How to Stand Out in the First 6 Months of a New Job
If you’re about to start a new job, chances are you’re rejoicing that the job hunt is over—but the hard work has just begun. While it’s important to impress your manager and colleagues in the job interview (and you must have if you got the job!), it’s arguably even more important to continue exceeding expectations after you join. Here are a few pointers for standing out in your first six months on the job.
Make relationships your number one priority
The first month in a job is an important time to meet new colleagues, both inside and outside of your team—and it’s important to continue cultivating those relationships in the months that follow.
Do this in ways that feel natural to you. If you’re a fan of formal feedback, schedule in periodic feedback chats with your manager and colleagues. If you’d prefer a more casual approach, put in the effort to organize coffee or drinks with the people you work closely with. You don’t have to be a manager to suggest team activities, and chances are your manager will appreciate the initiative.
Importantly, be sure these efforts are not only focused on your manager or people above you. While it is important to be on the radar of higher-ups, it’s equally critical that others you work with—or who work under you—get their fair amount of attention. Spending all your effort on people above you can be perceived as sucking up—which means you’ll not only not build relationships with other colleagues, but potentially that they’ll distrust your motives.
Write down your goals, and get feedback on them
Your manager might have a very defined set of goals for you, particularly if you’re in a role like sales which typically has very measurable and predetermined targets. If this isn’t the case, however, it’s important to give yourself some goals to work towards.
Think about it like this: If you haven’t set yourself a target, how will you be able to measure whether you’ve done a good job after six months? Putting tangible deliverables on paper—even if they change—is a good way to both stay on track as well as to create evidence for your manager and colleagues that you can deliver. This is no doubt helpful for formal reviews, but can be equally as useful as a reflection tool to make sure you’re prioritizing the right things.
You might write your goals in collaboration with your manager and/or colleagues. If you come up with them on your own, however, be sure to seek feedback from (at least) your manager, as you’re still new to the role and want to be sure you’re focusing on the right things.
Lastly, remember that goals aren’t useful if you simply write them down and forget about them. Schedule yourself reminders to review your progress, either alone or with others, which can give you a chance to re-adjust if things aren’t going as planned.
Keep an open mind and ask questions
While starting a new job can be daunting because there’s a lot to learn, being new to the company also gives you a fresh perspective—and one that can be invaluable to the rest of the team. Since you’re coming in without preconceptions or biases, you may well identify areas for improvement that others have overlooked.
It’s therefore important that you ask questions when you don’t understand why things are a certain way, rather than accepting them at face value. Just because a process, standing meeting, team structure, etc. exists in a certain way, that doesn’t mean that it’s right—and as a new hire, you’re in a unique place to be able to identify inefficiencies and broken processes.
That said, approach areas for improvement with curiosity, rather than judgement. There may well be a reason that something is done a certain way, and it’s better to appear curious and learn something new than to assume you know the right answer (and be proven wrong).