Your First Day of Work

Your first day of work will be your most important. In order to settle in well you need to make sure you are prepared in every respect for the special day.

 

Get an early night

Aim to get a good night’s sleep in order to avoid dark eyes and yawning on your first day. Moreover, you will be taking in a lot of information on your first day therefore it is essential that you are alert. Wake up early and have a big breakfast to give you the energy for the day, especially if you are not sure how the lunchtime routine works.

 

Over-prepare

Before starting, make sure you read about the company. Any background reading that can be done before you start will help you get a grasp of the job.Make sure you know exactly where your new office is and try to do a practice route beforehand taking into account rush-hour traffic. Aim to turn up between five and ten minutes early.

Give yourself plenty of time to get ready. Overdress rather than under dress if you are not sure of the office dress code. Try to remember the names of anyone you have met so far in the interview process. Bring all necessary documents with you; this includes your passport, bank details and social security number.

 

Be Alert

Every office has a different working environment. French work culture tends to separate personal and work life whereas the Anglo-Saxon culture tries to mix the two. Make assessments of what is socially acceptable at work. This includes dress code, eating habits and general office culture. If you are invited to any social opportunities, whether it is lunch or drinks after work, the answer should always be yes!

It is essential to take in as much information as possible on your first day; not only people’s names but passwords and door numbers etc. Listen carefully to what you are told and respect the comments and opinions of others. Be inquisitive and ask questions, especially if you are unsure of something. Other employees will understand that you are new and will be patient whilst you are learning.

 

Things to avoid

  • Technology should be turned off and put away. Only bring your mobile phone out if someone wants to give you their number.
  • Avoid lying and sweeping exaggerations.  If you intend on spending any considerable time at your new job, any secrets or lies will come to the surface eventually.
  • Although it is important to have fresh breath, chewing gum is strictly forbidden on first days. Wait until you are settled in before you make a decision whether it is acceptable or not to chew gum.
  • Avoid swear words and slang and being too amicable. Calling your boss “mate” on your first day would not be appreciated.

 

Conclusion

The first day is essential to get settled in at your new job and to make a good first impression. However, it is important not to put too much pressure on yourself and avoid getting flustered. Your future colleagues will get to know the real you eventually. Remember to relax, smile and enjoy your first day.

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Is Honesty The Best Policy?

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Have you ever lied in an interview or at work? The answer is probably. Basic human instinct is survival… therefore, exaggerating, omitting and embellishing the truth are often used to cut ahead of the rest in order to get hired or promoted. In an ideal world in which career progression were easy, honesty would of course be the best policy. But with youth unemployment at 22.8%[i] in France and promotions harder to come by, how much do you need to lie to survive in the recruitment process or is honesty really the best policy?

 

The CV

 

The first impression an employer gets from a candidate is their CV… it’s sink or swim!  It is not surprising that 53% of CVs contain falsehoods to survive this stage[ii].  These falsehoods may consist of made-up experiences or skills and even stretching dates of employment, resulting in a more employable and impressive candidate. But beware… whitewashing the truth on your CV rather than merely embroidering it is becoming more dangerous. There has been a recent rise in pre-employment screenings caused by the high demand for jobs; now candidates that have lied are being found out in the first round.

 

The Interview

 

The second impression that an employer gets in the recruitment stage comes from the interview. Candidates will primarily be asked about their CV and if they have not been honest they risk getting caught in their own web of lies and botching their interview.  Some questions, however, may require the candidate to exclude information and facts. Common interview advice is to avoid any negativity towards previous jobs. If asked “Why did you leave your previous job?” an honest reply such as “because I hated my boss…” is not an appropriate answer. Omission of the truth can often be essential in order to keep within the professional boundaries of an interview and to ensure a good impression is made.

 

The Workplace

 

Once in the workplace, careful attention must be paid. Lies are regularly used as a safety net to avoid punishment having made an error. Excuses such as “My alarm clock didn’t go off this morning” should be left in the playground as an apology is more effective in these menial cases. In more serious cases lying to cover up fatal errors or to put yourself ahead of anyone else is more treacherous. This can result in chronic lies causing paranoia and insecurities within the workplace until the truth eventually comes out. In fact, 15% of employees in today’s businesses have been caught lying while at work[iii]. Once found out as a liar the employee’s relationships and reputation will be permanently damaged and they risk losing their job.

