Congratulations, you’ve landed a new job. You may think the hard work is behind you now that you’ve landed your exciting new role but don’t rest on your laurels. You need to prepare yourself for the success. The first three months on the job can set the tone for long term success.
Here are some suggestions to make the most of those critical first three months:
- Positive First Impression – While you obviously made a positive impression in the interview, you need to set the right tone as you start your new job. If possible ask what material you can review prior to day one. It eases your transition but also shows your interest. Arrive on time and professionally dressed. Be prepared to take notes. Show your delight in being there and your willingness to learn. Greet everyone with a smile and a firm handshake.
- Build Relationships – While the work you do each day may bring you satisfaction and challenge, you don’t work in a vacuum. From day one, pay attention to the relationships since they will be critical to your long term success. It will be much easier later to get the information you need if you build strong working relationships throughout your functional area and across the organization. Show interest in what other people do. Ask how long they have worked for the organization. Show appreciation when they share information and insights. You do not have to be best friends with those you work with each day but it can significant enhance your work experience and your future career plans to build strong relationships.
- Clarify and Confirm Expectations – You sold yourself throughout the interview process. Be careful as you start the job that you don’t set yourself up for failure by over-promising. It is normal to be eager to deliver results and prove your value but over-promising leaves everyone disappointed and frustrated. Assume that it will take longer than you think to accomplish your early tasks since you don’t know how things get done or who to contact for information. You do not have all your relationships established so you’ll be building them as you go with your first projects. Be sure that you and your manager both share the same expectations.
- Observe – You can gain significant insights in to the culture of an organization by observing others. Notice how people dress and always dress for the next position you aspire to. Notice if people take lunch as a group or eat at their desk. Pay attention to communication styles. If your boss prefers email use that but if they prefer a face to face conversation that ‘s what you need to do. Don’t be the last to arrive in the morning or the first to leave in the evening. Be a keen observer in your early weeks on the job to support your assimilation into the organization.
- Listen – Particularly in the early weeks on the job, it is critical to listen more than talk. Learn from the colleagues who have been there about what works, what doesn’t and why they do things the way they do. Don’t be quick to judge. There may be changes needed over time but don’t cause people to shut down early in your tenure because they feel threatened. Show a willingness to learn the organization and build relationships to ensure your future success.
- Admit Mistakes – It is likely you will make a mistake or two in those early months as you settle in. Be quick to claim responsibility. Own your mistakes and learn from them. Demonstrate from the outset that you won’t fall into the trap of the blame game. If you or your team make an error, admit it and learn from it. This will go far in building your credibility.
- Seek Feedback – During those first few months on the job, seek regular feedback from your manager and your peers. Learn what is going well and what needs further fine tuning. The sooner you understand the culture and expectations, the more quickly you can reach full productivity. Show that you are listening to the feedback by implementing changes.
The reality is that once you have the job, you do continue to sell yourself just in a different way than you did during the interview process. You earn credibility and respect by learning the organization, building relationships and listening to others. If you make these critical investments early on, you significantly increase your likelihood of success in the long term.