There is no shortage of resume and interview tips to help you land a new job, but advice on navigating those early months in a new role and how to work towards new job success can be a bit more elusive.
After the exciting first few days of onboarding—meeting the team, getting the layout of the office, and learning how to make the coffee—the real work begins. So, how can you make the most of this new opportunity, and make a strong impression on your new peers?
1. Define success
In some cases, your boss will have already developed a set of goals they want you to accomplish during your first three to six months on the job. You’ll want to be sure you understand their expectations, and if there’s a specific set of metrics you’ll be evaluated against. Is your performance tied to some larger departmental or company-wide goals?
You may be working to boost conversion rates, grow sales leads, or help streamline a process. Getting a sense of the big picture, and figuring out what your manager needs in order to be successful, will help you prioritize your tasks and deliver a strong job performance.
If your goals in the new role are not ready-made, don’t rely on the job description’s bullet points to find out what’s expected of you. Schedule a meeting with your manager to clarify your mutual expectations. Ask your manager what their top challenges are and how you can help. Consider the unique skills and perspective you have to offer and how you can apply them towards a current project or goal. Talk about how you’ll work with your new colleagues and what resources you’ll need to be successful.
2. Establish Social Ties
Making healthy social connections at work can keep us more engaged and productive, and they shouldn’t be limited to those in your immediate orbit. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself when you have an opportunity. A brief “Hi, I’m so-and-so, I don’t think we’ve met,” is all it takes. If you’re nervous putting yourself out there, start by asking others about their roles, or for their advice and perspectives, and if there are any meetings you can sit in on. This takes the heat off of you to come up with a conversation that gains traction, because people are usually willing to share their insights and talk about themselves.
3. Say “Yes”
Helen Keller said, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.” As a new hire, naturally you need to listen and learn, but don’t hang back too much. You also want to project confidence in your abilities and your willingness to tackle challenges—even if that may seem daunting at first. When you have the chance, say “yes” to a project or opportunity. Raising your hand shows a sense of teamwork and commitment; “I’ll do it” not only inspires confidence, but it also suggests you’re all in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek guidance as needed, but don’t let your new-ness on the new job hold you back.
4. Speak Up
In your first week, after you’ve made your introductions and found out what meetings to attend, don’t just sit there. If you’re an expert on a particular topic, discuss your own experiences and insights. Just keep in mind that while a company or team often brings in someone new for a “fresh perspective,” you want to communicate with respect and curiosity. Ask questions before you start prescribing fixes.
Show an interest in how your company or department developed its current approach to a problem or project, and be thoughtful in presenting your new ideas. If and when you identify problems in the organization, don’t blurt them out—but don’t ignore them, either. Most leaders want employees who point out issues rather than coast past them. Plan to bring a suggestion to the table, before you launch into a critique of the problem. You might start with a delicate, “I’ve noticed an opportunity to fix this process; here are some ideas.”
5. Ask for Feedback
Effective communication and feedback on job performance are critical to business success. It’s how we share objectives and targets, and gain insights into how processes and services can be improved. And with the ever-quickening pace of change in the workplace, and the need for teams to adapt and evolve to reach their goals, some organizations are doing away with six-month and annual reviews and replacing them with more frequent conversations to let employees know how they’re doing.
If after a couple of months in your new role your manager hasn’t yet offered feedback on what you’re doing right, what can be improved, and how you can maximize your time to better benefit your team, it’s time to check in with them. If your company’s policy is to conduct infrequent reviews, ask your boss if it’s possible to get some feedback early on—three months is a good timeframe. This way you can confirm what’s working well, and adjust in any areas as needed, rather than waiting a whole year to find out how your manager feels.
Starting a new job is exciting— it’s a time that provides lots of opportunities to showcase your talents and help your company approach problems in a different way. Put your best foot forward towards new job success. Remember they are lucky to have you!
Amanda Rebuck is a writer and content specialist who has worked in various industries, including information technology, e-commerce, and finance, as well as staffing and recruiting.