The First 90 Days in a New Job – Why They Are So Important and How to Mess Them Up

Job searching can be an undeniably stressful experience but if, having secured that new position, you feel inclined to just rest on your laurels and ease your way into the role slowly, then think again.  The first 90 days in any new job are some of the most vital in terms of determining how far you go from here.

We’ve all heard the old adage about never having a second chance to make a good first impression, and when it comes to starting a new job, this is certainly one that holds true.  Even before you have made it through your first day in your new role, your employer has already made what could be a considerable investment in you (remember, the recruitment process isn’t typically cheap), which means that you are going to come well and truly under the microscope to make sure that you live up to expectations.  Whatever impressions your employer has of you during those first few vital months are going to stick, so it’s up to you and you alone to ensure that you give the best possible account of yourself.  Fail to make yourself stand out as a top performer at this stage and you could very well seal a none-too-promising fate for yourself.

The traps that new hires fall into during their first 90 days are many and varied, but most are ones that don’t even cross their minds until after it’s too late.  Often in a state of nervousness and keen to fit into a whole new environment, some make schoolboy errors which they are literally never able to recover from.  Here are just a few examples of the fundamental mistakes which can leave employers wondering whether they made the right choice and new employees wishing they had played things differently.  While some might not appear, at face value, to be of any great importance in the bigger scheme of things, believe me, they can kill careers stone dead!

  1. Mixing with the wrong crowd.  Make no mistake and like it or not, you will be judged by who you associate with.  Take your time to get to know your colleagues and co-workers before forming any close bonds. Hanging out with office gossips, slackers or cliques of individuals who keep themselves separate from the rest of the organization will see you being tarred with the same brush.  Your aim should be to be polite, friendly and respectful towards everyone that you come into contact with, but only to form alliances with the influencers who can help to further your career.  These people don’t necessarily sit at the top of organizations, but they are people who have respect and credibility and whose opinions are listened to and acted upon.
  2. Failing to introduce yourself to the head honchos.  If the people at the top of your organization don’t even know that you exist, the chances of your career going anywhere are slim.  If you want to make the very best impression from the start, schedule a short appointment with the company leaders and use the opportunity to discuss their vision for the organization, how your role fits into that vision and how you can maximize your input towards company objectives in the course of carrying out your role.
  3. Doing no more than is required of you.  Putting in the designated number of hours, sticking rigidly to your job description and learning as you go along might be enough to help you retain your new job, but if you are really going to stand out amongst your peers, you’re going to have to do better than that.  Be the first to arrive and the last to leave during the early days, use every minute and every resource to expand and accelerate your learning and always be prepared to go that extra mile.  Deliver more than is required of you and ahead of schedule if possible to demonstrate the added value that you bring to the organization, and volunteer to take on projects that no-one else wants to touch.  Always aim to consistently exceed your manager’s expectations.
  4. Getting involved in office politics.  Breaching confidentiality, gossiping, talking about colleagues and co-workers behind their backs and at a personal level, becoming involved in office relationships and taking sides in disputes are all major minefields in the workplace.  If you want to ensure a sound professional reputation and be seen as credible, avoid them at all costs.
  5. Asking about promotion.  It should go without saying that you have been hired to fulfill a particular need within your organization and so indicating that you are just using your new role as a stepping stone to something better isn’t likely to go down well.
  6. Failing to engage your manager in weekly performance reviews.  Especially during the first few months of your employment, it is absolutely essential that you find out from your manager how your performance is perceived and where you need to make adjustments in order to excel in your role, rather than merely guessing.  Less regular performance reviews might be perfectly adequate further down the line, but during the initial 90 days you need to sit down and get a blow by blow account of how you are doing.

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