Starting a new job is often a mix of emotions: excited, nervous, and frequently, overwhelmed. Regardless of the company and role, the first 30 days are instrumental in setting yourself up for success. Use these 10 tips to help you get the most out of your first interactions, and ensure you’re ready for the inevitable challenges.1. Introduce yourself – a lot
No matter the role or team, it’s important to take the initiative to introduce yourself when starting a new job. You likely won’t know everyone you will end up working with over time. Establishing introductions early will help you connect with more of your colleagues and avoid awkward interactions down the road. Even if you’re not a social butterfly, make an effort to at least say a quick hi – it’ll be worth it.2. Ask questions
No one expects coworkers starting a new job to know everything at first. Even if you’ve performed the exact role somewhere else, there will be things to learn about your new role and company. It might be workflows, policies, or leadership preferences.
Approach this time with a beginner’s mind. Demonstrate your curiosity, interest, and enthusiasm. Ask questions when they come up – of leaders, peers, and people across the business. This helps you accelerate your learning, build interpersonal connections, and get a broader understanding of the company, your team, and role.
Take notes during presentations to ask at the designated time. The goal is to be inquisitive, not disruptive. Listening is equally important to asking so be receptive to answers with eye contact and active feedback. Don’t forget to follow up with a thank you. This not only expresses your gratitude for their time and response, but fosters a positive relationship moving forward.3. Say yes
Even if you’re not exactly sure what you’re saying yes to, accept new opportunities. Perhaps a different team is looking for help on a project, or your manager has an unexpected request. By diving in you may earn respect, learn more about the business, and explore your potential there.
While it might be tempting to say yes in an effort to please colleagues or take it all in, do not overextend yourself. As you establish a good impression at the start of your new job, you don’t want to compromise the quality of your work by spreading yourself too thin. To combat this, ask questions about the project or opportunity, and discuss it with your team lead or manager. Ask for their help prioritizing and setting realistic expectations about these extra tasks.4. Set goals as part of starting a new job
Starting a new job often comes with (at least) some ambiguity. It’s only natural to want to get your bearings before committing to goals. However, you should have some preliminary targets to help you focus early on.
Your goals might change but this will help set you on the right track – or realize you should consider a different path. Many companies have best practices around creating a 30-60-90 day plan to structure priorities and communicate expectations during intro meetings.
Related: 30/60/90 eBook with free template for employers onboarding tech engineers.
Identify three goals for your new job.
One of the big outcomes of going through a job search is you learn a ton about yourself. In particular, you learn what you want and don’t want, and what skills you bring to the table vs. the ones you want to build on. With this new-found understanding, take some time to think about what goals you have for your new role.
For example, own certain projects for the company. Bring something new to the table or build a new skill set. By identifying goals early, and figuring out how to execute against them, you’ll be one step closer to positioning yourself for success.5. Keep a list of roadblocks/opportunities
You have an incredible advantage as a new employee. When you’re onboarding, you have “fresh eyes.” This perspective is often a great value to your team and company. This is not about noting failures or complaints. Use starting a new job as detecting opportunities and potential solutions.
Keep a list and review them with others as appropriate. It might be in a 1:1 with your manager, or among team members. Sometimes, it’s helpful to phrase them as questions.
For example, “I’ve noticed we refer to X by Y. Is that an internal term? What’s the reason behind that?” Remember, you’re showing curiosity and interest.
If, in this example, there’s no good reason or history to support this label, then introduce your suggestion. “I wonder if it confuses customers? Most people refer to X as Z, even if it’s not the technical name. Maybe we should rethink the communication around X to make it easier for our customers to find.”6. Ask to be included
Leverage being new to the team – you don’t know everything yet. Use this to your advantage by asking to be included in anything you are interested in. The worst answer you can get is no – and even then, colleagues and leaders will appreciate your curiosity, a valuable quality in a new team member.
