How to Nail Your New Job in the First 90 Days



You just landed a sweet new gig at an awesome company. Great! But if this is where you want to grow for the next few years, then now is when the real hard work begins. The first three months on the job are the most crucial, as your new managers and co-workers form their opinions about you – and for better or worse, they usually stick. You've only got one shot to make the right first impression, so here's everything you need to know to ace those first 90 days.


Prioritize Building Key Relationships

When someone fails to make the impression they had hoped for at a new job, it's almost always for the same reason. Hard workers often become too engrossed with nailing the day-to-day, technical aspects of the job and not enough on building actual relationships with their colleagues.


There are so many reasons that building professional relationships are important (like your boss trusting you to actually perform the job they're paying you for). So identify who it is that you will be working most closely with, and then set out to build those key relationships early. Don't hesitate to invite colleagues to a casual "get to know you" coffee, lunch or happy hour. And don't focus on befriending only managers – forging bonds with your peers is also important for your professional success (and sanity, as well).

Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. You'll be amazed at how a few casual conversations with the right people will jump-start your success in your new role.


Adapt to Company Culture


Navigating the landmines of a brand new company culture (and complex political hierarchy) is probably the single hardest learning curve to pin down when starting fresh with a new job. It can be difficult to finesse the balance between soaking in as much information as possible and feeling the need to speak out and prove your worth.


First, it is crucial to identify the company's voice and then learn to speak it. Do they prefer in-person conversations or Slack and email? What language do they use when they respond to client communications? It's paramount you identify the company tone before you speak out, because no one likes the newcomer who boasts, "Well, at my old company …" – especially if that company is a competitor. It's better to be like a chameleon blending into your new environment, rather than a peacock in the early going. That way, when it's finally your turn to speak up, you can deliver valuable insight in a way that doesn't seem threatening.


Think Like a Business and Set Measurable Goals

It seems obvious that you should set a few measurable goals when you start a new gig, but have you thought about assessing your growth in your new position the way a business would?


Companies often evaluate how well they're performing based on how much progress they make each quarter. Set your goals like a business by identifying areas you can deliver meaningful results at the 30-, 60- and 90-day marks.


When you start a new role, it's important to make a list of your responsibilities in order of importance. This is because people have a tendency (especially when trying something new) to gravitate toward those things they perform well, while shying away from those they don't do so well. But if you set your goals in terms of importance – rather than personal preference – you will deliver more results while becoming a more well-rounded worker.


Another great goal to set is to look for opportunities where you can get an early win. This could be as simple as reorganizing some spreadsheets or as ambitious as taking on an additional project to help your team. It will show your new colleagues you're on top of your stuff while also demonstrating your enthusiasm and commitment to the work and company.


How to Recover From a Rocky Start

No matter how much effort you put in, we're all human – and thus are prone to making mistakes. But the stakes are even higher during the first couple months on the job, where the learning curve is usually steep and just a few mistakes can flip your reputation from "smart hire" to "incompetent newcomer" seemingly overnight.


The most important thing you can do when you make a mistake is to sincerely own up to it, and then demonstrate you're making improvements to change the behavior. Absolutely no one is perfect, and people will respect honesty and a commitment to getting it right.


It's tougher to shake the perception of laziness if you aren't doing enough. The best way to flip the script if you haven't been meeting the challenge of a new position is to start defaulting to yes. It's going to be tough work, but if you truly want to eliminate the lazy tag after a lackluster start, you're going to have to put in the tough work and help those who ask. After a while, when people ask for help and you say, "Not this time," they'll believe that it's because you're truly busy rather than just lazy.


A job transition is always tough, especially when it comes to navigating all the pitfalls of a new position. But this early time is crucial to making sure you get the next leg of your career off on the right foot. With a little tact and a lot of hard work, you can do just that and have your new colleagues stopping by your desk to ask your input for a critical project or to make plans to get together over the weekend.