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10 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Starting a New Job As a Software Developer.

Ankur Tyagi
Software Engineer • Mentor • Author ▫ Writing at http://TheAnkurTyagi.com ▫ Talk to me 1-1 👉 hiretheauthor.com/theankurtyagi ▫ I love to help people grow and share what I learned.
Originally published at theankurtyagi.com Updated on ・4 min read

Are you about to start a new job?

If so, by now, I’m sure at least some of that initial excitement of being offered the job has worn off and is starting to be replaced by feelings of nervousness or anxiety.

Am I right?

Well, you’re not alone.

Even for the most confident of Devs, starting a new job can be hugely nerve-wracking, and that’s completely normal.

Congratulations! You’ve finally secured a new job, and now you want to start off on the right foot, making a positive impression on your new boss and colleagues.

Well, we all make mistakes in our careers, no matter what profile we are working on:

  • A management professional,
  • A talent acquisition specialist,
  • A software developer.

But be careful, you could find yourself unknowingly making the kind of mistakes.

1- Don't blow off orientation:

Many companies require new employees to go through an orientation or training process before starting a new position.

While it may be tempting to skip these sessions or treat them lightly, "Don’t do it."

Even if your training managers won’t be your direct supervisors, they are watching you.

Avoid any behavior that could prompt a training manager to report your behavior back to your boss and team members.

In fact, this is your chance to learn more from others.

2. Saying “I know” too much.

You were hired for the job because the employer believes you to be intelligent enough to do it.

But that doesn't mean your colleagues want to hear a smug “I know” or an eye-rolling, “I know” while they're trying to offer helpful advice.

3- Being rude with technology.

Yes, it’s true that everyone relies too much on their smartphone and spends too much time on Twitter at work.

But in the first months of your job, try not to send one text during your work hours or even think of checking Facebook/Twitter.

It’s a double standard to be sure, but you'll be judged much more harshly in the beginning for such behavior.

Explain to F&F that you'll be offline except during breaks so you'll be less tempted to stray into behavior that will cause others to see you as immature and lazy.

4- Don't expect hand-holding

There are certain processes, tools, that make up the standard operating procedures of a company.

You may have been introduced to these through an orientation.

“If not, don’t get frustrated.

Instead, take initiative & learn basics on your own.”

5- Don't try to change things.

Of course, you want to make a good impression as soon as you arrive at a new job, & show your new employer they made the right choice in hiring you.

However, suggesting strategies during your first few weeks, May not be the best way to show.

6- Don't be dishonest.

In a new job, there will always be a learning curve, and effective supervisors understand that.

Inevitably, you’ll be asked to do something or expected to know something that you don’t yet know or know how to do.

“Don’t be afraid to say, ‘I don’t know"

Rather than saying you can complete the task on your own, be honest...

“Honesty is a huge differentiator. Simply say ‘I don’t know.

Let me find out and get back to you.’ Then do it.”

7- Not writing things down.

Some people believe they have an uncanny memory for details, and maybe you are one of them.

But if you don't want to drive your colleagues and boss crazy, take the time to write down the directions that you are given.

Don't be a poor listener.

8- Turning down happy hour.

I’m not telling you to go get wasted with your colleagues, but when the invitation is issued to go to happy hour or lunch, don’t turn it down in the early days.

Later you can plead other plans, but in the beginning, you should graciously accept.

One word of caution:

It’s OK to share a bit of your personal life during such situations, but try to spend more time asking questions and listening rather than sharing too much information about your personal situation that could become fodder for office gossips.

9- Talking too much about past successes.

It's important to establish yourself as a talented individual, but you have to walk a fine line at the start.

Too much gabbing about how you interned at Microsoft or build side hustle when you were 18 are wonderful accomplishments,

but can come off as bragging when others don’t know you well.

Only use examples of how you accomplished a task if it directly applies to a situation, and save your stories about meeting Bill gates on the elevator until you’ve established a more solid rapport with others.

10- Take Care of Yourself

Starting a new job can be mentally and physically taxing.

However, you don’t want to burn yourself out in your early days.

Be sure to take care of your health and spend some time doing activities that invigorate you.

While you may feel like you have to dedicate every waking hour to this new position, doing so can quickly degrade your health and have a negative impact on your performance.

Strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance right out of the gate.

What I do generally in start:

Tip of the day when you start a new Job:

"It can be a great idea to casually ask colleagues if they have any advice for getting up to speed, or what they wish they knew when they were starting out."

Thanks for reading.

If you like this you might be you are interested in my eBook as well.

I have recently written a book for developer growth & shared my 11+ years of experience.

