New jobs, whether they’re at the beginning of your career or you’re shifting gears in midstream, can be challenging because you don’t yet have the same kinds of connections and relationships that come with long-term employment. And if you’re not careful, this can make you feel like an outsider, even if there are plenty of people who want to help and welcome you into the fold.
However, there are several things you can do to break through and begin to feel comfortable right away. From presenting yourself in a more professional, confident manner by wearing slimming work pants to improving your communication skills, these five steps will give you immediate access to what it feels like to belong to any job.
1) Invest Time
It can feel daunting when you start a new job, and everyone else already seems to know each other. Don’t worry—it just takes time. Take advantage of your first few days by going out of your way to get to know other people. Grab coffee or chat at lunch or after work with people you don’t usually interact with during regular business hours, whether they are inside or outside your department.
Be present, take an interest in others and ask questions that show you want more than just information about them; make genuine connections. By doing so, you’ll get invaluable insight into how things really work and what sorts of considerations have gone into various decisions at your company that might not be obvious otherwise.
2) Establish Relationships
While it’s important to go above and beyond making connections with people at work, you should also aim to forge relationships with those you already know. This is an especially crucial task if you’re transferring from another company or team; it may seem like there are far too many things on your plate in addition to getting up-to-speed on your new job, but that’s no excuse not to make time for others.
People appreciate it when they feel like they matter, so take some time outside of business hours—whether you grab lunch, meet for coffee or hang out after work—to catch up and ask how things are going.
3) Establish Yourself as An Expert
One of the best ways to feel like you belong is by establishing yourself as an expert. This can be hard if you’re not sure how you fit into your new role or department, but that’s no excuse. As people start seeking out your advice and looking for answers from you—and they will—be open with what you know, don’t hold back, and help others.
Doing so will give them a sense of comfort that your knowledge will extend beyond what it takes for them to do their job well; it demonstrates that not only are you invested in their success but also that they are important.
4) Take Initiative
If you have questions, ask. If there are tasks that need to be done, but they don’t fall under your responsibilities, take the initiative and do them. Doing so helps you learn and shows your coworkers that you’re ready, willing, and able when asked.
Plus, it gives them a sense of comfort that if they can’t get something done right away—whether it be because of time constraints or lack of necessary knowledge—you’ll fill in for them.
5) Stay Positive
Even if you’re not fully sold on your new job, remember that people are much more likely to believe what you say if you act like it. Stay positive, try to learn something from each day and be ready with answers when people ask about why you wanted to change positions or jobs at all.
Remember that most of these questions will come from people who genuinely want your best interests; they don’t know what it’s like for you behind closed doors and don’t mean any harm. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, though, trust your gut instinct and stand up for yourself.
Although we’ve just discussed five ways that can help you feel like you belong, remember that every situation is different. Take time and pay attention to what others around you are doing and how they are handling their own transitions; your company is probably full of people who know what it’s like for new hires, so use them as resources.