It’s just as important to know when to take a back seat. In meetings, you should expect to do more listening. Don’t feel like you have to pepper the speaker with questions to show you’re engaged and participating. Nonverbal signals like smiles and nods can work just as well — one reason why it’s important to turn on your camera during virtual meetings.
Also, avoid talking about your last job unless it’s directly relevant to your current duties. If your memories are all positive, this will quickly start to grate on your new colleagues. If they’re all negative, your boss may wonder whether you’re really the loyal team player you claim to be.
Don’t be a loner
Much like law school, you’ll find the legal world is that rare combination of highly competitive and intensely collaborative. You’ll want to prove yourself to get that promotion and one day make partner or manager, but you can’t do it without teammates.
So if there’s a birthday party on your first day, don’t be afraid to sing along as the candles get blown out. If there’s an opportunity to take part in a team-building exercise or pro bono community project, sign up. Interacting with colleagues outside your day-to-day routine will help you forge stronger working relationships.
Don’t overwhelm yourself
Managing large workloads is a challenge throughout the legal profession, but never so much as in the early weeks of a new job when you’re trying to please everybody. In your keenness to hit the ground running, you may end up volunteering for tasks and responsibilities that lie outside your job description or that more experienced colleagues are all too willing to delegate.
A better approach to managing your workload is to master your core responsibilities first, and only then consider taking on more challenging tasks. Your boss wants you to succeed, and the way to impress them is by delivering quality work on time
, not trying to be a hero and missing deadlines because you bit off more than you can chew.
Finally, if you do make a mistake in your first few weeks on the job, don’t beat yourself up about it or, worse, try to hide the error from your manager. You were hired to work hard and add value to the firm or legal department, not to be perfect. Learn from your experiences, and it won’t be long before you’re the one helping new recruits ease into their new roles.
Jamy J. Sullivan is executive director of the legal practice at Robert Half, the world’s first and largest specialized talent solutions firm. Robert Half offers contract, temporary and permanent placement solutions, and is the parent company of Protiviti®, a global consulting firm. Visit RobertHalf.com.