How to make a good impression during your training contract
When you start out on your training contract, making a good first impression at work and with any new clients is undoubtedly important.
The beginning of your training contract can be a daunting time, with so much to learn and lots of new faces to meet. Making a great first impression isn’t down to luck, as there are lots of things you can do to ensure you get off to a great start.
Here we look at five ways you can make a good first impression at work.
1. Get informed
Although you may have done some background research on your training firm as part of the selection process, refreshing your knowledge before you start your contract, and at key points during the contract, is a good idea.
Being informed will impress your colleagues, as well as boost your own confidence. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to brush up on your firm’s:
- Corporate structure and key departments.
- Main services and the products it offers.
- Senior leadership team.
- Key priorities for the future.
Make a note of anything you’re not sure of and ask questions. This shows you’ve got some initiative and are keen to learn – something every firm wants to see in their budding CAs!
It’s also important to be proactive, rather than relying on colleagues or your manager to tell you where you need to be and who you need to meet.
Get familiar with your weekly schedule and find out about regular team meetings or briefing sessions you should attend and what they will cover. It’s also essential that you keep on top of your diary so that you can plan accordingly.
2. Develop good working relationships
Make the most of your status as a newbie. Because you are new, it’s likely that many of your colleagues will take an interest in you. Make the most of these opportunities to get out there and talk to people.
Aside from understanding the job, developing positive relationships with your colleagues is one of the most important things you can do.
It’s likely that you’ll be following an induction programme which will include meetings with key people. If it doesn’t, it can be really useful to set up short meetings with your colleagues. Make it a priority to find out what they do, and how your role fits with theirs.
Debbie Wilson, Training Principal at Deloitte says:
Go along to your firm’s social events or find out if you can get involved in any community investment projects such as volunteering and fundraising with your firm. This is great way to meet new colleagues from different parts of the business.
3. Get to know the culture
Understanding an organisation’s culture will help you to fit in quicker. Culture isn’t something that’s written down, but is often described as ‘the way we do things rounds here'.
You can get to know the culture by observing what’s going on around you, and adapt as you go along. Key things to look out for are:
- How do people communicate? Is there a reliance on email, or is communication face-to-face meetings, in written memos or more casual catch-ups?
- What is the hierarchy? Does your organisation have a complicated management structure, is it a flat structure? Forbes created a great article on the five types of organisational structure for easy reference.
- What are the meetings like? This goes for internal as well as client meetings. Do they use agendas, minutes and notes of action that are circulated afterwards?
- Who needs to be involved in making decisions? Is there a formal sign-off process or are things agreed on a more informal case-by-case basis?
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If things are getting on top of you or you don’t understand something, it’s really important that you speak out. If you are not sure what you should be doing, don’t carry on regardless in the hope that you’ll be able to muddle through.
Your firm should have a nominated Training Principal, who can help you get to grips with your role. As Debbie says:
It’s important to keep talking to people who have been through the qualification. This will help you realise you aren’t alone, because everyone needs help at times. Whatever the problem is, there will be someone at your firm who can help.
You can talk to your manager as well as your colleagues. Even the most experienced CAs were in your position once, so don’t be afraid to ask for guidance.
Remember that your ICAS tutor team can also be a good source of guidance, as many will have experience of working in practice.
5. Check your progress
Don’t wait for your manager to come to you with feedback – be proactive and ask how you are getting on. It is natural to feel anxious about how you are doing when you first start your training contract, so talk to your manager or Training Principal regularly.
It's also a good idea to check in every 6 months or so for advice on what areas are going well for you, and what areas you can improve upon.
As well as getting practical real-time feedback, it’s good to be seen to be keen, enthusiastic and willing to learn and improve.