Starting a new job

You will almost definitely have several stakeholders to satisfy, not just your boss, and they each will define ‘success’ in their own terms and using their own biases


Kevin is the founder and owner of JOB Search -

First rule: start before you start. Research your new employer as much as you can (get to know the unofficial as much as the official); use the power of visualisation (visualise what you will do and not do in your first week); and forget about your previous employment (‘What got you here, won’t get you there’).  

You are about to start a new journey; with a company that has a different culture; and with new people. Therefore, you must be willing to learn (fast), adapt and mould yourself to the new work environment and culture.  

A lot of candidates adopt the attitude that once selected and the job offer has been accepted, they can take their foot off the proverbial accelerator pedal. In reality, you are as much under the microscope, in your first few weeks/months of your new job as you were during the interview process.

The new colleagues and team mates are forming their opinion about your strengths and weaknesses and these first-impressions will live with you into the foreseeable future.  

A common mistake new employees make is to run around like a headless chicken, over-eager to please and say ‘yes’ to almost anything.

Don’t fall into this trap. Time is precious so focus on the important.

Ask yourself, how can I add value to my role, my team mates and the company in general. Focus on the important and if you don’t know what it is ‘ask’. Don’t be shy to ask and ask again.

You also need to know how you are going to be assessed; therefore, ask your boss how your performance will be assessed and by whom.

You will almost definitely have several stakeholders to satisfy, not just your boss, and they each will define ‘success’ in their own terms and using their own biases, so find out who they are and what their expectations might be.

Also make sure you have a good relationship with your HR Head or HR Manager, since probably they will be one of your biggest supporters at the beginning of your employment. Therefore, seek his/her counsel and guidance.

Next, think ‘quick-wins’ and take it week by week (adapting on a need basis). Don’t be all strategic and long-term; at the beginning, you are almost in survival mode; people will be forming an opinion of you on the fly and will not give you much of a chance.

Don’t forget you are the external recruit who might have taken the place of an internal; and don’t over-think or be too ambitious.

Keep in mind that you still haven’t formed your bond with your new colleagues and you don’t yet have the complete trust of decision makers. Therefore, focus on quick-wins and gain positive momentum quickly. Your time will come to be strategic and add real value to your role and the company.

What you do outside the office is equally important! By this I mean, sleep early, keep fit and eat well. High performance at work can only be achieved, if outside of your working hours you do the right things.

When you start a new job, you are processing a lot of new information, emotionally you are excited which will drain you and the whole experience will take its toll on your body and mind in the initial few weeks/months.

This means sleeping early during the week and charging your battery over the weekend. It may sound simplistic but trust me, experience has shown that physical and mental wellbeing are as important as qualifications, experience and attitude.

Finally, there are the obvious “Don’ts”, which I cringe as I write them here but I can assure you most millennials fall foul to when starting a new job.

Don’t try to prove yourself too quickly. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen young recruits backed by a strong CV, fall flat on their face in the first week. Better to eat some humble pie, absorb as much as you can and ask ‘dumb’ questions until you know your new work environment well enough.

I am here referring to informal decision-making structures, political spheres of influence and key people. You are not taught this, so you have to observe and learn using your wits and emotional intelligence to navigate and understand the dynamics of your new work place.

Also don’t leave work early! In your first month(s), you should be immersed in your work and this will require you to stay on at work longer than normal and this until you get to grips with everything.

Lastly, don’t be overconfident or try to lecture people about how things were done in your old place of work. Boasting and overconfidence, will set you up for failure since people will instinctively be put off.  

Starting a new job, no matter at what stage in your career, requires a lot focus, energy and commitment. Don’t underestimate the process even if you have a lot of experience and the qualifications to make a success of your new job.

Like in everything, hard work, being humble and being disciplined in your behaviour are the key elements to making a success of your new job.

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