8 things you can’t do when you’re new to the job – but they’ll be okay to do later

When you’re new to a job, you’re subject to a whole different set of rules than you are once you’ve been there longer. Because your new coworkers don’t know you well yet, small behaviors can carry more weight, and actions that might go unnoticed six months down the road can raise concerns early on about your work ethic, reliability, and judgment.

Here are  things that you shouldn’t do when you’re new to the job – but which are okay to do later on.

1. Asking for vacation time during your first few months. In most cases, taking time off soon after starting a job will raise eyebrows. Your manager is likely to think, “She just started, she’s still being trained, and she already wants time off?” Exceptions to this are if a close family member is seriously ill or if you cleared the time off before accepting the job.

2. Complaining to your coworkers about your new boss. Frankly, it’s not great to complain to your coworkers about your boss no matter how long you’re been at your job – but when you’re new, it comes across as especially tone-deaf. Even coworkers who aren’t your manager’s biggest fans are likely to be put off by it, simply because complaining so early on signals that you’re likely to be a prima donna who doesn’t even settle in before finding fault. Similarly…

3. Badmouthing your old job or old boss. Once they know you better, your new coworkers might be thrilled to hear your war stories about your crazy former boss or your nightmare cubicle mate at your old job. But if you share that stuff when you’re new, you’ll just come across as someone willing to badmouth colleagues, and people are more likely to think, “Wow, that’s going to be us she’s talking about one day.” Wait until you know each other better before you break out the work horror stories.

4. Taking long lunches before you know the lunch culture of your new workplace. This sometimes trips people up when they’re coming from a workplace where hour-long lunches were the norm, but are moving to an office where people take half an hour or simply eat at their desks. When you’re starting a new job, it’s smart to observe the lunch culture for a few days until you have a feel for your new office’s norms. Or, it’s also fine to ask a coworker, “What do people normally do for lunch?”

5. Pushing the envelope on business expenses. As the new guy, there’s no faster way to torpedo your reputation than asking to stay at a more expensive hotel during business travel or rent a higher class car. Once you’ve established yourself as a great employee, you might be able to get away with arguing the merits of these things – but if you try it as a new employee, it will define you in a way that will hurt you.

6. Using bawdy humor. It might never be okay to do this in your workplace, but there are certainly some workplaces that have a higher tolerance for risqué humor than others. However, if you plunge right in without getting to know your new coworkers better, you risk alienating and offending people if you’ve read them wrong. Wait until you have a much better feel for your new office’s culture before breaking out even borderline jokes (and even then, proceed with caution – just because you’ve seen one person doing it doesn’t mean that everyone else is comfortable with it).

7. Spending time on Facebook or other social sites. Once you’ve proven yourself as someone who works hard and produces high-quality work, it might be entirely fine to take the occasional Facebook break. But when you’re new on the job, being spotted on time-wasting sites is likely to make your coworkers – and especially your manager – worry about your work ethic.

8. Calling in sick during your first month, unless it’s truly dire. Rightly or wrongly, if you call in sick while you’re new on the job, your manager is likely to worry that it’s going to be the start of pattern and that you’re not reliable. Of course, if you’re truly sick and especially if you’re contagious, you might have no choice – but in that case, you should make it clear that it’s an unusual occurrence. It doesn’t hurt to add, “I’m mortified that this happened during my first month.” The idea is that you want to reassure your new manager that this isn’t the first of many absences.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 155 comments… read them below }

  1. Carrie in Scotland*

    #1 is not really applicable for the UK and maybe even more European-wide – at least nowhere I have ever worked (maybe a high pressure job like law/banking etc would). This is possibly because we have more holiday/annual leave than our US/Canadian counterparts though! I started my current job in June and have 11 days annual leave to take (it ends on Sept 30th – education) and keep on getting asked by my head of dept if I’ve had any holidays yet!

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      Yeah, this is probably a thing unique to UK/Europe. It would be unusual in the US for a new employee to have 11 days of leave to take between June and September. Even with the really generous leave plan my university has the most leave you’d HAVE to take would be 3 days. And that’s only if you started in December and had to use your personal days before the end of the year.

      1. Chinook*

        Even in Canada, where vacation is accrued from the moment you start, taking time off in the first 3 months without a very good reason is unheard of (think family emergency, contagious illness, etc). In fact, most places out right restrict your use of vacation and sick leave time in your 3 month probationary period even though it is sitting there for you to use and they would have to pay it out if you left.

        1. KarenT*

          Seconded. I’d even say the first six months, unless you are in a job where you are supposed to take your vacation time during a certain part of the year.

        2. Raine*

          This. In fact, even with an emergency a new employee’s only option might be unpaid leave. In addition to it being a probationary period, vacation and sick time off tends to be accruing but not yet available to take.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        Yes, it’s definitely a European thing! We work with a web design firm and they are off from the 8th until the end of August, and they said they must take 75% of their vacation at this time! Wow! 3 weeks all at once. Seems like whole countries just shut down.

      3. Annie*

        I don’t have a job yet and I’m stressing out about the fact that my cousin is getting married on a Friday in October- I am doing a reading (I accepted that about 6 months ago) and can’t back out now so I’m super concerned about how I’m going to explain that one.

          1. Kyle*

            What if you did something wrong at work and they give a warning for, but you are really sorry and if you work hard can they take the warning off your record, well mine over time

    2. Rebecca Too*

      I don’t know. I’m Irish, and I think in some ways its right.

      I think it would be ok to start planning your leave, so if you start in February, you put in after a while to take your holidays in August, because you have to book etc. But I think taking a week or more off in the first few months (say three), if you hadn’t already cleared it when you were offered the job would seem a bit strange.

      For example, I think when I’m first in a job I’d also avoid taking the Friday of a bank holiday weekend off, just until you get a sense of what’s ok and what’s not.

    3. UK Anon*

      I think it also depends on when you start. If you start towards the end of the holiday year, most places I know of will actively encourage you to take holiday, even in the first couple of months, so that they don’t have to pay you extra at the end of the year instead.

    4. David Meza*

      Hello. I started a new job with two weeks sick and two weeks vacation. Upon my third week there my wife had a miscarriage and we took it pretty hard. My boss used it as a point of contention later on and put me on a performance plan and now I’m fired. So yeah, unless you are hooked up to a ventilator and are in coma, don’t call in sick

      1. Sarahnova*

        I’m sorry for (both of your) loss, and that is some bull. The US’s employment laws (or lack of same) do horrify me frequently; they seem to be so often deployed with no humanity whatsoever.

      2. Cucumber*

        That’s incredibly callous of your ex-boss. I’m so sorry you and your wife had your loss compounded by his bad behavior.

    5. De (Germany)*

      While we accrue vacation as soon as we start, it’s up to the employer whether to grant leave during the probation period of the first six months. They usually do, but they don’t have to.

