In interviews this week and last week, the candidates asked me the same general question, “What would you recommend new employees do when they first start a job, whether I get this job or just in general?”. This might be one of my favorite questions second to, “What will success look like in your eyes for this role?” – which if asked of everyone you interview with can really tell you if the role is clearly defined.
The question on the start of a job was posed by two relatively younger people who weren’t far out of college, but it did remind me of some people in the past who I have hired and how they approached the job. Generally, whether new to working or new to a job, there are some stark differences on what success looks like.
There is even a book, “Your first 90 days”. From what I can tell, don’t read it. The only person I know that attempted to read it and execute it failed miserably in his first 90 days working for me. I suppose it could be correlation and not causation but it was enough for me not to ever want to read it.
My advice to those candidates is pretty straightforward, there are a few key things to do when you start a job:
Be a sponge and just soak it in. In the first 30 days it is crucial you learn the role and why things are done the way they are done. Do not rely on one person, it is best to triangulate thoughts and opinions to validate things and understand from varying perspectives, this is especially true when multiple departments may touch the process.
Hold opinions to yourself in the first 30-60 days. Write down all the weird things you see and then come back to the list when you know more and see if they are still weird. You may find that what you thought was wrong or weird has a valuable purpose.
Check your ego. This is especially true of recent college graduates. You are viewed as feeling entitled. Don’t worry, I am convinced my generation was viewed the same way but we pretend that we were different when we were younger, we were perfect.
Do not be afraid. While I said to hold opinions to yourself until you understand the how and why, it doesn’t mean that you have to be afraid. You should absolutely ask questions and gain an understanding and never be afraid to question something, just don’t push for change until you are absolutely sure you understand.
The first 30-60 days are crucial to your success, whether in a new job or new role. The impressions people make of you will be everlasting. There is literally no second chance at a first impression.