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Work Wanted: Navigating the first few weeks of a new job

September 15, 2016
Borderless Leadership

The first few weeks on a new job are the most critical.

You are on probation, which means that the company can decide to let you go at any time if you’re not a good fit. In fact, studies show that one out of five new hires doesn’t make it past the first 90 days. Here are the things you need to accomplish in the first 90 days to get off to a great start in a new company or role.

Your first mission is to bond with your manager. You’ll need to learn his or her management style, preferred mode of communication and priorities for both their work over the next few months and yours. Don’t be afraid to ask great questions and carry a notebook with you everywhere to take notes on what you learn. It will be important for you to over-communicate your progress on projects until you convince your boss that you can be trusted to deliver results with less oversight.

Your next mission is to assimilate into the team culture. Observe the work habits of the people who are superstars; they will give you clues about what defines success. Your future with the company can be made or broken in these first months by how friendly, approachable and professional you appear to be. This group’s first impression of you will impact your career path for years to come.

Third, and certainly not least, you’ll need to master the technical skills to do your job. You’ll receive formal and informal training, of course, but you shouldn’t limit your learning to what you’re given. You can proactively study on your own during quiet moments. Your independent reading should include the company’s website (especially mission, vision and values), social media sites and annual reports from the last few years. Set up a Google search for your company’s name and products so you get any news delivered daily when they get mentioned.

You should also study the bios of senior leaders and learn the history of the company. Ask your boss if it’s appropriate to have one-on-one meetings with key staff and departments you’ll be working with. Learning more about the people who manage other functions will also help you make sense of some of the training you receive. You’ll see what happens after your work leaves your desk and what happens when you make a mistake. You’ll also make points with people for taking an interest in their work.

Some important tasks for the first 90 days fall outside the office. Update your LinkedIn profile and resume to include your new job. Connect with your new co-workers through LinkedIn and send a personal note to introduce yourself. Send thank-you notes to people who helped you make connections with the company and land the job.

Take time to thank other people in your network for their support and advice along the way, and make a plan to stay in touch with them over the next year. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to drop your networking activity after landing a job. You may be helpful to them, and they will certainly be helpful to you when you’re ready to make another career move.

Candace Moody is vice president of communications for CareerSource Northeast Florida. 

Source: Florida Times Union

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