office.
  • In most companies your supervisor will sit down with you to identify what it is you are to accomplish. Goals should be set for both you and your supervisor.
  • Make sure that you allow yourself enough time to accomplish these goals, given the constraints surrounding them.
  • If you think you will need help in obtaining these goals or that you find you are running behind, always make the supervisor aware as soon as possible.
  • Take time to understand your own role and behavior in meetings, conferences and project development. You are part of your boss's team. Take into account your image when making comments, suggestions or criticisms of past actions or future plans.

Office Etiquette

  • Get to know the company. Recognize the informal system as well as the formal chain of command.
  • Acquaint yourself with the names and faces of the company's top ranking executives.
  • Become thoroughly familiar with the products and/or the services the company offers.
  • Learn about the various departments within the company and how they relate to the department in which you work.
  • Respond to phone or memo inquiries as quickly as possible. They will have to be dealt with anyway. Promptness reflects interest and concern for the issue and the person involved.
  • Those who let correspondence and return calls pile up develop an image of being inefficient and disorganized.

Time Management

  • Learn to prioritize your workload; some things can wait others cannot. Until you have been there long enough to develop this sense, this may seem difficult to do. Ask your supervisor for assistance.
  • Be careful not to take on too much too soon. If you feel this is the case, talk with your supervisor before frustration begins to build.
  • At times, it might be necessary to take work home or stay late to meet personal or organizational deadlines.
  • It also might be necessary to spend time with co-workers, staff or supervisors outside of work. This could help improve morale as well help you go gain insight into their personalities. In doing this, you are in a better position to understand them.

Handling Stress

  • Stress comes with just about any job.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions of staff who have worked for the company longer than you have.
  • Watch that you do not over personalize issues when problems arise with other employees, your staff, or management.
  • Be careful not to let personal conflicts outside the office interfere with work. If you need some counseling, your company might have an employee assistance program (EAP) that helps employees with personal problems regardless of what they are. This is offered free of charge in most companies and is strictly confidential.

Career and Professional Development

  • Keep in mind that you are new to the company. There are some things you will be better at than others. Consider this when attempting to move up within your organization.
  • Do not wait for recognition and progress to come. Make a sincere effort to master your current position then work on striving for others.
  • Offer suggestions to your supervisor on ways to improve your position or the department.