Starting a New Job – 6 Tips for First 90 Days

If you just got a new job, congratulations! This is a tough market, so getting a job is definitely an achievement. Now another type of work begins. The first 90 days on the job is critical to building a strong foundation for success at your new company. You may say, what do you mean? I know how to work. I would say I am sure you do but starting a new job involves more than just hard work.

Starting a new job also needs to include implementing a jump-start plan that helps shape key people's first impression of you. First impression is key because once they have that impression (either positive or negative), it will become your reputation. That reputation is hard to change unless you do something drastic later on. Here are six tips on how build a great reputation in the first 90 days of a starting a new job.

  1. Determine what kind of reputation you want to build: Ask yourself what you should be known for? What qualities are the most critical for success in this job? For example, a Director should try to build a reputation that includes ability to think strategically, get results, facilitate cross functional communication, etc...; an Analyst should try to build a reputation for learning quickly, having always a positive attitude, is detailed oriented, etc...
  2. Know who are the "key people" in this company that should have a good impression of you. Obviously this includes your boss, but there are many more. For a Director of Marketing of a small company for example, it would be the Chief Marketing Officer, all peers that are cross functional leads in sales, technology, product management, website, plus perhaps the other C level executives as well. For an Analyst, it will be your boss + perhaps anyone you have to interact with frequently to get your job done + even your peers, especially ones that already have a good reputation. They may also have your boss' ear (meaning your boss may ask for their opinion of you).
  3. Spot situations in your job that builds your reputation: In the first 90 days of starting a new job, whatever you need to deliver for your job, hit it out of the park even if you have to work extra hours. On top of that, spot opportunities to help before you are asked. For a Director, most likely you would need to come up with an assessment of the current situation and plans on how to improve. Why not propose it to your boss and let him/her know when you can deliver that? You will come across as taking initiative and have a chance to demonstrate how strategic you are. For an Analyst level, proactively update your boss on your progress and set up meetings to get support if needed. You will make his job easier and every manager loves a self-sufficient team member.
  4. Connect with "key people" - schedule "meet and greet" (lunch, coffee break, short meetings) with each person separately so they know who you are. Figure out whether there is a need to do a regular meeting with them depending on their preference and your job. Everyone appreciates a proactive person. Once you did achieve something (e.g. created a plan), you can copy these "key people" to get their feedback. It's a subtle way to involve them and build a good reputation for yourself. Also socialize - go out to lunch and happy hours with co-workers and "key people." If someone likes you personally, it's easier to build a good reputation for your work as well.
  5. Get to know your bosses working style - as important as it is to build a good reputation with all "key people" when starting a new job, your boss is probably still the most important as he/she controls much of your promotion, evaluation, etc.. It pays to figure out quickly his style - what works, what doesn't work, pet peeves. It's even OK to initiate a meeting to discuss this for half an hour and ask him how he likes to work with you. Again you are making it easy for him and that is always a good thing.
  6. Spend time to get up to speed with all the context: This means not only understand your role and what you need to do, but also understand key histories of decisions and any related information or departments that affect your job. Ask lots of questions. A new person gets a lot of leeway to ask questions in the first few months. So go ahead and ask. It's better than assuming any day.

Obviously, I don't mean that you can slack off after the first 90 days of starting a new job, but once you build a good reputation, you just created some room for yourself to protect against any mistakes you may make in the future. I hope these simple but critical tips will help you jump-start your job success. I look forward to your comments. I am always in your corner.