The moment that you learn that the job you’ve been wanting is actually yours- it’s a great feeling. Whether it’s a step up the career ladder, a move into a prestigious company, or even the chance to get working again after a period out of the workplace, starting a new job is exciting. Most likely you’ll be congratulated by friends and family, who’ll be telling you it’s what you deserve.
However, once the euphoria subsides, there are many questions you’ll be asking yourself:
- How am I going to make the best of this opportunity?
- How am I going to make an impression?
- What is this new role going to bring me (in addition to an income, of course)?
- What kind of career growth am I looking for?
- How can I use my current knowledge and skills to the best advantage?
- What knowledge and skills do I want to develop?
It doesn’t matter what kind of job you’re going to do, whether you’ve just secured your first role or are a seasoned performer with a track record of success, many of the questions are the same.
Before starting in a new job, it is worth taking some time to consider what you’ll need to do to get off to a flying start and develop your reputation as an outstanding professional.
In this detailed guide, we’ll go through some suggestions to help you integrate smoothly into an organization where you are starting a new job and ensure that you make the most of the opportunity a new job presents. We’ll take your arrival and integration in stages, to cover the first 3 months in your new role.
Stage One: Prepare your entrance
After the first message informing you that you’re being offered a position, you’ll probably receive a formal offer letter and contract to sign and return. This will probably contain some details about the date of starting a new job, your salary and benefits, your entitlement to leave, etc.
Provided you agree with all the terms, return this as promptly as possible, so your new employer is sure that you have accepted, and will not look for a ‘Plan B’ Candidate. Ensure you add a note expressing appreciation for the opportunity and confirming that you are looking forward to joining your new team.
However, sometimes the offer letter does not contain basic information which is important for you to be aware of, for example:
- Location of your workplace (if this is different from the place you were interviewed)
- The time you should arrive for work on the first day. This is important because you will be meeting your manager, a colleague or an HR person, and they should be ready to see you.
- Any documentation you need to bring. Typically, there is a lot of admin work to get through on your first day while starting a new job. Providing all the documents needed, such as passport, driving license, etc. will ensure all procedures can be completed smoothly, and avoid anyone having to chase you for missing items.
- Job description. If a full job description hasn’t already been provided, ensure you request it before your first day.
- Dress code. If this wasn’t discussed at the interview, check what is expected in terms of how you present yourself. When in doubt, dressing a little more professionally is a safer bet than looking more casual than everyone else.
- Meal facilities. Does the location have a cafeteria, a kitchen, or an area where employees can eat their own packed food? Or does everyone have lunch outside the workplace. It’s worth finding out.
Either request these details by email or call your contact in the company for advice.
Whatever time you are required to report on your first day, it’s important to be there on or before time. Good time management is a basic professional courtesy always and especially when starting a new job. Excuses about ‘traffic’ or the bus being late won’t impress anyone or get you off on the right start.
Timing is everything
You may think you know how long it takes to reach the location as you’ve already attended an interview. However, if your interview was mid-morning, the chances are that the traffic was lighter at that time.
It may be a good idea to do a ‘trial run’, which reflects your actual start time, before your first day, to assess how much time you’ll need to ensure you arrive punctually.
Stage Two: Your first day
The big day finally arrives so you’re starting a new job. You’ve reached your new workplace on time and, hopefully, you’ve been met and greeted promptly by your manager, a colleague or a member of the HR team. However, although you’re eager to get started, the first day can sometimes seem like an anti-climax.
Expect to spend quite a bit of time filling in paperwork, and being issued with equipment.
- If you’re working in an office environment, hopefully your workstation, equipment and passwords will have already been set up for you. It will be helpful to know how to contact the IT support team in case you need advice.
- Ensure you are able to access your email immediately, and know your desk extension number, and your work mobile number (if you are provided with one).
- Connect with the colleague who seems nice to you in the early days but maintain a professional distance. Ask for a tour around the building, so you can locate key facilities or departments easily. It may seem obvious, but something as simple as knowing where the restrooms are located, without having to ask, can make you feel more at home and less of a ‘newbie’.
- It’s likely that you’ll be introduced to colleagues, with their names and job titles. Unless you’re exceptionally good at remembering names, faces and job titles, then chances are you won’t retain most of the details. However, it’s still a useful exercise, as they’ll remember you.