  2. Dutch Thunder*

    Oh, the calling in sick thing. It’s so horrible to have to do, but sometimes you just don’t have a choice.

    When I started at my current job, I started taking public transport. I clearly wasn’t used to the germ fest, because by week two I had the biggest cold I’ve had in years. I kept showing up to work but my kind team sent me home when they realised I was drugged up on pain killers and running a fever. Interestingly, the next guy to join our team had the exact same experience.

    I feel that you can’t help getting sick. If you’re sick, you’re sick – and you don’t get to pick the timing. I wish there wasn’t such a taboo. Making people feel guilty over something completely involuntary seems counterproductive and a little mean.

    In my case, I tried to make it clear that I was hard working and trying to work despite being sick, and fortunately I work for a company that recognises people aren’t robots. At this point they know I work hard, but I’m glad they didn’t jump to any conclusions when I first started.

    1. Jennifer*

      I went into work with the flu (didn’t know that was what it was) in my first few months working here. Pretty much for this kind of logic, plus I got raised by parents who stressed Perfect Attendance and never, ever not coming in to work. They sent me home after I was passing out on the keyboard.

      However, some work places would have made me stay, passing out or not. Some are okay with people being sick and some are not.

      What I’ve learned is: call in sick if you can’t physically type, sit up, or move far away from a toilet/sink. Anything else: by god, you come in. I say this as someone who has the nasty bug going around the office right now and has had it all month: if I was out for 2 weeks straight with this thing because every day I was sick, coughing like hell, and sneezing a lot, I’d be in trouble. I’ve taken 2 sick days off for it, but every day you are out, you only get more behind and have more work anyway. It’s not worth it unless you’re THAT ill at 7 a.m.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        Is prefer it as a manager if you don’t come in when you are that ill. This isn’t grade school where there is some kind of award for sucking it up. But now, I’m stuck managing someone who is most likely unable to perform that day, plus have to deal with other staff shortages when they get sick.

        Please, stay home. For what it’s worth, I also was a child of parents who put an emphasis on perfect attendance :)

        1. KellyK*

          Personally, I’m with you (if you’re sick, stay the heck home!), but if someone is working in a “come in unless you’re dead” environment, they’re kind of stuck with it.

        2. Jennifer*

          It was very early in my working career–I’d been out of college less than a year. And I had come from 16 straight years of “You can never miss class! NEVER EVER FOR ANY REASON INCLUDING DEATH!” brainwashing. (Especially at the college I went to, which makes a huuuuuuge deal if you miss one day.)

        3. Layla*

          I know. I sent a woman home today who had vomiting and diarrhea because she felt she had to come. My mentality is it’s far better to take care of self than making sure 12 more teapots get made, because the 12 teapots won’t get made anyway.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      This happened to me too. I started a new job and almost immediately caught the “creeping crud” that had been going around the office for several weeks before I got there.

      Fortunately, since many of my new colleagues had already succumbed to the bug in the weeks before I arrived, they knew exactly how bad it was and sent me straight home. I took off two or three days in my first two weeks — eek! I had plenty of other issues with that place by the time I quit, but how they handled sick time wasn’t one of them.

    3. Bea W*

      Not to mention when you come in sick, you share it with all your co-workers and depending on office culture that could be worse than calling in sick. I wish people could and would be more selfish about their germs. It’s better for them for a quicker recovery and better for the office. It’s making things worse to make everyone else suck too!

  3. Elizabeth West*

    I got some kind of crud during my first month. My workplace does NOT want you in the office if you’re ill. They even have little pamphlets sitting around that say, “No hotheads in here! Stay home if you have a fever!” It was no big deal–they would rather have had me stay home for a day than come in and spread it around!

  4. TotesMaGoats*

    #8 is the only one I disagree with on what to say. If you don’t feel good, yeah, go to work. But if you are really sick, something you usually can’t control, then why should you be “mortified” if you have to miss a day in the first few months. What if you were in a car accident and broke a bone and was out the next day. “I’m so mortified that I was hit by another car and broke my leg and will miss a day of work.” The normal apologetic tone that most people have when legitimately calling out sick should suffice. Mortified seems overboard.

    1. Kai*

      Yeah, a car accident is one thing–I wouldn’t use that language for something so serious. But if it’s a little cold, or some illness that isn’t noticeable, it’s important to let people who don’t know you well know that you’re not just playing hooky.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I was in week number 3 of New Job and had a dilly of an accident. Instant 6 weeks out of work.
        You know, the time out of work was more stressful than the accident injuries.

        After a few days, I hobbled into work to see my boss. (Walking was an effort and I was pretty sweaty by the time I got to the office.) Well, my injuries were pretty obvious. The boss thanked me for coming in and touching base. I said a picture is worth a thousand words. I told him I wanted him to see this, so he would understand why everything is taking so long. I also used it as an opportunity to tell him, I cared about my job and I planned on being back as quickly as possible. I was glad I made the effort, it seemed to help my relationship with the company and my boss was definitely glad I took the time to chat. (He also made it clear I did not have to hobble in there again! PHEW!)

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You wouldn’t say that you’re mortified that you were hit by a car, no, but you might say that you were mortified to be missing work so early on.

      1. Dutch Thunder*

        This just seems overly apologetic to me. These things happen. I wouldn’t be mortified if I were missing work because I got hit by a car. I would appreciate it’s terrible timing, but expect everyone to understand that this wasn’t something I’d done for fun.

        The bad timing isn’t anyone’s fault and any employer worth their good employees would surely understand? Maybe this is different in Europe, but I just can’t see why anyone should have to be mortified.

        1. Claire*

          Yeah, I wouldn’t be mortified. And I wouldn’t say I was. Sorry, sure. But mortification is overkill for something I have no control over. And if an employee told me they were mortified to be absent due to illness, I’d think they were being OTT and weird. It’s just too strong a term for something like this.

        2. Cat*

          I feel like the issue is that there are a certain number of people who abuse sick time. When you’ve first started, your employer has no data about whether you’re one of those people or not and so it behooves you to signal that you’re not. I mean, it’s not irredeemable – if you work another year and call in sick a normal amount, they’ll figure it out. But still, better to signal that up front.

          1. Dan*

            I think it really comes down to an assumption that few people ever get sick enough to miss work, period. Or that missing work for illness shows some kind of weakness.

            Let’s face it, this whole thread is taking on a tone of having to “justify” a sick day, as if people have control over they get sick. (And frankly, if starting a new job makes you change your routine and your body doesn’t take to it too well, then one *could* actually be more likely to get sick early on.)

            Shouldn’t people be naturally getting the benefit of the doubt that they are not sick leave abusers? And only deemed such once they’ve proven otherwise? If people get five paid sick days, it’s honestly hard to abuse that in the first place. But to hold someone’s feet to the fire when they take one of those days in the first six months?

