We’ve all been there: It’s your first day on the job — you’ve sold yourself during the hiring process by telling them you’ll do something great, and surely everyone thinks you’re the best thing to happen to their department since the holiday party got a little too wild… But is it all downhill from here? […]
We’ve all been there: It’s your first day on the job — you’ve sold yourself during the hiring process by telling them you’ll do something great, and surely everyone thinks you’re the best thing to happen to their department since the holiday party got a little too wild… But is it all downhill from here? How do you succeed at your new gig right from the start?
1. Write a Job Description and a Plan
The first thing you should do when starting a new job is clarify the scope of your responsibilities and your key daily and weekly tasks. How will your performance be measured? If your employer doesn’t provide this for you (or at least a working draft), write your own and share it, edit and modify until you have a shared understanding of your roles and responsibilities. (See this great article by on a similar topic .)
2. Set Key Goals and Milestones
Ask your supervisor what they’ve wanted to do but don’t have the time to or what their goals are for the department/team. You should always have a clear grasp of what’s important to the leadership above you. Set goals for your first week, your first month, and your first 6 months, and develop a system that works for you to manage your progress toward reaching them ( is great because it plays nicely with Google calendar, but ).
Also think about your ultimate goals for your time in the position. Is this a company you want to grow with and eventually take a leadership role, or is this a job merely a stepping stone where you can master a certain set of skills? Thinking about the end goals when you first start out will make it easier to identify the steps to get there.
3. Think Big, Think New
Once you become ingrained in the bureaucracy and group think of an organization, the less likely you’ll be able to think outside the box. The best ideas often come from new people — they don’t have a grasp on any sensitive political issues, like “I can’t offer that suggestion because that’s in Anna’s portfolio and Anna would be upset.” You’re coming in fresh, they want you because you’re fresh, so be that way. (.)
Rozny adds a great note of caution on implementing your big ideas: “Identify areas where you would like to help, and then learn them well. I’ve watched new employees who want to make a “splash” try to implement change before they really know a system, and it tends to end in failure.”
4. Fake It Till You Make It
Who are we kidding? When you leave a job you have been at for two or more years, you really “own” your space. Day/Week/Month One at your new job, you’re going to feel like a fish out of water. You want to feel confident on the phone in front of your colleagues, but you don’t. You want to say something in the staff meeting, but you edit the two sentences 27 times in your head and by the time you’re ready (and now nervous), the time has passed. Confidence exudes confidence, so in order to start succeeding and owning space in your new role, find confidence from everything and every success that got you to where you are now. Give yourself one or two weeks to get your bearings, but then start going. Because just like the gym, the more you walk on the treadmill, the harder it is to run.
5. Do Your Research
If your new job is a significant change for you, try to branch out and develop new sources of information to improve and expand your skill sets. Are there new trade magazines you should subscribe to, or industry blogs and twitter feeds you should start to follow? Scout out interesting opportunities to learn more about the new elements of your job.
6. Engage with New Colleagues One-on-One
Take the time to get to know your new colleagues before your day-to-day calendar gets overwhelmed by minutiae. Schedule coffee breaks, lunches, (or perhaps happy hours) in one-on-one settings so you can get to know the new members of your team. This proactive approach shows that you are ready to be engaged right from the start and you’ll learn valuable information right out of the gate. Ask all of your immediate new colleagues for their advice and wisdom, and reflect on what they have to say as you plan your goals and milestones for your first few weeks and months on the job. Brazen member and University of Missouri student agrees: “I think that asking about something as simple as a hobby or family or alma mater can help foster a good workplace relationship.”
7. Document (and Share) Progress
Nothing will get you off on a better foot than summarizing your key accomplishments at the end of each week, and sending a quick email progress report to your supervisor or key team members. Alternatively, one thing we do at Brazen Careerist is summarize what we learned and what we’re testing each week, and we share that with our whole staff. It keeps us all accountable to each other, and we’re all aware of what’s on our team member’s plates. Who you share progress with depends on the size and nature of your team or office, but its a great way to keep your boss (or your whole team) in the loop on your activities.
Do you have any pearls of wisdom to share with our members starting off on a new adventure? We’d love to hear what works for you (or what doesn’t), and specific advice for your profession! .