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10 Things You Should Do In Your First Week in IT

10 Things You Should Do In Your First Week in IT
It’s your first week in the IT industry. This can be an overwhelming time in your career, as there’s so much to learn and a lot to do. Make it easier by learning ten things you can do in your first week in IT.

Learn Who The Key Contacts Are

Every office has a few key people that should be contacted in certain situations. Your manager should be able to help with most of the things that you do in your day-to-day activities.

However, some situations will call for others to help. These kinds of things your manager may not be able to do. What kinds of people are they?

There may be someone on your office that is responsible for fixing the printer when it breaks. The last thing you want is a broken printer when you need to print something important. If you know who to approach to report it, then you send the impression that you can take action and like to get problems solved.

There could be someone else that sets up access to systems, if it’s not your manager. These could be administration systems, workflow, documentation and email systems. Learn who these people are and speak to them if you need to.

There’s often also someone in the office that seems to know who everyone is. The kind of person who you can ask “who should I speak to about…” and they can tell you the answer. This is an important person to know as they can help you get things done easier.

Keep Asking Questions

The first week in any new job is tough, especially in IT. Organizations do the same things differently, and they often run different systems and applications. One way to find out about all of these is to ask questions.

Being the new person in a job means you’ll be asking a lot of questions. You won’t learn everything you need to know on your first day, though. I suggest you continue to ask questions after your first day.

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Ask people how things work, what needs to be done, when certain things happen, where information gets sent, and how things happen. Ask as many questions as you need. You’re the new person so you’re allowed to, and even expected to.

Be Proactive When Introducing Yourself

You’ll be seeing a lot of new faces in your new job. You may have met some people during the interview process and as part of your team on the first day, but you’ll see a lot more during your first week.

Try to take an active approach when meeting new people. There’s not always going to be someone around to introduce you, and if you work in the same office, you’ll probably see them again.

Starting off with a simple “Hi” is enough. You can mention you’re new here and ask for their name, and offer yours. Most people will be pretty friendly to the new person.

If they aren’t, don’t take it personally. They just might be having a bad day. If you stay positive about it, it will be easier to move on from it.

Learn the Unwritten Rules

Every office has a set of unwritten rules. And most offices are different. I’ve worked in a consulting role for the last few years, and have been in many different offices. I’ve noticed they all have their own unwritten rules, which are things that people do but don’t really talk about.

These unwritten rules can include things like:

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  • Who cleans the kitchen? When is it cleaned? Who is responsible for emptying and filling the dishwasher?
  • Is the fridge available for everyone to use? Are there certain sections that are everyone’s food and others that are private?
  • Do you need to book all meeting rooms before using them, or can you walk into it if they are free?
  • What happens when the coffee or tea runs out?
  • What happens when the printer runs out of paper or ink?
  • When and where do people eat lunch? Is eating at your desk acceptable or frowned upon?

It’s a good idea to notice little things like this and see if certain behaviors and events happen. It will make you fit in more and help you become more accepted in your new role.

Keep Track Of Your Accomplishments

Here will be a lot of things that you get to work on at the start of your IT career. This isn’t just in your first week–it applies to your first few months or first year. As the work comes and goes, you get things done, some big and some small. You may have some pretty big achievements in all of that.

When it comes time for your performance review, you’re often asked to list your achievements. Instead of trying to remember them all at the end of the year, I suggest writing them down and keeping a record of them as they happen. This will allow you to add more detail to them, as they are fresher in your mind, and will mean it’s easier for you to complete your performance review later in the year.

Write down small and big achievements. You can always trim the list later in the year if other, better achievements come along.

Organize Your Desk

You’ll most likely be spending a lot of time at your desk, at your computer. Even if you have a job that involves moving around and going to different places, you will probably find yourself at your desk quite a lot.

I suggest getting your desk organized early in your role. This doesn’t mean just setting up your keyboard and mouse. Get yourself some stationery if you need it, such as folders, pens, books, pen holders. If you need some document trays, try to get some of those. Get your phone connected, voicemail set up, and any other cables sorted out.

This will make it easier for you to do your job when you get busy. You don’t want to be figuring out how to get stationery or correcting a voicemail message when you’ve got other things that need to be done.

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Set Up a To Do List

One of the most effective ways to get things done at work is to set up a To Do list.

This is simply a list of things that you need to do at work. It can start small, with only a few things on it, like getting supplies or speaking to someone. As your role grows, you’ll get more work to do and need some way of tracking it.

I personally use Microsoft Outlook’s task feature to keep track of work-related tasks. It’s simple, and all of the places I’ve worked have Outlook installed. I’ve seen other people use Evernote or even a pen and paper. Whatever works for you, as long as you’re writing down what you need to do, you should receive the benefits of it.

Update Your Social Media

Getting a new job is great. It’s a big step in your career. It’s also important to make it known. Not in a bragging capacity, but just to let other people know. This should be done on your social media profiles.

The important one is LinkedIn, the professional networking site. Set up a LinkedIn profile if you haven’t already. If you have, update your title, company and role information. Making sure this is up to date will make it easier to connect with other people.

If you use other social sites like Facebook or Twitter, you may wish to update it there as well.

Learn Your Neighborhood

Where there are offices, there are usually smaller shops around to support them. Near offices, you can find coffee shops for the morning pick-me-up, cafés and sandwich shops for lunches, and even other services such as post offices and pharmacies. During your first week, it’s good to learn where these places are.

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Google Maps is a good tool for finding some of the bigger services. It may not be able to tell you where to find the best flat white coffee, but it can tell you where the nearest grocery store or post office is.

Have a walk at lunchtime or before work to see what’s in the area and what might be worth knowing about. This not only helps when you’re looking for it later, but you can also help when other people are looking for places.

Read Lots of Internal Documentation

Companies often send out internal documentation for their employees to read. This can come in many forms, such as emails, brochures, and larger documents. This documentation is used for many reasons including updating the staff on the latest events, promoting products, or offering  training.

A good way to improve your career and your effectiveness at your job is to read the documentation that the company provides. There should be documentation that relates to your role, such as how things work and how it all fits together.

There could also be other documents worth reading, such as company announcements, process documents and company history. This can make you more educated and informed about the company, which is often a good thing.

Well I hope these tips will be useful in your first week on the job. What other tips do you have for those in their first week?

More by this author

Ben Brumm

Ben is a business analyst and software developer. He shares career advice on Lifehack.

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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