- For the one who’s starting a new job, an organization chart is an important tool, even on your first day. Start to get familiar with the way the business is set up and how you will communicate with key contacts in other teams. In addition, find out how to access the company directory so it’s easy to reach out to whoever you need to.
You’re also likely to have an initial meeting with your manager. Don’t be in a hurry to discuss your goals and objectives. First of all, focus on listening so that you can start getting to know him or her.
They also want to know about you, and to help you settle down as quickly as possible so you can integrate into the team and contribute to their work.
When you’re all fired up and ready to go, it can be frustrating to find that you have ‘down time’ on your first day. Be understanding: the people who are looking after you may have other meetings or tasks to attend to, so you are left to …wait around.
Ideally, this won’t happen, but if it does, to make the best impression. Don’t sit idly checking your social media.
Spend the time reviewing company literature, looking at the website, and thinking through any questions which may need to be answered so that you can get to work as quickly as possible.
Stage 3: When Starting a New Job, Show You Mean Business
Although, when starting a new job you may be impatient to get down to business, keep in mind that even with your knowledge and skills, there’s still a lot to learn about the company culture. Make the most of the first few days to lay the foundation of your future success.
This is a week where you’ll mainly be looking for input and suggestions. This time will create a strong foundation for your future success.
Get to know your colleagues
Ideally, a schedule of meetings with colleagues and contacts will have been set up before in preparation for your arrival. To make a great impression, approach these meetings professionally and with the approach that you want to learn.
They’re a fantastic way of starting to build a network of contacts- people will typically be ready to support a new colleague and help you as needed.
An initial training and development plan
Although you may have most of the knowledge and skills to perform when starting a new job, there are still likely to be gaps. Therefore, it’s likely that you will have an initial training or development plan to ensure that you can perform in your new role:
- If no initial training plan has been prepared for you, take the initiative, and carry out an LNA (Learning Needs Analysis) on yourself.
- Start with your job description. Are you lacking in the knowledge needed for any of the tasks required? Is it unclear how you’ll fulfill any of the requirements listed? Look for new opportunities and innovative approaches to learning
- Once you’ve identified some gaps -how will you go about filling them? What support will you need?
- Having done this initial work, you’re ready to discuss any knowledge and skills gaps with the person responsible for your professional development, so that you can co-create a plan.
- Many companies provide training company-wide programs, for example, related to safety, fire training, security, diversity, etc. If these are available online, aim to complete them promptly.
Understand your objectives
You’re determined to succeed, so it’s essential to know what that success will look like in the eyes of your company, as well as how it will be measured.
Within the first week, ensure you have a meeting with your manager, and find out what your goals are, in your first three months, and up to the end of the year.
Be proactive: if your manager doesn’t set up a meeting, take the initiative or request one yourself. If you have the option to send a calendar invite, use it. If you’re physically distanced, propose a zoom meeting.
Your goals should not be isolated targets, they need to be integrated and contributing to the success of your company, so, regardless of your seniority, be prepared to ask:
- What are the organization’s key strategic goals this year? Where does my work fit into the big picture?
- What are this department/team’s goals? How can I best contribute?
Be proactive: if it’s possible to find out details of a company’s annual goals before you meet your manager (and it usually is), this gives you a head start with the discussion.
Make sure any goals you set to cover the initial period are SMART:
Also ensure that you set some goals to fill your learning gaps so that these aren’t forgotten. That’s not all that you have to consider while starting a new job but there is much more so keep on reading further.
Stage 4: Succeed by Adding Value
In many companies, there’s a probationary period of three months. So, this is a critical time for you to demonstrate your value to the organization.
It is also a time when you can ask for input and suggestions to support the professional development that you need to be successful.
Great performance in your probationary period can establish your reputation as a high-potential employee, and a candidate for future career growth. Commit fully to showing how you can perform in your new role and how much value you can add to the team and the organization.
There are three main areas you should focus on during this time:
1. Achieving short-term goals you co-created with your manager
Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by other projects or duties, although these may be part of your daily work. At the end of each week, ask yourself:
‘What action have I taken this week to move me closer to achieving my goals?’
Don’t only focus only on the ‘quick wins’, although this is tempting. Each week, aim to have worked on all of them.
