Workplace technology spans the spectrum of media, but let's start out with computers. Find out in advance if your new company mainly uses PCs or Macs, and if you're not familiar with the operating system, try to get some training before your first day. Even if you're not completely up to speed, you'll at least know the basics.
The same goes for common software programs. In almost any business, you'll need to know Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point and Outlook. In some cases, you may be using more specialized programs like Adobe Photoshop or QuickBooks. You don't necessarily have to be an expert in all of these programs, but you should know enough to begin learning them quickly if they're important for your job.
If you use a computer regularly on the new job, keep in mind that it's the company's, not yours. Don't use it for personal business. At some places, it may be fine to use a spare minute to browse the Internet, but many companies keep Internet logs and can identify irrelevant use of company computers. You shouldn't be sending or receiving personal e-mails, and don't check your Facebook page or other personal pages. Never gamble, shop or visit pornographic sites -- those are infractions that could get you fired. The same goes for using an iPod, smart phone or other gadgets -- don't use them for personal business at work.
On the flip side, find out before you start whether the company uses social media sites for business purposes. Web sites like LinkedIn and Facebook might be important ways to maintain contacts with colleagues or customers. A survey by the Center for Marketing Research showed that, at the nation's 500 fastest-growing private companies, the use of social networking jumped from 20 percent to 44 percent between 2007 and 2008 [source: Barnes et al]. So make sure you know how to maneuver these social media sites just in case.
When it comes to e-mail, take a businesslike approach by using these tips.
- Don't overuse it. It's often more effective to deal with colleagues face-to-face, especially when you're starting out.
- Don't assume any message will remain private.
- Be especially careful when you click "Reply to all." You may be sending copies of the e-mail unnecessarily or sending inappropriate information to the wrong party.
- Use grammatical English, not the slang that might be OK for texting.
- Spell-check every message.
- Keep it short.
- Never include discriminatory or prejudiced statements.
- Remember that every e-mail is a permanent document.
When you show up at a new workplace, you're joining a team. Read on to learn about how to get along with your new coworkers.