6 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A New Job

The beginning of a new job is a crucial time to not only make a good first impression, but set the tone for your career.

6 Mistakes To Avoid When Starting A New Job
[Photo: Flickr user Dimitar Atanasov]

Starting a new job can be a nerve-wracking experience. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself making the kind of mistakes that will not only annoy your co-workers, but could have you ostracized from the company before you even get your business cards. Avoid these top new hire mistakes to ensure your new job will have longevity.


1. Trying Too Hard

It’s common for new hires to want to demonstrate just how skilled they are to prove to others that the company was right to hire them, but showcasing yourself right out the gate can cause you to come across to co-workers as over-zealous or arrogant.

Scott Weiss, founder of the employee referral tracking company Referagig and president of Makena Partners, a technology recruiting support company, says the most important thing a new hire can do is build trust with colleagues. “Take the first few weeks to ask a lot of questions and be curious,” he says.

While in the back of your mind, you may be saying I have all these great skills, talents, and knowledge that I bring to the table, putting them out there for everyone to see all at once can make it difficult for you to win the trust that you need with your colleagues.

2. Embellishing Your Skills Or Experience

Starting off on the right foot at your new job begins before you even get hired. Recruiting expert Steve Suggs says the worst mistake he sees new hires make is embellishing on their résumé. “If you get the job, those embellishments will eventually come back to haunt you,” he says.

Stay true to your skills and experiences both on your résumé and when chatting with your new co-workers and managers in your early days on the job. If you don’t know something, tell the truth and promise you’ll work hard to learn it.

3. Talking About Your Previous Company Too Much

Starting a new job is akin to moving to a new community. Things are going to look different and be done differently than in your previous work environment. Talking excessively about how your previous company did things or how you’re used to doing things can put people off and make them think that you won’t be able to fit in to your new company culture.


Managers, especially, have a tendency to want to make changes immediately, but, Weiss advises to stand down, at least for a little while. “You want to be sensitive to the culture that exists,” he says.

4. Not Asking Questions

Don’t worry about annoying your managers or co-workers by peppering them with questions. “Being curious is going to demonstrate engagement and show a commitment to learning and wanting to do the job well, and it’s going to create that trust that you’re after with your manager and co-workers,” says Weiss.

No matter how good a company’s onboarding process is, Weiss says most companies won’t give you half of the information you need to do the job. Identify who the top performers are in your department and seek out their advice. Not proactively checking in with your manager will simply create lingering doubts about how engaged you really are in your new role.

5. Eating Lunch Alone

Being a “joiner” is especially important to build rapport, trust, and camaraderie with your new co-workers. Look for opportunities to get to know your new work community, whether grabbing a coffee in the break room or heading to the cafeteria for lunch. But while being social is important, remember not to go over-share everything about yourself.

“Let them become curious about you,” says Weiss. Listen to what’s going on around you and chime in when it’s appropriate. “You’re like the new kid at school and you want to be careful about shaping your image and cultivating your reputation and your image, and you have to do that slowly,” says Weiss.

6. Engaging In Gossip

Avoid becoming best buds with the office Chatty Cathy. “Gossip is the death of relationships,” says Suggs. You want to avoid giving anyone any ammunition to use against you in the early days of starting a new job. Being labelled an office gossip will destroy your abilities to earn the trust of your new colleagues.


About the author

Lisa Evans is a freelance writer from Toronto who covers topics related to mental and physical health. She strives to help readers make small changes to their daily habits that have a profound and lasting impact on their productivity and overall job satisfaction