Things are going to be different from your last job and that’s OK! It’s important that you approach your new job with an open mind, and that you’re ready to soak it all in. Be patient with yourself as you figure out how you fit in with your work streams, teams, and company culture, and make sure you understand the way things are done before jumping into suggestions on improvements.7. Figure out who you need to know
Be aware of who to reach out to when you need to accomplish something. Use introductory meetings to understand how your role overlaps with and affects others. This will help you stay organized when seeking assistance with future tasks and provides direction amid what can feel like a sea of people.
Approach individuals wisely and don’t make the mistake of discounting support staff. Whether interviewing or working, treat everyone with respect. It’s often administrative staff who become allies or have the ear of key decision makers.
Being friendly with an executive’s personal assistant, for example, often helps to keep you in the loop on important conversations and decisions.8. Build alliances when starting a new job
Observe and identify people you’d like to know better. They may be especially sharp, seem to have things figured out, or make a comment on a common interest. Even if you don’t end up working together, it’s important to form friendships in any workplace – for your sanity, professional network, and understanding of the company.
Make an active effort to connect with a variety of colleagues. This includes team members across a range of levels and with varying tenure. You’ll collect a diverse portfolio of perspectives. Established employees can offer deep institutional knowledge to help reduce your learning curve, while new hires (like you!) can bring fresh ideas and the camaraderie you need to feel settled.9. Get to know your team
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the beginning of a new job is prime time to really get to know your team. You generally get a bit of a pass when it comes to your output in the first few weeks, so take the time to set up one-on-ones, lunches, or whatever it takes to integrate into the larger team.
In addition to understanding what each person is responsible for within the business, do what you can to get to know them as people. Building authentic relationships generally leads to more effective collaboration and fewer tensions when resources are constrained.
If your new boss and coworkers invite you to lunch – GO!
Going to lunch with your boss and coworkers will allow you to get to know the folks you’ll be working with on a more personal level, and outside of the office setting. This can in turn ease some of your nervousness or first-day jitters. Going to lunch also helps you get a read on personalities, work styles, and other characteristics.
This informs your work and how to navigate your workplace. To ensure your first-day lunch goes well, have a few conversation starters in your back pocket. In the event the lunch conversation dries up, you can offer up a couple fresh discussion topics (i.e. big news stories, personal anecdotes, what show you’re binging).10. How to connect when starting a new job remotely
Working from home, or remote work, for many employees has become the preferred option. In a Hired survey, only 1% of respondents said they preferred an in-office environment 100% of the time. So, if you’re starting a new job remotely, how do you make personal connections with your new co-workers? In a WFH setting, you’ll need to be extra intentional about communicating and making the effort to connect.
Dropbox, like many large companies, uses co-working spaces like Studios. Located in many metropolitan areas, Studios provide spaces for co-workers to meet up, conference rooms for meetings, or just to get out of the home office for a while.
Dropbox Technical Recruiting Manager Marcus Mackey used one to participate in a Hired webinar event.
“I’m in our New York studio today. I’m doing this panel and there’s a number of other folks here as well. I try to get in here once a week to meet with a couple of folks on my team, to build those connections in person, which I think are super important.”
Identify immediately which tools the company uses and familiarize yourself with them. Schedule casual introductory meetings, or “coffee chats,” and attend the company-hosted virtual events. Happy hours or “game nights” via Zoom may be essential to feeling integrated and comfortable with your team.
Outside of video, you can also be an active communicator via chat. See if your company has group chats available for employees to connect and discuss topics that may or may not be related to work. At Hired, fun Slack channels are aplenty (“Pupdates,” “Random Coffees,” and “Book Club” to name a few).
The “Random Coffees” channel, for instance, randomly pairs two employees each week for a one-on-one virtual meeting “over coffee.” These virtual “watercoolers” humanize our interactions and support socialization among employees across all teams and time zones. Consistently contributing and participating demonstrates your interest in being part of the team and helps you develop bonds in spite of the distance.Starting a new job is easy when you are ready to hit the ground running.
Implementing these tips will help you confidently establish yourself in a new role and make your first month a little less overwhelming. When you make your presence known, express your interest and enthusiasm in work, and make an effort to connect with team members, you are off to a strong start.
Originally published in January 2020. Updated in April 2023.
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