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The Secrets to Starting a New Accounting Job

Robert Half International

Beginning a new accounting position is an exciting adventure, but the transition can be stressful. To make a positive impression on your manager and coworkers, and adapt to a new corporate culture, you'll want to start off right. Here's how.

 Focus on learning.  Your initial role is to soak up as much as possible, not only about your new responsibilities but also about the workplace.  Pay attention to the organization's culture and 'how things work around here.'  Every office has its unwritten rules, so observe how others behave.  Before you bring in the photo of your dog or a bowl of candy for your desk, for example, look to see what your colleagues keep in their work areas.  There may be guidelines for displaying personal items.

      Dress the part.  If you've yet to learn the dress code, err on the formal side.  You will not make a poor impression if you are more conservatively dressed than your new coworkers, but you will if you dress too casually.  Do your best, though, to adopt the prevailing style as soon as possible. 

      Maintain an open mind.  Systems and procedures may be different from what you're used to, but if you resist adapting to them, you could appear obstinate and intractable.  The way you did things at your last job is no longer relevant; what counts is the procedure your new employer uses.  If, after a few months, you feel the methods you used previously were more effective, suggest to your manager that they be considered.

      Don't try to be a superhero.  Recognize it will take time to master a new job and be successful in it.  With your manager's input, create a list of objectives for the first few months on the job and establish a timeline for meeting them.

      Get to know the people you meet.  Learn colleagues' names as fast as you can and introduce yourself to everyone you interact with.  Get to know others by engaging them in conversation or inviting them to lunch.  It's important to begin building relationships with your coworkers early on so you can turn to them for assistance and advice.

      Figure out who the key players are.  The organization chart will show the formal chain of command, but every office has important players who are identified by function or experience, not rank.  These individuals include the person who is extremely knowledgeable about a particular process or computer system, the one who has connections in every department and even the administrative professional who can help you with logistical tasks.

      Avoid office politics.  Try to remain above the fray when discussions turn to complaints about coworkers or other gossip.  Becoming involved in office politics, especially early on, can damage your budding relationships and efforts to establish a positive reputation.

      Be dependable.  Arrive at work on time and stay until others leave.  Answer e-mails and return phone calls promptly.  This advice may seem obvious, but the importance of demonstrating a strong work ethic from the beginning cannot be stressed enough.  Also, as much as possible, offer to help those under deadline pressure.  Chances are people will remember your generosity down the road.

      Show enthusiasm.  Be upbeat and cooperative.  Show everyone that you're glad to be a part of the team and are eager to make your mark.  Not only will you quickly become a valuable member of the group, but you'll also gain the satisfaction of knowing you've contributed to the department's success.  

      Starting a new job can be daunting.  But if you relax and follow these commonsense guidelines, you'll make a positive initial impression, adapt quickly and gain new experiences that enhance your career. 

Founded in 1948, Robert Half Finance & Accounting, a division of Robert Half International Inc., the world's largest specialized financial recruiting service and a leading authority on workplace and management trends. The company has more than 350 offices throughout North America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. Learn more at

Copyright 2008 Robert Half International. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

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