            That’s why I’ve liked companies that throw sick leave and vacation in the same bucket. I’ve never been accused of abusing anything when I’ve taken the four to five weeks I’ve been allotted. I know critics say that those policies encourage those people to actually come to work more often when they’re actually sick, but I’ve yet to work for a company with a designated sick time bank where actually taking the sick time was encouraged. So in both cases I guess coworkers are coming to work sick.

            1. fposte*

              You’re arguing how people should be viewed, and I don’t disagree with your underlying point. But the employee who gets the plague in week two doesn’t have any control over how it should be viewed, just about how it might be viewed. Acknowledging that this is inconvenient and not ideal can help control that.

            2. Mimmy*

              (And frankly, if starting a new job makes you change your routine and your body doesn’t take to it too well, then one *could* actually be more likely to get sick early on.)

              I can absolutely attest to this as this happened to me during the first week or so of my second-year MSW internship back in 2005. The routine was much, much different from what I’d been used to (much longer commute, riding on crowded busses, and faster-paced work environment), so I got a cold pretty quickly. I had other stuff going on too. I still went in, but one of the social workers chided me because my cough sounded bad.

      2. Chinook*

        I have to agree that being “mortified” for missing work is the right toen to take. I once missed a day as a temp because I had kidney stones. When I called from the ER, high on pain killers, I was truly mortified and explained that I wouldn’t normally not show up for work unless it was an emergency (DH then took the phone from me to explain I wouldn’t be there the next day either and made arrangements to return my office pass and key because he wasn’t slurring words)

        1. Chinook*

          And, as a Canadian, mortified is the only way to show that this was more than a polite “I’m sorry for the inconvinience” that you would give for say bumping into someone.

          1. Felicia*

            Haha I love how you added the “as a Canadian” part! It’s so true :) Our culture of politeness probably does sound like overkill to others. You forgot to mention that we also need to say sorry when someone else bumps into US.

            Though this does remind me of a few months back where we were talking here about how North Americans tend to use more hyperbolic language when talking about emotions than other cultures. I forget the thread but it was how North Americans would say they were excited about something that really wasn’t exciting or something along those lines. It was fascinating!

      3. Dan*

        I’m not sure what dictionary Google uses, but it defines mortified as:

        “cause (someone) to feel embarrassed, ashamed, or humiliated.” I feel neither one of those things for getting a legitimate illness causing me to miss work within the first few months of employment.

        If I drive a clunker that sometimes breaks down and I’m late for work, I’m embarrassed that I can’t afford a better ride. If I oversleep, ’cause my alarm didn’t go off, I’m embarrassed because I can’t use technology properly or that I forget things.

        But my body crapping out in the first three months of employment and causing me to miss work, particularly if it’s over the winter time when flu season comes around? That’s a fact of life and nothing to be embarrassed about.

        For whatever reason, we’ve stigmatized sick time in this society so much so that taking one day early on in an employment tenure is something to “justify”. It doesn’t get all that much easier once you’ve been established at that workplace either. If you work somewhere where taking sick leave Will Get Noticed, it doesn’t matter when you take it.

        My place has a general PTO bank. It certainly takes away the stigma of being sick.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s not that you’re embarrassed to have the flu; it’s that you’re embarrassed to be missing work in your first month. I’d certainly feel embarrassed about that, and I think a lot of other people would too. To reiterate: not embarrassed about being sick. Embarrassed about missing work when you’re brand new.

          And letting your manager know that says “this isn’t someone who’s cavalier about missing work when they’re brand new.” That’s useful because now your manager doesn’t need to worry about whether or not you are — which most managers will when you’re that new, unfairly or not, because they don’t yet know enough about you. And many managers have seen enough new employees where the totally legitimate-sounding flu in month 1 is the start of a pattern of constantly calling out. If you can assuage that with one sentence, it makes sense to.

        2. Anonymous*

          Just because it’s a fact of life that shouldn’t be taken as an indication of some sort of character flaw, doesn’t mean the stigma isn’t there. It’s perfectly reasonable for people to feel shame or humiliation even if they *know* better because of their life experiences.

          I think having paid time off or official days may affect how people process the stigma of being sick. Simply having them is an acknowledgment that sickness is expected and there’s a management plan for it (even if you get grief for actually using it). If you don’t get paid time off or could be fired for not coming in, I think that sends a much stronger work-no-matter-what message that’s hard to shake.

      4. Meg Murry*

        I think this discussion comes up almost every time Alison uses the word “mortified”. For her, its the right word. For someone else, that might be too much – use embarrassed, use sorry, use the word that you would use – just let it be known that you’re not taking this casually.

        1. Mimmy*

          This!! Just because Alison uses specific wording doesn’t mean it’s absolute. Use the words that make you sound like YOU.

        2. Kelly O*

          Exactly. I think it goes without saying you should not have AAM open, reading Alison’s responses to things. Just like you wouldn’t plagiarize a cover letter, or change your name to hers in the even people might think you’d be a better manager because you share the same name.

          It’s the idea of expressing sincere apologies for being out sick when you’re still fairly new to the office. That’s all.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          I can be mortified all I want, but that won’t change the fact that I am sick. (It might even make my illness take longer to heal.)
          However, I took mortified as an expression/example of the attitude to convey in these situations. “I am upset that I am missing so much work do to my injuries.” Or an expression of regret, “I would give anything to be at training right now, I was so looking forward to it.”
          This is going to vary from one person to another, say something sincere, to acknowledge the employer’s concern.

          Unfortunately, Alison needs to express it in this dramatic way because (IMO) there are people out there who think nothing of missing work. I have had people just go AWOL on me. One employer I worked for was missing an employee for a few weeks. Finally when the employee called he was half way across the country. He ran out of gas money. My employer paid it because the employee had my employer’s vehicle. (I am not sure which part of that story boggles my mind the most.)

          Anyway. Mortified. Missing work is a big deal. And if an employee does not see it as such that will be one mark against the employee. Next, the employer will start looking to see if there are any other problems that need to be addressed. Alison would be missing the boat if she did not stress this point.

      5. TotesMaGoats*

        I get this this is turning into a word usage debate. But I’m trying to think about how much work I missed in my first six months. It was at least a solid week. I had A LOT of anxiety when I started my current job (6 years ago). Like put me in the hospital/migraines anxiety. It really impacted my immune system and I got a really nasty virus that had me passing out in the shower (never a good thing) and a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. I think the first couple days I was out sick there was an “I’m sorry to do this” in the email because I was missing training but after that it was just “I’m so sick/I’m in the hospital and can’t move”.

        I think the only way I’d be mortified by an absence is if I did something like let my car run out of gas the day before a new job started or knowingly spent time with someone with a contagious illness. My sister just had pink eye and strep (she’s a nurse), I didn’t see her for 3 days and didn’t hug her for a week.

