Congratulations! You've landed a great new job and you're excited to get started. You worked relentlessly to get the job offer -- networking, applying, researching and interviewing -- but if you're thinking the hard part is over, think again.
Chances are, you want to impress your new employer and demonstrate what a smart move they made by hiring you. You may already be daydreaming about getting your first promotion or raise. But nearly all new employees go into their new job without a plan for how they're going to make a great impression, which can be a serious mistake.
Most professionals aren't aware that their image will be solidified with their new boss and coworkers after about four months, and it is difficult to shift perceptions after that time period. If you create a strong reputation early on, that impact is likely to continue while you're in the job (assuming you don't do something drastic to change people's view of you). On the other hand, if you don't impress your colleagues during that critical period, it will be harder to convince them of your merits later.
Therefore, there is a psychology to starting a new job that many people do not understand. To get yourself on the path to new job success from day one, pay close attention to these tips during your first weeks and months in your new role:
- Ask yourself which skills and characteristics will be most critical for success in the new role (they may be different from what was important in your last job).
- Admit to yourself what you don't know (about the job, the company, the clients, the systems, or anything else).
- Put together a learning plan to address your gaps in knowledge. What do you need to learn? How will you learn it? By when?
- Identify the people in the organization who can help you. How will you develop strong professional relationships with them?
- Focus on adding immediate value to the team.
- Clarify expectations and objectives for your role.
- Take immediate and visible steps toward meeting your objectives. Find "quick wins."
- Find out why things are done the way they are before suggesting changes.
- Schedule a 90-day review with your manager.
- Prioritize and plan your projects and tasks.
- Consider how this job fits into your longer-term career plans.
- Proactively manage your personal brand at work.
- Pay attention to people's differing communication styles, and adapt accordingly.
- Exude a positive, problem-solving attitude.
- Take responsibility for your actions, decisions, and success.
- Assume that just showing up is enough.
- Get distracted from your objectives.
- Be critical of your predecessor or the way things have been done in the past.
- Wait for someone else to tell you what needs to be done.
- Abdicate responsibility for your career development or career management.
- Assume everything is going fine. Ask!
- Forget to document your successes and achievements.
If you follow these tips, you will be on your way to understanding the art and science of integrating into a new job. Remaining aware and vigilant of the impact of your actions during the critical impression window will put you ahead of most of the new hires in any organization. Concentrate on making a strong, positive impression in your first four to six months, and you will reap the benefits for many months and years while you are employed at the organization.