Congratulations, you landed the job! After the taxing job search and interview process, you’re finally starting a new job. It’s an exciting time, but also a nerve-racking one. There’s new technology to learn, new people to meet, and a new company culture to understand. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself the first few days—properly adjusting to a new job can take, on average, three to six months.
As you adjust, you’ll likely make a few mistakes. Instead of getting frustrated when things aren’t going completely smoothly, think about how far you’ve come already and stay focused on your goals for the future because at the end of the day, your employer chose you, above all other candidates, for this job.
Looking for some tips on how to make sure your onboarding and first 90 days are as successful as possible? Here’s how to start a new job, make a good impression, and set yourself up for career success.
How to start a new job: the first day
1. Introduce yourself to your team
As you go through training and onboarding, you'll inevitably be introduced to many new faces in the company—whether in person or virtually. Get off on the right foot and make a lasting impression with a memorable introduction like this:
“Hi, my name is Shayla, and I just moved to Manhattan from Memphis. I’m so excited to start working in the sales department—the new acquisition project sounds especially interesting to me. Please don’t hesitate to Slack me if you have any questions or requests for me, and I’m always down to meet up and talk business over a slice of New York pizza!”
2. Be a good listener
On your first day, it’s important to pay attention to your surroundings and follow other people’s lead. You want to make an impression, but you don’t want to interrupt in the middle of a meeting to introduce yourself or dominate the conversation. You’ll be soaking up a lot of information so practice active listening and hear what your higher ups and coworkers have to share.
3. Try to remember names
Remembering names is a simple way to show that you’re attentive and eager to get to know your team. When meeting team members, try repeating their name back to them (“Nice to meet you, Joy”) or writing down a quick note about them afterward. If you forget someone’s name, be honest and say: “My apologies, I’ve been taking in a lot of information. Could you remind me of your name again?”
If you see someone’s name in an email and aren’t sure how to pronounce it when you meet them—or interact with someone who mispronounces your name—check out our guide on how to pronounce names correctly and learn why clearing things up is an important step in creating an inclusive work environment.
4. Ask questions
As a new employee in a new environment, you’re probably going to have a multitude of questions. It’s important to be eager and get up to speed quickly, but you also need to find the right time to ask questions. Prioritize asking questions about the information you need immediately to get the ball rolling.
For example, if you have a question about logging into your work computer or calibrating your access badge, you should ask about it on the first day. But if you’re wondering what the quarterly goals are for the company, you can wait until your first 1:1 to ask your manager.
How to start a new job: the first week
5. Ask your colleagues to coffee
Having friends at work improves employee engagement, productivity, satisfaction, and happiness, so it’s to your benefit to try to make a work buddy. Plus, it’s helpful to have someone who’s been in your shoes before who you trust and can ask questions when you’re first starting out. Invite your new colleagues to lunch or to a virtual coffee date, and ask them questions like:
How long have you been with the company?
What do you enjoy most about your position?
What are you currently working on?
What excites you most about the future of our organization?
Do you have any tips for getting up to speed here?
What do you like to do outside of work?
6. Learn the office
If you’re working in person, take time to figure out where everything in the office is. Where’s the bathroom, printer, meeting rooms, kitchen, and most importantly, the coffee maker? If you work remotely, get to know your virtual office. What are all of the different channels on Slack? Is there a shared drive for important documents? Is there a project management tool for tracking tasks? Ask your boss if there are certain meetings you can attend temporarily to understand how certain aspects of the business work.
7. Consider how you can add unique value
Remember, you were hired for a reason—you impressed the hiring manager and stood out as the right person for this role. Take initiative and volunteer to take on a variety of tasks and projects and offer solutions to any issues or challenges you may have talked about in your interviews. Show early on that you’re a value add to the team.
8. Get to know the company culture
Obviously, not every company has the same culture and way of working, and it can take time to adjust to new communication and leadership styles. Be observant when getting to know how things work around the office. Is the culture super collaborative or does it hinge on more individual work? Are meetings always scheduled in advance with an agenda or do people usually communicate spontaneously over Slack or a quick call? How does the decision-making process work between managers and direct reports?
How to start a new job: the first month
9. Keep track of your small wins
Noting and celebrating your small wins will help you remember that you’re constantly making progress. Plus, when it comes time for a performance review or you want to ask for a raise or promotion, providing concrete metrics, numbers, and achievements will underline your business value to the company and give you a better shot at securing what you want.
10. Define success with your manager
Make sure that you and your manager discuss what success will look like in your role and how it’ll be measured. When success is defined and you’re both aligned on what you’re working toward, you’ll be more engaged in your goals.
11. Set personal goals
Once you have the hang of the basics of your role, start setting some professional development goals. Ask yourself questions about where you see yourself in five or 10 years and what accomplishments you hope to achieve and write your goals down to help hold yourself accountable. You can even seek out an accountability partner to keep you motivated and on track.
12. Organize team-bonding activities
Show your initiative to get to know your team better and organize a few team-bonding activities. This could be anything from a team lunch to a virtual game of Scattergories to an escape room outing. You’ll get to interact and connect with your peers in a different setting, and you’ll likely develop deeper personal relationships.
How to start a new job: the first three months
13. Challenge yourself
The more you challenge yourself at work, the more you’ll learn and grow in your career. After the first few months on the job, you might start to feel like you’re working on autopilot. Don’t allow yourself to become complacent too fast—prioritize pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Take on new projects. Improve your public speaking skills. Learn how to use a new tool. Advocate for yourself and your needs.
14. Set boundaries
There’s a chance you might’ve compromised on some of your boundaries during the first few weeks on your new job, like logging on extra early or taking on more projects than you normally would to help others, for example. After you’ve adjusted to this new setting and you’re comfortable working with your coworkers, establish your personal boundaries in order to do your best work. It’s possible to be a team player while also being able to say “no” professionally.
15. Join a professional group
At this point, you’ve mastered the basics of your job. In order to continuously improve, try joining a professional development or support group in your industry and attend training sessions to network with new contacts and increase your professional visibility.
16. Seek out regular feedback
You’ve made it over the beginner’s hump! Don’t wait until your six-month or annual performance review to ask for feedback—make it a regular occurrence. Ask your manager questions like:
What do I need to focus more on or improve in my role?
What do you think my greatest strengths are? What about weaknesses?
How can I add more value to our team?
Am I meeting your expectations?
Are there additional tasks I should be taking on or skills I should be learning?