        1. Dan*

          I get the word-usage debate kabosh when a poster gets beaten up for using a word where the meaning is misunderstood. IOW, what I meant isn’t exactly what you think I said.

          But words are the essence of how we communicate. Since AAM’s in the advice giving business, it *is* fair to try and understand the tone and context in which a message should be delivered. Because different words do mean different things to different people, it is fair to point that out and ask if it’s been delivered in the manner and spirit in which it has been intended.

          I actually had to look up the definition of “mortified” to see how well it fit here, as it’s a word I don’t see often outside this blog. In past advice, it’s always been used to describe avoidable errors, in an “OMG I can’t believe I did that! I’ll never, ever do it again, and here’s the steps I’m going to take to ensure it!” That just doesn’t seem to be the right tone for getting legitimately sick and missing work early in a tenure.

          The whole point is to express ownership of a problem and its consequences, and I just don’t see a whole lot of need to take ownership of something relatively unavoidable and the resulting effects. It’s the equivalent of “I’m sorry you feel that way” (and I’m not sorry for what I said.)

      6. LJL*

        I threw my back out in the third week of a new job. I could barely move. I still came in so that my boss could see that I was obviously in pain; as a matter of fact, she sent me home. With something contagious, I wouldn’t set the bar so high, but I felt mortified that my back had to go out so early on. In that case, it was the right move.

    3. The IT Manager*

      I agree with Totes. I think “mortified” is a good word to use when you make a mistake especially a big one, but not for being sick even in the first month. I’d be mortified if I overslept and was late to work because of that.

      For sick leave, I might add something like “I’m sorry about the timing because I rarely have need to use sick days,” but I wouldn’t say I was moritfied about being ill or staying home for work because of it.

    4. DLB*

      A gal my husband knows showed up for her first day at a job. Goes outside at lunch to take a call and as assaulted by a homeless person. Punched in the face, kicked in the side, the face. She was very lucky no bones were broken. Spent 2 days in the hospital and a week at home under orders to do nothing but lie down. Thankfully her new company was very understanding and made sure her insurance was in place and everything.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        The company should have been mortified! At the very least, whoever was training her should have warned her about the unsafe conditions outside.

        1. Nina*

          I thought they handled it OK. For what it’s worth, we don’t know if the company was aware that he was hanging around the building. He could have been hiding in a nearby doorway or bush or something. And being homeless doesn’t necessarily mean someone is dangerous.

    5. Laura2*

      Yeah, I think “mortified” would sound kind of insincere (at least coming out of my mouth, maybe other people can pull that one off better), because I wouldn’t be mortified, or even really embarrassed. I’d be sorry for the inconvenience.

    6. Turtle Candle*

      I was in a serious car accident within my first few months of working at my first job–while fortunately it didn’t result in any serious injuries, I had to take a couple of days off.

      I didn’t apologize for it (I certainly didn’t feel that it was my fault that someone rear-ended me on a freeway), and I didn’t apologize for taking the time off, but I did acknowledge that it was bad timing. I think it was something like, “I wanted to let you know that I was in a car accident yesterday. I’m okay but I’ll need to take the next X days off work because of it. I hate that it’s so early in my employment, it’s pretty rotten timing. Let me know if there’s anything I should know in the next few days, and I expect to be back on [date].”

      It wasn’t apologizing or saying I was embarrassed (because to me that implies some culpability, whereas this was completely not my fault; I mean, given a choice between coming in to work and having my car totaled, I’d alllllways choose coming in to work), but it acknowledged that it’s weird/awkward timing.

      1. Christine*

        I like this.

        I have changed my tone in the last year or so, to be less apologetic/embarrassed about things outside my control. I used to feel like I needed to be that way if I was somehow involved an event that inconvenienced someone in some way. Now I take a beat and think about whether something actually merits an apology before I issue one. If I am using the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” with you, I am using them mindfully, and that means that a) I goofed up somehow, and b) I will be taking steps to avoid goofing up in the future. If both of those don’t apply, then I find other words to address the situation.

        1. Jean*

          I liked your comment and also the comment by Turtle Candle. There’s a big difference between acknowledging that a situation is less than ideal and feeling personally responsible when someone else is disappointed or inconvenienced by a situation not entirely of one’s own creation (e.g. car crash, illness, assault vs. deliberately creating a hangover).

      2. Laura*

        I love this wording. It says you strongly appreciate how bad it is, and you’re not happy about it either. It says you’d rather be there. But it doesn’t say or imply that you’re at fault or feel at fault for it. Wonderful!

  5. Marina*

    I recently discovered that these are also important tips to keep in mind when you get a new supervisor, no matter how long you’ve been at the job. I got really frustrated when a new supervisor wouldn’t give me the benefit of the doubt on these things, until I realized that they’re based on trust, and I simply hadn’t built up trust with her yet. It was frustrating to get more strict in areas where I’d had flexibility for years, but it really doesn’t take that long to build up that trust, and it’s definitely worth it.

    1. ali*

      very true! I’m now on my 3rd supervisor for my current job (in 2 years, due to re-orgs). Each one is almost like starting a new job. Thankfully I’ve been able to quickly re-establish the processes and flexibility I’d had with the previous managers. When getting a new supervisor, rather than starting a new job, it helps that they can look at your track record and see how awesome you are – that goes a long way in establishing trust, especially if they respect the previous manager’s opinion.

  6. some1*

    Great list! I think paying attention to your dept’s culture is really important. If no one else does something like listens to music at their desk (on a radio or headphones), or takes personal calls at their desk, it’s probably not the best idea.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes, I was coming to say the same thing – unofficial rules and culture matter almost as much as the official rules! For instance, there was a thread a while back (can’t remember if it was a question Alison answered or an open thread) about a new coworker that took loud personal calls in the lunchroom while others were trying to eat lunch. The current coworkers were frustrated with her, but the new coworker probably came from a place where the policy (official or otherwise) was to take personal calls only in the lunchroom, never at her desk. Same thing with another thread about a woman who answered texts and calls from her kids at her desk – at some companies that’s fine as long as you are getting your work done – at other companies that’s an activity for official breaks only.

    2. the gold digger*

      Or if there is an office radio, do not turn it off. Or, more importantly, because you recognize that you should not turn it off, as crazy as it is making you, make sure that your boss does not turn it off and then tell everyone it’s because you don’t like it.

  7. Holly*

    Re: Facebook – that depends on the culture. I’ve been here for two years and have a very hefty track record of success here, but even I got pulled aside recently and told to “get your Buzzfeed somewhere else.” (They admitted this was only because I was out in the open and that people in corners/in their offices are free to do it whenever…ugh.)

    Re: sick – this drives me crazy. I got a very nasty flu/cold/sinus infection in the middle of my 3 month probation period and had to come to work wrapped in a fleece blanket and a trenchcoat, shivering and sneezing and feeling absolutely terrible, all because it wasn’t allowed for me to take the time off.