Most bosses will be appreciative when told the truth rather than a cover up. Honesty is viewed as courageous whereas dishonesty is cowardice. Statistically, employees who told fewer lies had better relationships and smoother interactions within the workplace[iv]. An honest employee’s credibility and integrity speaks for itself, giving that person increased opportunities since the honest employee has proven themselves.  Furthermore, the peace of mind associated with a moral outlook in the office will result in higher productivity and happiness.

The Answer

In conclusion, there is far more to lose than gain from lying. When applying for a job it is understandable to want to present yourself in the most flattering light, especially in the current market. However, honesty is also highly valued and appreciated in the workplace and can be counted on as the best policy. The advice to give would be: Do not have a reason to be dishonest in the first place. Prove yourself to be a great candidate and employee on your own merit rather than lie and risk your reputation and job.

 

 Alternatively, lie your way to the top… just don’t get caught!

‘Tis the season to be jolly!

Now that the day of Saint Nicolas has been and gone, the unopened doors on the advent calendar are becoming fewer and fewer and the bitter winter cold is here to stay, it is probably time to turn your thoughts to the festivities taking place. If it’s your first time working in an Anglophone or a French company, you may be surprised to learn that there are a few cultural differences concerning the festive celebrations that take place in the workplace.

 

Image via kelp1966

Firstly, adhering to the stereotype of doing things on time, all Christmas festivities in Anglophone business environments take place before Christmas. Christmas cards are sent well in advance to avoid the Christmas rush and the infamous office Christmas parties where drunken frivolities and red faces the morning after are commonplace , usually take place in December or even November. Colleagues also usually participate in ‘Secret Santa’; for those unaware of the concept, everyone is randomly assigned a person, for whom they must anonymously buy a gift.   It is a great money-saving alternative to buying everyone a present in the office!  Finally, in most Anglophone countries, Boxing Day (26th December) is a bank holiday, so you could be lucky enough to have another day off!

In most French businesses on the other hand, Christmas festivities continue well into the New Year. ‘Meilleurs Voeux’ cards take the place of Christmas cards and you could still be receiving cards until the end of January! Also, the tradition of the ‘Galette des Rois’ to mark Epiphany is an integral part of the celebrations where the ‘drawing of Kings’ takes place.  A charm (la fève) is placed in the cake, in a similar way to the sixpence in a Christmas pudding.  The youngest member of the group goes under the table and names the recipient of each share of the galette. The lucky person to receive the slice with the charm is designated as King or Queen for the day – they are usually given a crown to wear for the day as well!

Galette des Rois. Image via u m a m i

Those are just a few examples of the different celebrations that take place in Anglophone and French workplaces, what are you doing to celebrate Christmas in your office?

MAKE YOUR LANGUAGES WORK FOR YOU: How being bilingual can help you get ahead!

It is well-acknowledged that one of the best ways to get ahead in your career and broaden your horizons is to learn a foreign language. Whether companies are conducting business overseas or fighting for a larger market share at home, employers are increasingly seeking out bilingual workers. A recent “CareerBuilder.com” keyword search turned up more than 1,000 job postings seeking bilingual applicants in the United States alone.

The more professional contacts you can communicate with, the more versatile and thus more valuable you become. Broadly speaking, Mandarin, English, Spanish and Arabic are some of the most widely spoken tongues in the world. Though it is impossible to ascertain exact figures, estimates for English vary between 250 and 450 million. In terms of languages used most widely in an official capacity, the list is topped by English (57 countries), followed by French at 28, then Arabic, Spanish, Russian and Portuguese.

The lure of living the expat life can also provide strong motivation to acquire a second language, with the United Arab Emirates topping the tables with an expat population of more than 70%. Within Europe, over 30% of Luxembourg’s population is expats, though in terms of quantity, Germany leads the way with over 10 million non-native inhabitants, followed swiftly by France. To stand a chance in the increasingly competitive expat job market amongst the 3 million Britons currently working abroad, developing your language competencies is vital.

The key to making a language work for you is taking a thorough approach. Once you have attained a high enough standard, you must work hard to maintain it. Remember, if you don’t use it, you lose it! This necessitates extra effort outside of the work environment, to avoid it becoming a dormant and unused skill on your CV. Preferred methods vary from person to person and can be tailored to your interests. Enrolling on a conversation exchange programme, for example on http://www.linguapassion.com/?lang=en, can be an enjoyable way to practise and meet like-minded people, whilst other options include watching films and reading novels in the original language.

Although at the outset it may seem like an uphill struggle to attain operational fluency in a foreign language, if you are willing to put in the time now, the long-term value of your linguistic skills cannot be overestimated!