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Discussion (8)

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lukeshiru profile image
LUKE知る

I generally agree with some items, but...

4. Don't expect hand-holding

Companies should always be open to help new developers grow, and help them in anything they need. Same applies to teams receiving a new teammate. If I notice that a company/team expects me to do/know absolutely everything, I see it as a red flag for sure.

5. Don't try to change things.

Why? Fresh perspectives should be always welcome, even from "junior" developers. This item contradicts item 2, basically because is like the people at the company is saying "I know" to the newcomer. We should always be open to criticism, feedback and opinions, because that will help us actually grow.

8. Turning down happy hour.

If the company expects newcomers to be open to stuff like "happy hour" since the beginning, again, is a red flag. There are folks in our line of work that have difficulties socializing until they get to actually know their teammates, so forcing them to socialize is not ideal. Give them time soe the actually want to go to social events. And if they never do, that's also ok.

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sandordargo profile image
Sandor Dargo

That's totally right!

  1. That's why assign a mentor to everyone. Even for senior people. They might not need help with the tech, but they do need help with finding their ways around.

  2. That's how I opened in the team where I am now. Proposing changes over changes over changes. I know not everyone liked them, but many of those changes were accepted and helped the team to become better and more efficient. After all, who disliked the changes have all left, and the changers (I'm not alone) we are still there and we actively shape the future.

  3. I completely agree. I don't sign up to find new friends, I sign up for work. In working hours. If I happen to make new friendships, even better, but if a company want team events, it should be organized in working hours. I wrote more about this here.

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mikeyglitz profile image
mikeyGlitz • Edited

1- Don't blow off orientation

Even though orientation meetings may be a lot of boring procedural seminars and HR paperwork, this is also a good time to perform some networking and meet other people inside the company. You never know when you might make a new friend or need to call in a favor.

6- Don't be dishonest

As the new person on the team, you're trying to build up your reputation. The easiest way to do that isn't by fronting and pretending that you know it all. Impostor syndrome is real, but you can overcome it. You wouldn't have been hired if the employer didn't believe you were capable of doing the job. When you think that you're bothering teammates for help there's 2 considerations:

  1. Most people are good people and are willing to extend some goodwill to help someone that's struggling

  2. People with seniority have interest in ramping you up. If they can build you up to the point where you can take on work, that's less work they have to deal with.

Just be sure to be conscious and respectful of the other person's time before asking for help. Show a good-faith effort that you tried to figure it out on your own before or have a list of questions to answer before asking for help.

7- Not writing things down

Writing things down is an excellent way to stand out at your new job. Let's be honest, documentation isn't one of the most exciting parts of the job. IMO, documentation should be a part of the SW process -- maybe even a sprint deliverable, but the reality of the matter is not very many internal projects are well documented. By writing project documentation, you not only leave yourself breadcrumbs to come back to later when you've forgotten everything, but you also help future teammates or the inheritors of your project. You also demonstrate to your team that you understand the project.

9- Talking too much about past successes

A new job is a fresh start in a way. You'll do yourself a favor if you let go of past issues from your last job.

10- Take Care of Yourself

This one is especially important in a post-pandemic world. Remember, the first few months of a job are about setting expectations. If you don't take breaks and set boundaries to prioritize yourself, you set the precedent going forward. Should you run at full speed, sooner or later you're going to get a burnout and then people will start asking about your lower productivity numbers. Mental health is very important in knowledge labor positions. You need your creativity and your analytical problem solving abilities. These skills require rest. Don't hurt yourself by burning out.

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eljayadobe profile image
Eljay-Adobe

I'd change #4 to "Don't be afraid to ask for help". Because if you don't ask, you're unlikely to get help, which means you'll be spinning your wheels, frustrated.

That can happen if you're new, or if you've been at the job many years. Software development is hard, and no one knows everything. The best we can do is help one another.

Unless I missed the intent, to me, hand-holding is getting help without asking for it. And that isn't going to happen.

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chrisczopp profile image
chris-czopp

I'd add: get involved and speak up, the fact you're new doesn't mean you have to be a passive learner.

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christyc92 profile image
Christy Campbell

We always tell new starts to not be afraid of using their "new start pass" to ask why things are done a certain way because it quite often opens up a vault of context or gives opportunities to change processes or tools that can't really be justified to a new engineer

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barnabas19 profile image
Barnabas Babatunde

Thanks for putting this together.

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prakh_r profile image
Prakhar Yadav

So true. I am guilty of blowing off the orientation, blowing off the happy hour & not taking care of myself. I'll be conscious about them now. Thanks for sharing valuable suggestions 😊