    1. Dutch Thunder*

      That sounds just dreadful, Holly! I just don’t get how expecting people to come in under those conditions, just because they’re new, serves anyone. You’re just going around infecting more people and struggling to learn anything properly because you’re unwell.

      I appreciate there’s an element of wanting to know people aren’t calling in sick for a mild cough, but you’d hope they hired you because they thought you were decent people, so your new employer could give you the benefit of the doubt. Address it if it becomes a regular occurrence, sure, but not for one bout of Massive Cold.

      1. anon*

        I need clarification. Did the bosses really “expect” her to come in when she was that sick? Or did Holly need to come in because she wouldn’t be paid for the sick day?

        1. Holly*

          You aren’t allowed to take the time off, period. Sometimes there’s some leeway, but it’s basically only if there’s a huge family emergency – any time off taken in the three month probation period can hurt your chances of making it past the period and into full employment.

          1. Valar M.*

            Right. I worked at one of these places once with the three months probation and had to take time off because I had to spend time in the ER for a medical emergency. had a note stating as much and that I was not cleared to work or drive. I was called into the office two days later and told that they were pursuing my termination, so I had to quit before I was fired.

            I loathe these policies.

            1. Cristina in England*

              Oh my goodness I cannot believe this. That’s outrageous!!! I hope they were apologetic about it.

              1. Valar M.*

                No, they weren’t. It was very much “this is the policy, you broke it, no exceptions” This company had a lot of red flags but I was desperate for work as I had been unemployed for some time. I found another job far better suited for me a couple months later though, and it was fantastic. So it ended well!

                1. Jean*

                  Nice that it ended well for you! I hope your previous employers eventually experienced a Change (or Thaw) of Heart.

              1. Valar M.*

                If I could go back, I might have fought harder over the whole situation but at the time I was just horrified at the idea of being fired.

                1. Anonymous*

                  If you get fired for something like this, how do you explain in on applications that ask for reason of termination? Or in an interview.

                  I feel like if you cite a medical issue, it draws negative attention to your health. If you cite that you were fired for going to the ER during an emergency, you’re badmouthing your employer (unless the prospective employers are also the type to do that).

                2. Sarahnova*

                  Yeah, I’d really struggle with this – although in this country being actively *fired* as opposed to made redundant generally means you had a serious performance or disciplinary problem, whereas in the States you can clearly get fired for all kinds of reasons which aren’t your fault and shouldn’t be issues to a new employer.

    2. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      Our company does not allow employees to take sick time during the first 90 days – I find it to be weird. The computer physically will not allow it. I had a great new employee need to take a few days off and we ended up having to dig into her vaca time just to make sure she got paid.

      1. Nina*

        Yeah, a lot of companies do that, and it feels like inviting trouble.

        I knew of a coworker who had to take time off during her 90 days because she got an infection from a spider bite or some kind of insect, and had to be hospitalized. The company didn’t like it, but she had no choice. They didn’t fire her, luckily.

      2. Sarahnova*

        I seriously have to wonder if the people who design those systems/make those policies, believe they, personally, are omnipotent.

        It seems the only explanation for how they could genuinely believe that a good employee *will not* need to take time off in the first three months. Like, even if they believe illness (at least other people’s illness) results from not trying hard enough, do they believe people are in control of when family members die or when car accidents occur?

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      I was concerned, because our company has a similar sick policy: you’re not allowed to take any paid sick or vacation time during your 90 day probationary period, and time off without pay is not allowed. So I was concerned what would happen if I did get sick. I think they will make exceptions on a case by case basis, but I didn’t get sick, so I don’t know for sure.

      1. Anonymous*

        They could still give you the day off without pay, though? Or could you not miss work at all?

  8. Niki*

    Can we assume that number one also has an exception for big holidays? When I first started my current job it was December. Unless it is not the office culture or the manager strictly tells you not to take any extra time off I can assume you could take some time off the first month for whatever Winter holiday you celebrate. I wouldn’t suggest taking a whole week but the day after Christmas or something seems reasonable to me. Plus, I feel like most people wouldn’t be in the office either, so even if you were still training you might not have much to do with barely any people in the office.

    1. fposte*

      I would ask what the policy is for leave around the holidays, but I wouldn’t assume I could take it when I was new.

      1. Niki*

        I wouldn’t just take it without asking. I would never take vacation without okaying it with my boss first. I just think there is a huge difference for me to ask to have a random day off and asking to have the day after Christmas off. The first request would probably give my boss a bad impression of me but I don’t think the same impression would be made with the second request. Obviously if my boss said “Look, the holidays is actually are busiest time so we don’t usually take time off around then unless it is an rare exception” then I clearly wouldn’t press the matter. That is the case at my office. I also think a good boss would let you know when it is good and not good to request time off. My boss did which was great because it didn’t keep me guessing and I didn’t have to foolishly feel like an idiot by asking. If your boss always is fine with employees including new ones to take a day after a holiday off they should also tell you. At a different job this happened to me where I didn’t ask if I could have a day off and my boss didn’t say anything until after the fact.

      2. Chinook*

        “I would ask what the policy is for leave around the holidays, but I wouldn’t assume I could take it when I was new.”

        I would go one step farther and and assume that, if coverage needs to be in place, as the new guy I would be the one that stays behind.

        1. Red Librarian*

          I started in December at my current job and we held our holiday party during the work day and I had to miss it that year because I needed to cover the phones for the receptionist. Just how it rolls when you’re the newbie.

          1. Kelly L.*

            That’s sad. :( Some places I’ve worked have gotten around this by having kind of a “rolling” party that people come and go from, and no one person is watching the desk/phones the whole time.

            1. CA Anon*

              We hire a temp when there’s a party that everyone’s supposed to be at. Either that or close the office early.

            2. TK*

              Our “holiday party” is just an 11-2 potluck luncheon in the break room, usually the week before Christmas. People can come whenever’s convenient that way, and folks with set schedules avoid the sort of problem Red Librarian talked about.

        2. Niki*

          That’s true too. I didn’t think of that. Some jobs though just don’t need as much coverage as others if any at all. Just saying I don’t think it would be as big a faux pas to ask around the holidays. I could be wrong but I think if I asked for such my boss wouldn’t think it outlandish.

        3. Lia*

          Yeah, I work in university administration, and despite what people think, we ARE open during class breaks, and someone needs to cover the phones and hold down the fort every day.

          The quickest way to earn resentment here is to assume, as the newest person, that of course you can take off around the end of December, which is a very busy time for us.

        4. AdAgencyChick*

          +1. Unless I negotiated holiday time off before accepting an offer, I would definitely assume that time off at the holidays is spoken for by those with longer tenure at the company.

          1. Laura*

            And then there’s the opposite: for a few years, new hires at our company who started were shocked to discover a mandatory holiday furlough that used 7 days of vacation time. (You start by earning 10 per year, but you don’t get 10 when you start, and you earn nothing the first 90 days.)

