Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First Impression, Last Impression

The first day of work is one day no one forgets in a hurry. Whether you’re on your first job or your fifth, the sheer novelty of being in a new office, and dealing with new people is enough to give even the most seasoned professionals an acute case of ‘butterflies-in-stomach’. We’ve all heard the clichés about the first impression being all-important and no one wants to commit an irreversible faux pas on their first day at work.

Many people choose to play as safe and get away with pleasant first days at work. Raedita Tandon, an entertainment journalist with cine-magazine shares, “I was given a lot of advice from my parents before starting as it was my first job.” She further adds, “I was told to be myself but be careful of what I said, be friendly with everyone, but not to be too free either.”

Not all people are that lucky, of course. Take the case of Sheetal Kapoor (name changed), who used to work in the customer care department of a large company. “I started off on a Sunday shift, and once we were feeling quite laidback and getting a lot of uninspiring calls,” she reveals. “There was this one particular call where I gave a customer wrong information out of disinterest. As it turned out, it was my boss who had called to check up on us, and he gave me a piece of his mind for being so lax,” she adds. While things usually smooth themselves out over the course of time, it helps to be on your toes and avoid such incidents by preparing oneself.

Sometimes, however, people can be overenthusiastic in their attempt to make a good impression, which can lead to unfortunate consequences. There are people like Hari Srinivasan (name changed) who had disastrous first days because of overzealousness. “I had just shifted to a new magazine and there was no set way of working. I had just come from a more established magazine and I was used to working in a particular manner,” shares Srinivasan. “I was completely lost and had no idea what was going on. So I went ahead and edited some articles and got pages laid out, despite the fact that there were no set templates. Eventually, I was questioned as to why I did that and I had to re-do all that work,” he informs.

How does one recover from a seemingly unforgivable slip-up? Because, not only can these be detrimental to one’s image and self-confidence, they can also cause a slight deviation in what would have otherwise been a smoother career graph. The answer lies with etiquette trainers who help equip professionals and job-aspirants with the required soft skills to make sure they don’t commit professional hara-kiri. “Corporate etiquette trainers groom you on intra and inter-office etiquette, also dealing with cross-cultural traits,” states Hetal Parekh, a corporate etiquette trainer. “Companies usually hire them in orientation programmes, but one can also get it done personally,” he notes.

Here are some tips offered by Hetal Parekh for that first day:


1) Know the culture of your company and dress accordingly. Looks matter and that is half the battle won. 70% of your impression depends on how you look, 20% depends on your body language, and only 10% on what you’re actually saying.
2) Find out your hierarchy, and make sure you don’t cross the line. Use discretion when speaking of superiors to other people. Know your job profile.
3) Be prepared for unknown surprises in your daily schedule. Carry a lunch box just in case there isn’t time for lunch. Make sure you have a way to get back home. Be prepared to stay till whatever time you may be required; don’t be in a hurry to leave.
1) If you have internet access, don’t surf the net even if you have nothing to do. It creates a bad impression. Remember, you are definitely being watched.

2) Sending out personal e-mails or forwards is a no-no. Try not to take personal calls. If absolutely necessary, keep them short.
3) Don’t gesticulate a lot; be careful of your body language. Don’t be too loud and attention-seeking. Always shake hands with everyone you meet; a good handshake is a must.

Times Ascent

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