Congratulations, you did it.
You landed a great job, you probably have a range of mixed emotions. Relief at ending your job search. Anxiety because of the unknown future. Excitement at starting a new chapter in your career. Anticipation of new challenges. How you start your new job can set the tone for the rest of your time at that company.
Some people refer to the first weeks of a new job to a Honeymoon period. Use this time wisely. Pay attention in the “on-boarding” sessions, take notes and ask questions. You’re not expected to know everything about your new company, it is better to ask questions than to set yourself up for failure because of a lack of knowledge.
The on-boarding process varies greatly from one company to the next. Some companies do all the pre-hire paperwork the first day then turn you loose to be on your own. Others might have you spend the first several days, even the first week meeting people and “interning” in different departments to give you a complete picture of how the company works. The following the 6 steps will ensure you get off on the right foot and are successful.
1. Before you start
Make sure you have all the first day logistics covered. Where do you park, what identification do you need to bring, what time, where, to whom do you report, dress code, do people eat lunch in or go out. These are only a few of the things you should ask to be sure you start on the right foot. Ask for material so you can learn as much about the company as possible before you report, such as, annual reports, recent town hall memos, company newsletters, etc.
Arrive a bit early and show your excitement for starting the new job.
2. Introduce yourself
Take the initiative to meet people. Say hello in the elevator, kitchen, or bathroom. It will pay off in the end. Start with the group closest to you, the people you’re directly working with. This is the time to begin forming relationships, do your best to be friendly and warm, asking for advice is always a good way to break the ice.
3. Ask a lot of questions
Ask your new manager for a meeting the first week you start, so you can begin getting answers to these types of questions:
- What are the most important parts of the job I should master during my first few weeks here?
- Who are the key people I should meet, and what should I learn from them?
- What processes and procedures are most critical to this group, and what is the best way for me to learn them?
- What is the best way for me to communicate with you and keep you updated on my progress?
You probably have many other questions too. Make sure the questions you ask show you’re committed to doing your job well and helping your new employer.
4. Arrive early and leave late
During your first few weeks on the job, everyone (not just your boss) is observing how you behave. Learn what the normal work day patterns look like by watching what time your co-workers arrive and leave.
You don’t have to be the first person in the office, but you should arrive earlier than most. And don’t just hang out in your cube. Use this time to have a brief chat with a colleague in the break room or offer help to someone who looks stressed.
Before you leave the office, check in with your manager or team to see if there is anything you can do to help before leaving.
5. Start demonstrating what you sold the company on
Now it’s time to deliver. Whatever it was at interview that you said you could do, and would do, now is the time to start proving you were the right hire. Don’t sit back and think as the newest person on the team you have a bit of time to “settle in”; you need to be on your game and be delivering from day one, so set up those meetings, find out your immediate deliverables and get to work. Don’t just go off doing what you ‘think’ they need, find out exactly what they want and deliver it to them.
6. Get to know your colleagues
In addition to your manager, you also want to gel with your team. If you can have lunch with your new colleagues, that’s a great way to get to know people in a relaxed environment. At the very least, spend a few minutes each day getting to know everyone. Your peers will help get you assimilated. They can give you some institutional history. They may offer insight into your manager or others in senior management. Just make sure you don’t devolve into gossip – stay positive about the company and your manager at all times.
Your first 30-90 days on the job should focus exclusively on getting up to speed on the work, workplace and your colleagues. Once you feel more comfortable, don’t forget to tend to your external network. Update your LinkedIn profile for your new role. Reach out to contacts who you relied on for your job search to let them know about your new position. Join a professional association relating to your new role. Your career management is about succeeding in your current company but also your industry at large.
Rick Christensen: Director, Career Transition Practice