            It could be taken unpaid, if you didn’t have enough vacation accrued. If you had five or more days accrued, you couldn’t take it unpaid (which meant you went a couple days negative on your balance if you had exactly five).

            Happy holidays!

            (I am pleased to report this policy has been tossed into the dustbin of history.)

    2. Felicia*

      I assume that #1 also doesn’t include any religious holidays? I just started a new job 2 weeks ago and Rosh Hashana is soon, and I’ve decided to not even ask for it off because I knew I wouldn’t be going to synagogue or doing anything religious. Even though it’s one of THE main holidays where everyone even if they’re not very religious takes off and here, legally my employer would be required to allow me to take teh day off though it could be unpaid. But still I would feel bad about asking even though I know that’s silly.

  9. Ali*

    The no taking time off thing is so sticky. We had a new hire at my job who was getting married last month and needed three weeks off for the wedding/honeymoon. OK fine. I was under the impression that that was all, but he kept asking for time off for his bachelor weekend, other appointments and so forth, which took desirable shifts and days off away from more senior members of our team so he could have them. When my new managers took over for the old boss, it was clear they had to do something to reward seniority so they wouldn’t upset people again. One of the new bosses came right out and told me he knew I’d gotten screwed and he’d be making it up to me for our new schedule roll out in a few weeks. (He had no say in the making of the last schedule where this new guy got the better hand of the hours and days off.)

    It’s hard because everyone was like “It’s his wedding!” and you do want to acknowledge an important event like that. But at the same time, you can’t screw over longer term employees who have been working hard and deserved that time off just as much as he did.

    Likewise, though, when I was promoted to my new role, I had a pre-planned commitment that would require me to leave early from my training in the first week. I simply brought it up with the manager who gave me the promotion and he said it would be fine. Always bring it up before you start and try to minimize the impact you have on other people.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Wow! I think the 3 weeks off even before the extra days is overdoing. Maybe not when you have been there for a while and have earned and saved up 3 weeks of PTO for your wedding, but as a new employee I understand a week off for the wedding but not much more than that.

      The wedding is a day – probably a Saturday and then you do want to day off (maybe two)before. That leaves him asking for 2.5 weeks off for the honeymoon. That’s too much when you just started a new job.

      1. Ali*

        It sounds like he was engaged before he got hired by us and the dates were set. My company’s culture is very flexible (basically, they pretty much never deny a time off request) so they didn’t tell him it was too much. They said it was no problem and then later, it was even at the point where we made a special schedule so everyone else could fill in for him while he ran off for his wedding and honeymoon.

        That was part of the reason this summer at work has been one of the worst in my post-college working life. (We also had to deal with everyone else’s vacations plus some turnover, so this guy’s absence helped nobody in the long run.)

        1. The IT Manager*

          Well, work place norms are work place norms. Not much you can influence that, but still I will say it is ballsy to ask for 3 weeks off.

          Even with a wedding planned before getting a new job, I would adjust my plans to something more reasonable than 3 weeks before asking for the time off.

    2. Kelly O*

      I started my first job out of college literally two days after my wedding.

      We got married on Saturday and I was at the new job on Tuesday. I’d actually been hired a few weeks prior, and we put off my start date until after the wedding, just so I wouldn’t have to take any time off (and wouldn’t have to redo all my paperwork. That was some serious good planning on the part of the hiring manager and recruiter.)

      We have a temp working with us now. She mentioned to my boss that she had a couple of vacations already planned this summer. Both of them are week-long vacations out of town, and while I get that your deposits are already in place, it’s still kind of a bummer to know that I can’t take a Monday off without signing over a major organ, and she’s going to miss two in the course of a few weeks. One was even a payroll Monday, which is basically hallowed around here.

      I think being reasonable is important. Granted, that’s not always what happens, but it’s something I look for in future employers. Reasonable, common-sense, able to explain something without “going through HR/Legal” first.

      1. Simonthegrey*

        To me, though, it’s a little different since she’s a temp. If she had no way of knowing what her schedule would be and had planned those vacations in advance, I can see not trying to cancel or work them around to the new schedule.

    3. illini02*

      I think its unfair to be angry at him, when it sounds like this was all discussed before he started. I get that it impacts you, but thats an issue to bring up with your manager, not this guy who got something approved by his manager only to have his co-workers resenting him behind his back

  10. Allison*

    Taking time off/calling out sick in the first few months hardly ever looks good, and ideally this shouldn’t be done, but when is life ever ideal? I’ve definitely had to do this at a few different jobs – mostly getting sick, dealing with car stuff, or attending family gatherings like a wedding. Luckily, whenever I’ve had to do this, I’ve had amazing managers who understood my need to take time off or work from home, and I both apologized for having to do it and managed to compensate with excellent work.

    1. Ali*

      It’s not so much that life is never ideal as much as it is that you have to minimize the impact on your coworkers and be a team player when you do get back. In my story above, the guy who took three weeks off not only took that plus had other, excessive requests, then he was turning around and saying he wanted both weekend days off on a long-term basis (our job requires weekends b/c of our industry) and was asking for two prime days off for the next schedule rollout. It’s fine that “life happens,” but you need to be able to compensate for it, whether it’s switching hours with someone (if your job requires it/you’re not a straight 9-5), being an otherwise high performer and not taking advantage of it and calling out too much…because that can look worse than a one-off deal. I find it annoying when I’m covering for someone who takes time off frequently as opposed to someone who takes maybe one lengthy vacation a year and doesn’t take a ton of other time on top of that. So really, it depends on how much you’re doing it.

      1. LQ*

        Some of these things are about the work too. For me taking a day or two here or there is no big deal at all. But if I wanted to be gone for 2 weeks it would be a huge amount of work to make that happen. Again depending on the work/industry. Most things can wait until tomorrow, very little I do can wait 2 weeks. Being aware of that and working with it is important too.

        (Also that guy sounds very over needy. Taking both weekend days off is a very big thing when your job requires weekends. Unless someone is volunteering to do weekends it’s expecting a lot that you get both of those days.)

  11. Kathryn T.*

    I had a close friend who came down with actual real-life CDC-confirmed H1N1 swine flu on her second day of work, and had to miss the next eight business days at home sick. Mortified really is the word for how she felt, but there was absolutely no other choice — she wasn’t even well enough to drive and she had a fever pushing 104. Fortunately her new manager understood, but some of her co workers were kind of grumbly.

    1. KellyK*

      I’m amazed that her coworkers were grumbly. People *die* of H1N1. (During the pandemic back in 2008, it seemed, at least anecdotally to me, that a lot of the victims were young healthy folks, not just the very old and the very young for whom regular ordinary flu can be a killer). And they wanted her in there spreading it to them?

