Career Entry Tips

It could be so beautiful: New job, great company, good money. If it weren’t for the many questions. Am I dressed right? Duzen or Siezen? How do boss and colleagues tick? Here comes the signpost that leads beginners safely around the biggest fat cups.

So this is what probation feels like: Alexandra Lau, 26, and Philipp Benke, 28, have just taken up their first permanent position. Since August and September respectively, the Master’s graduates International Affairs and Governance (St. Gallen) and Industrial Engineer (Karlsruhe) have been working as strategy consultants for the management consultancy Capgemini. And many things still feel unfamiliar. “I was really jittery,” Alexandra Lau remembers her feelings when starting her job. “After all, I knew that something completely different would come after university and that it was not certain whether I would be able to master the challenge.

Not only did the expertise of the two newcomers leave something to be desired, “it’s all about organizational things,” Benke adds. “It just took me a while to figure out where I could get my laptop and my cell phone, who set up my equipment and how the travel expense report works.” The two of them are lucky enough to have hired a large company that organizes an intensive familiarization phase with support for the new employees. It happens much more often that job newcomers are thrown directly into the ice-cold water and have to cope on their own.

Whether dress code, lunch break company, Duz factor or working time – between doorman and boss floor, from morning till night, tens of fat cups lurk on newcomers. The worst worst-case scenarios can happen when the job costs a lot of money. However, with a few tips, you can master the course through the probationary period with confidence.

Fat bowl Uncertainty

Simply everything is new in this entry phase, and from all sides names, tasks and information crackle on the freshmen. “The feeling that you have no idea automatically sets in,” says Philipp Benke. The fact that beginners initially protrude from the outside is completely normal, experts say. It takes about a year until a new employee with a challenging task is really well trained.

In the beginning, every presentation, every team meeting and every customer contact feels like a tightrope walk. Career consultant Petra Begemann recommends newcomers: “As simple as it sounds: take as many notes as you can”. That does not appear uncertain under any circumstances, but is considered rather as a sign for the fact that the occupation A RISEr appreciates, which is explained to them.
And: “Sovereignty means being able to stand up for ignorance,” says Begemann.

If a problem arises that the newcomer cannot solve ad hoc, it is advisable to calmly admit to customers and partners that it is the first week in the new company. Don’t forget: Always promise that you will immediately take care of yourself and make yourself smart. And, of course, keep such promises.


You are an open and very spontaneous guy? Then caution is advised. With the “Hoppla-hier-komm-ich-method”, newcomers get stuck in a lot. Restraint is particularly important in the first few days. Coach Christina Tabernig advises: “First of all, explore the environment in peace: Which communication style is cultivated here? How do colleagues and superiors deal with each other?

The personal need for communication can best be satisfied by new employees showing a lot of interest and asking questions. For example, at lunch. Colleagues usually ask whether the beginners would like to come to the canteen. “If that doesn’t happen, however, and you don’t have an invitation until 12 noon, then you can talk to your colleagues and ask them if you can join you,” recommends Knigge expert Tabernig.

Time management

The many new tasks quickly become too much for newcomers, and they sometimes get bogged down in eagerness to solve the very first ones. Beginners should ask their superiors what their priorities are and whether the time they spend on their tasks is appropriate. “This is simply an information debt,” says Petra Begemann. Systematic work with a timer, whether electronic or paper, is also helpful.

It prevents “ad hoc chaotisers from running from one fire to the next without having deleted the first,” says the career consultant. The good old to-do list, which arranges tasks according to urgency, is also simple and indispensable. “And the ticking in the evening is extremely relaxing for stressed beginners,” says Petra Begemann.


Some people are insecure when it comes to clothing and take their outfit out of the closet for the first day. Not a good idea. The suit or costume from that time is still in the memory of the interviewees. After all, they sat together for a long time and intensively. “Basically, it’s better to dress too well than too casually.

I can still adapt later,” recommends Christina Tabernig. She is the founder of the K√∂nigstein agency, which organizes individual coaching sessions and seminars on the subject of business etiquette.

Fat bowl Duzen

How employees address each other depends very much on the nature of the company – its hierarchies, its traditions and the industry itself. In American companies, for example, you dominate. In traditional German companies with pronounced hierarchies, on the other hand, they stick to you, just as they do in traditional industries such as the automotive industry.

Younger and creative industries – IT, media and fashion, for example – have established the Du. “I always recommend you to the beginner, no matter where. As a stranger, I’m never allowed to rush ahead with the you on the first day, but have to be offered it,” Tabernig explains.


In a new job, everything else often depends on the first impression. It’s nice when the boss introduces the new employee to colleagues in a meeting, for example. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that all department employees are gathered there.

In order to avoid discourtesy towards secretaries, for example, it is a good idea to visit all department colleagues personally on the first day, introduce yourself with your full name and emphasise that you are happy to be part of the team from now on. It is also possible to find out whether a drink is appropriate at the start – this prevents a sin of omission that is difficult to make up.

Working hours

The working hours can be clarified in advance. Of course you don’t want to be late on the first day. That’s why it’s better to take a train earlier and arrive at your new workplace relaxed, in a good mood and not sweaty. Beginners enter their new company best on time, but not more than ten minutes earlier than desired. Otherwise they may stand around like counterfeit money until their contact person arrives.

This is embarrassing for both sides. Freshmen shouldn’t insist on fixed start and end times, but should show themselves variable when special tasks require an extra shift, for example.

Cuddle factor

If you catch someone despite all the anticipation for the new job blues position, you don’t have to hang your head. That’s completely normal, too. “Beginners simply have tremendous stress. They gradually realize that their new employer doesn’t just have chocolate sides.

They miss the warmth of a nest. And the autopilot function, which is increasingly used with confidence, is still missing,” explains career consultant Begemann.

Most beginners only really feel comfortable at work when the first private contacts have been made. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink together after work,” says Christina Tabernig, “but there are a few rules for this: if you’re a man and want to go out with a colleague, you should ask another person to do so, “otherwise it’ll quickly become intrusive”.

And when it comes to small talk, especially for newcomers to the job, it’s important to be extremely cautious when blaspheming and divulging secrets, even if it’s tempting. Many have already burnt their mouths in the process.