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How to be Successful in Your First 90 Days at a New Job

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the number of new hires in February edged up to 6.7 million, representing 4.4 percent of the workforce showing little change from the month previously. That’s a lot of people entering new jobs.

Let’s face it. Starting a new job can be stressful and intimidating. New staff members want to make a positive impression and start out strongly in terms of both the work they do and establishing relationships with new colleagues.

Not all succeed.

One of the most common missteps made by new employees is not taking a broad enough view of their role—thinking about it more in terms of the job itself, and not their future with the organization. They often don’t recognize opportunities to really make their mark in the new organization and with their new colleagues and customers.

Here we offer some advice for new hires on how to start out strong and position themselves for a successful career with a new employer.

The First 90 Days

The first 90 days in a new job are critical. It used to be that many companies identified the first 90 days as a trial period or temporary status before moving into a “permanent” role. While that type of terminology is no longer used because it suggests that employees do at some point become “permanent,” the philosophy behind it is sound.

What employees do, or don’t do, in those first 90 days can have a lingering effect on how they’re perceived during their entire tenure with a company.

So, what should they focus on in the first 90 days? Let’s break it down month by month:

  • Month one is about listening. During your first month in a new job, you should be soaking up as much information and engaging in as many interactions as possible. It’s about absorbing, listening, and learning. Month one is not the time to make major recommendations for change—you don’t know enough yet to ensure that your recommendations will be sound. Just listen!
  • Month two is about considering where and how you can add value. Based on what you’ve learned during your first month about the company’s priorities, your manager’s expectations, how your work relates to the work of colleagues in your department and others, where can you have the most impact?
  • Month three is about producing results and adding value. Making your mark at this point is critical. You’ve done your background work. You’ve identified how you fit in and how your work helps to drive positive outcomes for the organization. Now it’s about performing.

During these first critical three months, there are also five important steps you should be taking to build your reputation and position yourself as a positive contributor to the organization and a valued collaborator with your colleagues and customers.

The Five “Must Do’s”

  1. Ramp up quickly. New hires should be looking for opportunities to make an impact early during their first months in a new job. Listen, learn, and ask questions to help you determine where you can add value. Note that these same three steps—listen, learn, and ask—can help you throughout your career. The environment changes, company goals and strategies change, staff members and leaders change. You should be committed to continually seeking to understand company priorities and how you can contribute to them.
  2. Build relationships. Regardless of the position you’re in or the type of work you do, you’ll be relying on others to help you be successful. Building relationships not only within your department or with people at the same level as you, but with people up and down the corporate ladder, will serve you well as you work to achieve your goals and objectives.
  3. Make sure you clearly understand your priorities and goals relative to company strategies. Whatever job you may hold, you hold that job to further the objectives of the company you work for. Understanding how your role contributes to company objectives can help you prioritize where and how you spend your time to having the greatest impact.
  4. Creating your roadmap.
  5. Looking at ways to find and add value.

Your Personal Brand

Finally, have a clear understanding and focus on your own personal brand and career goals. Having a philosophy of “I’m just working for someone else” doesn’t position you to grow and advance in your career. Instead, consider what your own personal career objectives are, how you want to be perceived and how you can own your career and make it your own. It’s not about maintaining the status quo; it’s about making a positive impact.

That’s something you should focus on during your first 90 days, of course, but something you should also focus on throughout your entire career. Take ownership. Make a difference.  

It’s your career. You own it. Make sure you’re making the most of those critical first 90 days in a new job.

Photo Credit: Canva

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