      (Admittedly, I work with self-avowed germ-phobes. When someone in our office had it (who probably hadn’t even been in the office when she was contagious), there was an office-wide email and large purchases of bleach wipes and hand sanitizer. But I would expect most people to want someone with a super-high fever to stay home and keep their germs to themselves!)

      1. Windchime*

        My guess is that people were grumbly because they didn’t believe she was really as sick as she was. There is a notion here in the US that it is somehow valiant to come to work when you are sick; that you are so dedicated to your job that nothing — not even H1N1!–can keep you from your appointed rounds.

        I think that a lot of this attitude could be eliminated by laws requiring better sick and vacation time allotments. Compared to other modern countries, our rules (or lack thereof!) are shameful. If everyone had sick leave and it was expected that they would use it when sick, then it would eliminate the problem of people coming to work sick and spreading their illness. Conversely, if we had decent vacation policies, then people wouldn’t be forced to call in “sick” when they really just need a personal day out.

        1. KellyK*

          Yeah, that’s very true. It’s seen as a virtue to come in with a fever, do crappy work, and share your germs with everyone else.

        2. LQ*

          I do think that there is an idea that it is a virtue to work while sick, or to never get sick. I think of all the stories I’ve read of people who have worked x days without taking a sick day. Good for you, you have good genes, shouldn’t the celebration be that you don’t have to deal with getting sick? Illness is not a moral failing but we do sometimes treat it as one.

        3. Allison*

          I’ll never forget working at my first full-time job out of college, and there was a news story about a postal worker who never took a sick day her whole career. Someone sent the article around the department, saying “we should all strive to be like her!” I thought, what, never getting sick? Or sucking it up when you do get sick? Look, I get that a slight hangover or mild tummy ache shouldn’t deter you from getting work done, but we’re all human! Most of us get the flu, or horrid stomach bugs, or strep, or we have kids who get sick and need to take care of them.

          I understand having a good work ethic, and I understand taking care of yourself to avoid getting sick, but striving to never take a sick day is ridiculous.

      2. Kathryn T.*

        Yeah, this was during the 2008 pandemic and a lot of people were all “Oh, come on, it’s no worse than normal seasonal flu, quit slacking and get in here.” I had it the next year and let me tell you — IT IS WORSE THAN SEASONAL FLU. The only other time I’ve ever been so ill was when I had both pneumonia and a new baby.

        Seasonal flu is bad news. H1N1 was even worse.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Well, that depends on the individual and how they react to different strains. I had the H1N1 flu in 2008 and while it did completely knock me out for five days (as in, thought I was going to pass out every time I stood up; had to crawl to the bathroom on all fours), it wasn’t the worst flu I’ve ever had.

          The good news: there’s pretty decent evidence that people who survived H1N1 have “super immunity” to multiple strains of the flu as a result. Score! (Although I still get my flu shot every year, too – I work for a health care provider, with zero direct patient contact, but I’m often in the same building as people undergoing cancer treatment whose immune systems are shot)

      3. Elsajeni*

        Well, it’s so common for people to refer to any unusually-nasty cold as “the flu,” and even more so when flu season is on and the flu is on everybody’s mind — I’m not surprised that some people would hear “No, guys, I actually have swine flu” and think “Pff, whatever, that’s probably what I had last week and I was fine.” Not very nice to be audibly grumbly about it, though, all the same.

        1. Windchime*

          This is very true. People also refer to an upset stomach or food poisoning as “stomach flu” and again, this is nothing like true influenza.

      1. Windchime*

        Probably. Because in previous jobs, news of someone calling in sick was met with a raised eyebrow and a smirk. Because most of us should just get sick on the weekends, I guess.

    2. BritCred*

      Wasn’t quite the first few days of the job (those for this job were made impossible by really bad ice causing road closures and public transport closures for 10 days…. seriously) but I did get fired from a job because I took time off with suspected Swine Flu during the really bad outbreak. Doctors said “Don’t go anywhere till you are better”. The firm. without even asking for me to send it over to them, had a hissy fit that I hadn’t posted my sick note to them within a couple of days. If they’d asked? I would have scanned it over no problem!

      They were a bad company anyway. Meh.

  12. Sandy*

    Ugh. We have an assignment system at the office. It’s complicated, but in short, you start a brand-new job every two years, and everybody moves at the same time- August.

    All fine and dandy, but two of the absolute biggest Jewish holidays are usually in September- Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). I inevitably have to ask a new boss a week or two in if I can have the days off.

    Not only is it uncomfortable, but it inevitably makes me sound more religious than I actually am- going to synagogue/shul on those days (only) is the equivalent of the Church on Christmas and Easter-only crowd for Christians, but since it’s one of the first conversations I wind up having with a new boss, I think (maybe I’m just paranoid about it) it can come across as the problematic religious one wanting accommodations.

    1. KellyK*

      Would it help any to explicitly comment on the significance of the holidays? Like, “I hate asking for time off so soon after starting, but Rosh Hashanah is [date] and Yom Kippur is [date]. Could I have those off? I’m not going to ask for every Jewish holiday off or anything, but those are the two biggies.”

      1. Sandy*

        That’s usually what it comes down to. I’ve had to ask five times now. Never seems to get any easier, presumably because it’s a new boss every time.

  13. JoAnna*

    On my second or third day of work at one of my jobs, I wasn’t able to come in because my husband had accidentally taken both sets of car keys with him to work and we didn’t have any other spares — we had just moved to the area a few weeks previously from out of state and, while it was on our to-do list to have an emergency spare made, we hadn’t done it yet.

    By the time we realized what had happened, he was already at his new job (I left several hours after he did) and it wasn’t possible for him to drive back home to give me my set. I WAS truly mortified and apologized profusely to my new manager and the HR lady, both over the phone and again in person the next day. And I went to the hardware store that evening to make an emergency spare!

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      And this is a situation where I think mortified fits. Because, while an unusual incident, it was still one that you ultimately had control over. Certainly it wasn’t something you expected to happen, like we don’t expect to get sick but having spare keys is within your control.

      1. JoAnna*

        Right, and I was kicking myself the entire day because if it. Thankfully, both my new manager and the HR lady were understanding, but I made sure to be as punctual and reliable as possible for the next several months to make up for the lapse.

  14. BRR*

    This reminds me of the ONLY time I have ever locked myself out of the house, my first week of work while walking the dog in the morning. Luckily it was a duplex with my landlord in the other unit. The 5 minutes between realizing my door was locked and him calling me back though was truly mortifying.

    1. Windchime*

      I was an hour late to work one time because I couldn’t find my keys. In desperation, I dumped out the kids’ huge toy box and there were the keys, down at the bottom. I don’t know what made me look there. Yes, that was really mortifying, especially since I was hourly at the time and my boss was a stickler for people sticking to the schedule.

