Starting a new job is an exciting time. It’s a greenfield opportunity to avoid mistakes you’ve made in the past, learn new things, embrace new challenges. But it’s also a critical time for you to establish your brand, get to know your coworkers, and figure out what your long-term success looks like.
With that in mind, let’s delve into my top tips for finding success in your first 30 days at your new job!
Establish Clear Goals with Your Supervisor
One of my favorite interview questions as the interviewee is to ask, “What does success look like in 30, 60, and 90 days?”
It’s important to understand not just what your daily duties will be, but how you will be measured on what you’ve done. In the same vein, once you start the job, you need to have this conversation again. Schedule 1:1 time with your manager and ask them point blank: what does success look like for you in 30 days? You are asking them, “30 days from now, what will make me a star in your mind?”
It will vary from company to company and boss to boss. In some companies, management is excited if you get your computer up and running in that timeframe. In other positions, they may want you to be able to recite the top 10 company values.
Whatever it is, you won’t know if you don’t ask. And if you have a new manager, don’t be surprised if they don’t know! You’ll impress them even by asking the question.
Whatever the answer is, take note, and make a plan to have it accomplished in your timeframe. As time goes on, you’ll want to revisit the conversation frequently. You’ll want to know what your goals are for the quarter, for the half, and for the year. But for now, we just want to understand our critical goals for the first 30 days.
Get to Know Your Coworkers
I’m often surprised by onboarding plans that don’t include every team member spending time with the new hire. In offices, this might look like taking the new hire to lunch or to happy hour. On retail floors, it might mean pairing the new hire with someone to shadow. But if your organization’s onboarding doesn’t include having you spend time with your coworkers, you need to take it upon yourself to do it. For those of you who are introverts, this can be difficult! But just as networking is key to advancing your career, developing relationships with your coworkers is necessary to success. They will be valuable sources of information regarding politics, gossip (!) and even things like where the break rooms or bathrooms are or the best places to park your car.
But moreover, these people will be your advocates as you grow in the company. If they know and like you, they’ll be more likely to stand up for you, to recommend you, or to say positive things about you during their own 1:1s. So it’s important to ally with these folks, and the sooner the better.
Above All, Turn Off Your Cell Phone
Don’t be that guy who is brand new and glancing at his phone constantly. It’s tacky. It demonstrates a lack of commitment. It makes you look uninterested. If for some reason you feel like you need to be available by phone–such as if you had to leave your kids with a new babysitter and you’re worried–express that to your supervisor. If you’re expecting a call from a plumber or a mechanic or some other service person–let people know. Otherwise, they’re going to assume you’re chatting it up with your buddies, and that’s a look no one can pull off.
Avoid the temptation to check social media. Don’t text your husband to tell him how great your first day is going. Be present and undistracted. Give your job your full attention.
Set Realistic Expectations
Some people might tell you that your first 30 days is when you show up early and stay late. I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. I don’t think people should set themselves up for burnout, and I don’t think employers should expect their new hires to do more than any other good employee. Instead, I encourage you to set realistic expectations.
You are establishing your first impression and your behavior now sets the tone for what others can expect of you in the future. So, instead of staying late and arriving early, be on time. Be diligent. Ask for help when you need it.
If you have idle time or downtime, ask others for work. That work might be reading the new hire intranet and learning how file sharing works. It might be straightening up the perfume counter. It might be making sure the trash cans are emptied. Whatever it is, give yourself to the work. Work hard. Work honestly. Offer help where you can. Be genuine. At the end of your shift, go home knowing you put in your best effort. And don’t be ashamed to go home on time.