If you find that you’re blocked, or can’t move forward with one, ensure that your manager knows that you need support. Never just ignore it and hope it will be forgotten- because it won’t be!
And remember- the challenging goals are the ones where you’ll learn the most. They’re the most valuable in terms of your professional development.
2. Improve working relationships
During the initial three months, you’ll get to know who’s who in the organization, and they’ll get to know you. These days, very few organizations work in departmental silos, where one department will follow its own course, having as little contact as possible with other departments.
It’s far more likely that, to speed up development and decision-making, employees work in cross-functional teams, where the success of each team is dependent on the cooperation and support of others.
That is why any effort you can make to help improve working relationships, is of value. Aim to get to know as many colleagues as possible, inside your own team and beyond.
Without losing focus on achieving your goals, offer help and support to others when you can. Offer a fresh perspective. Show yourself to be a great team-player.
When others need support, offer input and suggestions in a constructive and humble manner. This will earn you respect as a professional.
When starting a new job, feedback from your colleagues is extremely valuable in helping you to learn.
When you encounter a roadblock or are just stuck, never be afraid to look for input and suggestions from those around you – typically they’ll value your openness and willingness to learn.
3. Manage your boss
When starting a new job, it’s important to learn how to manage upwards, that is, to know how to communicate effectively with your boss. In the early days, it’s almost impossible to over-communicate.
- Let him or her know what’s going on with you so that they can support.
- Keep them updated about progress, so they don’t have to keep asking.
- Find out what data is important for them, and provide it without being asked.
It is important to schedule a one-to-one progress meeting, ideally weekly, or at least twice a month, during this period. This is an opportunity for a private and open conversation.
You should ask for feedback on how you’re doing, to update your boss about progress towards your goals, and to make any adjustments needed. If they have any feedback from colleagues to share, this can also be helpful.
What not to do in a new role
We’ve covered a lot of ideas which can help you to succeed in your new role, but there are certain behaviors which can, unwittingly, make a poor impression, have a negative impact on your reputation, and will certainly not help to improve working relationships.
To help you succeed in your new role, here are four ‘reputation killers’ that you should guard against.
Talking endlessly about your previous company
This is a trap that many joiners fall into. The intention is to be helpful, by providing a fresh perspective. But when a new colleague can’t help making unflattering comparisons between the way things are done here with the way things were done there, it can be irritating.
People start to feel that their efforts and achievements are being belittled. This kind of conversation is likely to end with: ‘Well why did you leave then, if everything t was so much better there?’
Talking endlessly about your previous achievements
A related trap is to boast endlessly about your fantastic achievements in a previous role. While you are trying to establish your credibility, no-one is really interested. What they’re interested in is how much you are going to contribute in the here-and-now. Your challenge is to learn your new company’s culture and integrate into the team.
Better to show yourself a good listener, be humble, and let your actions speak louder than your words. Demonstrate your value through the quality of your work.
In a new company and a new role, it’s understandable to want to be part of the team. One way, which should be avoided at all costs, is to become involved in the minefield of office politics or gossip.
Though it seems a good idea to mingle up with new colleagues while getting involved in gossip, it may harm your professional reputation in the future.
In addition, the intricate web of social networks inside any organization is constantly changing: someone who is the target of negative gossip one week can become a hero by the next.
The last thing you need, if you want to succeed in a new role, is to get involved in judging others, or become part of a tightly-knit clique.
If someone tries to involve you in gossip, politely remove yourself from the conversation without making any comment and stay positive.
If you can’t escape, make it clear you’re not interested in gossiping with a neutral statement such as: ‘I don’t know X well enough to have an opinion’ or ‘I’m not involved in that situation, so I don’t know enough to comment’.
Instead, aim to build and improve working relationships with all your colleagues and contacts.
The last, and perhaps the most important, reputation killer, especially when you’re in a new role is making excuses and blaming others.
Simply don’t blame anyone else or make no excuses rather accept it courageously and show your commitment to be more careful in the future.
Whether you succeed or fail, let it be as a result of your decisions and your actions. Take responsibility and you’ll learn from your mistakes. Treat them as part of your professional development.
You’ll earn more respect as a professional, which in the long-term will result in more satisfying career growth.
In short, when starting a new job, there are three key factors to focus on:
- Integrate into your new company’s culture and way of doing things,
- Improve working relationships with others
- Add value by achieving your objectives.