  15. Koko*

    One that I might add is that in very rare circumstances, you probably shouldn’t come in and start suggesting new ways of doing things when you’re new to the job, because you don’t yet have a full enough view/understanding of why things are being done a certain way. A month or two later, you might still think the system could be improved, and you’ll be better able to make the case because you’ll have hands-on experience with a variety of different scenarios. Or a month or two later, you might have experienced a few unusual but routine scenarios that caused you to realize why the existing system is being used and why your idea for improving it wouldn’t work.

    Even if you’ve been hired as a change agent, it will take a while to understand what you’re working with enough to make smart changes.

    1. LQ*

      I very much agree with this.

      I have a tendency to do this. (Try to offer solutions right away.) In jobs where I’ve tempered it better I’ve written them all down to myself and then asked questions around why (when appropriate, or when the curiosity just overwhelms me). Coming back months later with a solution that fits the work culture and is coached in the correct language goes over much better than. “Seriously? That’s the longest possible way I can think to do that!”

      Not that I’ve ever let that slip out…nope.

  16. GrumpyBoss*

    I would change #1 to “asking for special treatment/exceptions”. People often plan time off in advance, and a job change may come when a vacation has already been scheduled and paid for. I think it’s a responsible thing to do to bring it up during the interview. But if you don’t, bring it up as soon as possible. I’m not saying go out and plan a 10 day cruise after 6 weeks, but if your family goes on vacation every August, I don’t think it hurts to ask if it is OK to keep up the tradition.

    What I hate are the people who have been on the job for a few minutes and are asking for favors. If the job is listed as 8-5, and on your 2nd day you are telling me that you can’t stay past 3 on Fridays because you have to drive to another state to get the kids from your ex for the weekend (this is an actual example that happened to me), I’m going to be pissed off. Bring it up in the interview process so we can work out an arrangement. But asking as a new employee makes you look inconsiderate of your coworkers who may not be getting the same favor.

    1. KellyK*

      Yeah, this is totally reasonable. If the hours and vacation described in the interview are a problem, then the time to bring that up is before you accept the offer.

    2. Ruffingit*

      It really is outrageous to ask to leave at 3 every single Friday after starting a new job. That is absolutely something you should negotiate before accepting. Wow. It’s amazing anyone thought that would be reasonable.

  17. KellyK*

    For #1, you mean time off that *occurs* in those first few months, right? Like, if you get hired in January, don’t ask for time off in February, but it’s okay to ask about summer vacation in February?

    I’m thinking that the best thing to do is to ask a general question, if it hasn’t already been made really apparent to you what your office’s culture is about vacation. “When would you like vacation requests for the summer/holidays?” seems like a pretty reasonable question to ask. Personally, I tend to think that the sooner you ask the better, but I know not everyone wants to receive vacation requests six or eight months out.

    1. Allison*

      That sounds reasonable. Lots of people go on trips during the summer and holiday season; no one, not even new employees should be penalized for wanting to do this, unless they were hired as seasonal help and/or accepted the job under the condition that they wouldn’t be given time off during specific times of the year.

      Although in terms of timing, it’s not unreasonable of them to want to give priority to someone who’s been there longer, so I wouldn’t worry about requesting time off in the summer quite so early.

  18. Jamie*

    I read somewhere recently that the opinions your boss/coworkers form of your work ethic in those first 2-3 months will stick for as long as you have the job. I find experience bears this out – first impressions are sometimes impossible to change.

    Kick 7 kinds of ass early on – until you’ve solidified your reputation – then you just have to maintain. If you start off with people thinking you’re a slacker, incompetent, or whatever you could spend the rest of your time there swimming upstream.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Totally agree with the rule of 2-3 months. People will watch everything a new hire does. Heck, bosses will relate a story that happened three years ago, when you first started as if it happened yesterday. Try not to break anything, lose anything or slam a door into a big wig’s nose.

  19. Ruffingit*

    I would add that you should not walk into the place and make suggestions on changes and/or ways of doing things as though no one in the place has ever thought about it before. There is a reason things are the way they are and it’s not usually because no one has ever thought to change it. Making suggestions as though everyone around you is an idiot who hasn’t possibly thought about the obvious before you showed up is a good way to sour relationships quickly.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Eh, it’s really just the same complaint that I’m repeating in this thread because it applies. :)

  20. Lifelong learner*

    And then there are exceptions.

    My new hire relocated to our area in the middle of a blizzard.
    Her car was towed while she was at her first day at work because she didn’t know what a snow emergency was.
    I was the only person she knew in the city. I met her at work at 7:00 am the next morning and drove her to the impound lot. (yes, she was mortified)

    She had a family vacation planned in a warm climate – I gave the approval- we all wanted out of Minnesota in February.
    Then she got the crud that was going around and was out a week.

    She had a slow recovery and relapsed the week before a huge event in May that we had been planning for 6 months.

    And you know what? I am thrilled with her work. She is efficient, accurate and uses good judgement. When she makes mistakes, she owns them and fixes them. She communicates clearly and asks questions and clarification. When I make mistakes, she is generous and kind. In the six months she has been here she has earned our respect and trust. (and just by coincidence we had the funds to give her a significant raise. )

  21. Going anon for this*

    I have a slightly different take on #8. Still not sure what the better route would have been, but I once started a new job (retail) with a hideous cough. I wasn’t contagious – it had been lingering for a while – but I think it affected how I was seen, especially since I had to run to the break room to avoid sounding like I was dying in front of customers, and I wasn’t able to be 100% focused on the job when a cough threatened to come on. I didn’t call in because I was so afraid to be unavailable during the first couple of weeks, thinking I’d look flaky. Instead, I just made myself look flaky in a different way.

    Of course, nobody suggested I just go home until I wasn’t coughing up a storm, but I think it contributed to their poor view of me.

  22. Meme*

    Hope it is kosher to reply to an old post. Thoughts on feeling guilty for taking vacation time on a new job when job offer was accepted with understanding that certain travel had already been scheduled. Gave specific dates.

    Still, since the company does not provide vacation accrual for 90 days, I feel some kinda way about being out. Mostly, because coworkers don’t know that I negotiated this ahead of time and since my boss and most people that I interact with are located in another state than me. So in my office coworkers may think, dang, she just started and she been out on vacation 3 times already in a 3 month span!

    Would you feel guilty? How do you imagine this is handled in professional manner. Most companies rail about how their vacation policies are set in stone…but really, we all know they are not. But then you can have your entire reputation ruined because of a misundertanding?

  23. Tamika*

    ok I just got a new job I start Monday and I am excited!!!! Then today I got a call from my doctor saying that I will need surgery and my date for my surgery is September 30th and I will need 2 weeks recovery time.. I don’t know what the heck to do because I just started. What I wanna know is if I provide them now with the time and date of this and be forth coming and honest about it what is the likelihood that I am going to get fired!!!

  24. maria*

    my partner started today in a new job and it happens to be a bank holiday…does he get extra pay for working a bank holiday even though its his 1st day?

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