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Veterinarian Technician September 2009 (Vol 30, No 9)

First Days on the New Job

by Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHR

    You got the call that you were waiting for and job of your dreams! After you are finished celebrating, you need to prepare yourself for the new job. It is important to make the best first impression as the newest employee on the team.

    Piles of Paperwork

    With a new job comes a pile of forms to fill out. This paperwork is typically given to you before or on your first day of work. You should either prepare the paperwork at home or bring along the necessary information to make this process smooth for you and your new employer.

    The W-4 form, which determines how much in taxes will be deducted from each paycheck, will need to be completed. Based on your past experience with other employers and the annual tax process, you should know how to fill out this form. Another important paper is the I-9 form, which proves your employment eligibility in the United States. For this form, you will need to prove your employment eligibility with documents such as a current driver's license, social security card, or valid passport. Although these are the most common documents for this form, there are others that are acceptable and it is your choice as to which documents you provide from the approved list. The I-9 form needs to be filled out before you can begin work, and your employer must verify your documents before the end of the third day after your start date. Be aware that if any of your eligibility documents are set to expire soon, you will need to present your new documents to your employer once you have obtained the renewal. Other information, such as your emergency contact person and phone number, may also be required, so have these handy as well. Your preparedness with this information will make the first day much easier for everyone.

    The Introductory Period

    Most practices have an introductory period designated when a new employee joins the team. This period is usually 90 days, but it can vary. This is a time for the employer to see what you're capable of and for you to decide if the job is a good fit. Keep in mind that in most at-will employment states, your position can be terminated without notice for any reason as long as it is legal. This is the time to stay on your toes and put your best foot forward!

    It is important to know if your practice is going to give you a pay raise at the end of the introductory period if you meet or exceed their expectations. If so, you will want to prove that you're worth the starting pay and any raise that may be forthcoming.

    Becoming Part of the Team

    Forming friendships at work is just as important as making that first paycheck, especially when you're trying to fit into an existing team. You don't have to be best buddies with everyone, but you should give all your team members a chance. Let down your guard and allow them get to know you as well. You may only "click" with some team members, but you need to maintain a respectful relationship with everyone in the practice.

    Show What You Know Without Showing Off

    You want to show that you are knowledgeable, particularly in the beginning, but don't be a show-off. Take a more laid-back approach and listen to what is being said. Then, if you have something to offer to the conversation, present what you know in a respectful way without seeming confrontational. Each veterinary practice is going to have a specific way of doing things, and you may need to relearn some of your basic and more advanced tasks to fit the practice's style. Keep an open mind and demonstrate what you know without discounting what you are learning.

    Now that you have successfully completed your introductory period, it is not time to sit back and relax. Being a vital part of the team is a continuous cycle of learning and contributing to the practice. You may even begin to have an idea of the specific position you ultimately want to hold in the practice. It's never too early to begin your preparation for an internal career move—whether it's management or another position.

    Tip: When you have decided to quit a job and make your next career move, present your formal resignation in writing. A professional letter announcing your departure will earn you respect when you are leaving a job. Also, most managers will ask you for this official letter of resignation for your personnel file anyway. Give some thought to your last words. Even if you're leaving because of uncomfortable circumstances, phrase your reasons in a positive way, so you can still maintain the respect of others.

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    These Care Guides are written to help your clients understand common conditions. They are formatted to print and give to your clients for their information.

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