A complete guide to starting a new job successfully

Updated 1 September 2023

Starting a new job is an exciting opportunity for you to connect with interesting people and make a great first impression. A successful beginning requires an open mind and a drive to show the best version of yourself. By understanding the nuances of working in a new environment, you can prepare yourself to handle the start of your new position the right way. In this article, we discuss how to begin your new career by exploring what to do within your first week, month and 90-day periods.


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First week of starting a new job

To complete your first week successfully, it's important to find a balance between showing a positive image and not holding yourself to unrealistic pressures and expectations. The primary purpose of the first week is to help you adjust to an unfamiliar work environment so you can get to understand who your colleagues are and how the company's culture operates. Consider the following for your first week:

Begin with introductions

At the start of a new job, communicate in a way that shows your enthusiasm for the job. Find the timing that feels appropriate and give a quick and energetic introduction to the people you don't know yet. If meeting new people is particularly important to you, try to enlist the help of others. Mention to your manager that introducing yourself is a priority for you and ask for a list of people that are important to get to know. In meetings, you could ask the organiser to give you some time at the beginning or end to introduce yourself.

Related: How To Introduce Yourself in an Email

Pay attention to your surroundings

Wait until an appropriate time to introduce yourself or avoid speaking too loudly in communal spaces in case there are others around you who are concentrating on their work tasks. As you're introducing yourself, note how the other person is reacting. If they seem distracted, keep it short. If they seem receptive, you can continue to get to know this person better. Try to make a great first impression by asking the other person about themselves and show your openness to hearing their answer.

Related: 13 helpful tips for a successful first day of work

Do your best to remember names

You can do this by saying the person's name back to them and writing down a quick note when you separate. Don't feel overwhelmed by needing to remember everyone's name. If you forget someone's name, honesty is essential. For example, you could say: 'I'm sorry, I've been taking in a lot of new information over the last few days. Could you remind me of your name?' This can show your colleague that you're acknowledging your forgetfulness and are committed to getting to know them.

Related: Top tips for successful career progression

Find the best time to ask questions

By asking your leaders and peers for new information, you'll likely feel more comfortable quicker. In your first week, try to find the right time to ask questions. Follow these tips to help you ask questions appropriately:

  • Think about your intentions. Be specific about what you're asking to ensure you get the correct information.

  • Prioritise the information you need. For example, if you can't get your computer or access badge to work, that's something to get help with immediately. If you're not clear on the quarterly goals for your team, you can probably wait to talk with your manager about that over the coming weeks.

  • Write down your questions so you don't forget. If you have a lot of questions for one person or group, consider setting up a meeting rather than stopping by their desk or office. In the meeting invite, you can list out the questions you have so they have time to prepare.

Related: 10 questions to ask at your first job offer

Find a friendly colleague or friend

Once you've made some introductions and have a sense of who you'll be working with, ask a new colleague out for lunch or coffee. It could be the person sitting next to you or another newcomer who began working for the company around the same time you did. Developing a trusted relationship can help make you feel more comfortable as you're getting to know an unfamiliar workplace. Seeking someone you can relate to in the short term can provide some needed social stability.

Related: Interpersonal communication: definitions and examples

Discover ways to navigate and integrate with your new work environment

Locate the restrooms, the break area, the stairs, where you can eat lunch and any other amenities your workplace offers. If they haven't given you a tour, consider asking a colleague for one. In this first week, you can also try to experiment with your commute. Find the best times to leave home and test different routes or transportation methods. Identifying and establishing the routines early on can help you feel more comfortable in your new role.

Related: How to overcome new job stress (with steps and tips)

First month in your new position

After one month in the role, it's time to delve into the role's duties. The primary focus during this period is to determine the best way to use your skills to handle the responsibilities and opportunities of the position. Consider the following for your first month:

Become more familiar with your team

It's important to continue making new connections and allowing others to know you as well. By simply being around your new team and attentively observing how everyone works and collaborates, you can gain valuable insights into the company and group culture. This information can help you become more engaged with the way they operate.

Related: Interpersonal skills: definitions and examples

Become organised and establish positive work habits

This job is a new beginning and a good opportunity to establish new routines. Take the first few weeks to decide the best way for you to organise your calendar and to-do lists. You can also try figuring out how to manage your time and develop the essential skills to perform the job successfully.

Related: How To Tell if a New Commute to Work Is Too Long (With Tips)

Confirm your manager's expectations

Find some time during the first month of employment to identify what your manager expects from you and what to expect for yourself. You might try to specify the conditions for working together, the resources you need to perform your duties and how to conduct a performance evaluation. Follow these tips to help guide you with these discussions:

  • Prepare beforehand and manage your time. Try to be more active and engaging with the conversation when you go to your manager for information or assistance.

  • Consider your manager's point of view. Sometimes, the expectations you had originally thought of don't align with what your manager expects from you. You can try to communicate this confusion respectfully, but consider thinking about it from their thought process and try to identify a way to compromise or develop a mutual understanding.

  • Determine your initial successes. As a new employee, you are likely to have a lot of information to consume within a short time frame. While you are becoming more familiar with your manager's core values, try to focus your time and efforts to support their objectives and goals.

Related: Guide: What is a non-compete agreement?

90 days into your new role

The primary focus within the first three months of starting a new job is to claim ownership, accountability and responsibility for your role. Use this time to prepare yourself so you can perform to your greatest potential. Consider the following for your first 90-day period:

Challenge your capabilities

One way to challenge your capabilities is to set goals that are ambitious and require extra effort. Even though these goals may be challenging, it's important that they are also obtainable and realistic. Do your best to achieve these goals by focusing your attention and efforts on duties that help you reach them. As you strive to accomplish your goals, remain positive and stay committed to the immediate tasks. Rather than pressuring yourself to complete everything at once, make time to take regular breaks so you can focus well on your responsibilities.

Set realistic boundaries

During the first month of employment with a new company, finding compromises with your colleagues and managers is common. Sometimes you might stay later, come in early or take on additional assignments to complete a project. Eventually, you may need to adjust those boundaries so that you can complete your own work.

Request a 90-day evaluation

Many companies provide a 90-day evaluation for new employees to ensure they're progressing at a good pace. If your employer doesn't have a review process, initiate one by consulting with your manager or supervisor. This is important because it helps you monitor your own work accomplishments and responsibilities.

Contact your previous colleagues

Once you have familiarised yourself with your position, consider reaching out to your former colleagues. Give them an update about how your new career is progressing. It's important to maintain a professional network so you can rely on them for any future career goals or endeavours that might arise.

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