First 30 days in a new job – 30 tips to remember

By Robert Half on 15 September 2018

Tomorrow is the first day of your new job at a new company.

Feeling nervous? Are you going to fit in? Is this the right job for you? Do you have the right skills?

It is perfectly normal to feel anxious, after all, it’s in the first 30 days in a new job (often your probationary period), where you rapidly need to learn the ropes and ensure you make the right first impression.

Follow these 30 top tips for starting a new job to ensure your first 30 days in a new job set you up for success and help you create a positive impression with your manager and co-workers.

How to maximise the first 30 days in a new job

1. Be prepared
The night before your first day, make sure you work out your timings for the following day. Plan what you will wear and lay it out ready. You should also decide what you will need to take with you, such as a notebook, pen and money for lunch.

2. Get a good night’s sleep
Showing up to work while still half asleep will not only affect your performance, but can also inadvertently demonstrate a lack of interest. Sleep deprivation also affects everything from memory to blood pressure. It’s important you get a good night’s sleep so you can be at your best on your first day at work.

3. Look and dress the part
You will have dressed impeccably for your interview and gained an insight into what the company dress code is. Don’t let yourself down by not making an effort now. If you are unsure about the dress code, be conservative and dress smartly. This shouldn’t just be on your first day, but every day. You won’t get another chance at creating a positive first impression.

4. Be on your best behaviour
On your first day, arrive early, be polite and courteous - good manners go a long way.

5. Embrace the induction process
Someone will have taken the time to put together an in-depth induction program to help any new starter integrate into their new role. Make sure you actively take part in the program, ask questions, complete the training exercises and absorb all the knowledge being given to you. It may feel overwhelming, but break everything down into bitesize chunks and take lots of notes to refer to later. Remember, no-one is expecting you to be an expert on day one, but they do want to see you trying to understand how everything is done.

6. Set realistic goals
Hopefully the induction process will allow you to set goals for the next 30/60/90 days. If it doesn’t, be proactive and ask your manager if you can have a meeting to implement a plan for the next few weeks. Having a plan for your first 30 days in a new job for example, will allow you to understand what your manager’s expectations are and what you need to focus on.

7. Review your goals
Setting realistic goals is only half the plan. You need to arrange to meet regularly with your manager so that you can review the goals you initially set, discuss if you are meeting expectations and allow you and your line manager to feedback on your performance.

8. Get to know your colleagues
Meeting new people can be extremely daunting, but remember, they were all newcomers to the office once, so they know exactly how you are feeling. They will be there for you so say hello and get to know them. Go to lunch if invited and chat in the kitchen, as these are great opportunities to help understand the office rhythms and nuances.

9. Avoid gossip
Office politics happens and can often be hard to avoid, but do your best not to get caught up in them. If anybody tries to engage you in a non-professional conversation about somebody else, avoid the conversation.

10. Perfect your 60-second round-up
You will meet a lot of people during your first 30 days in a new job, so prepare your 60-second “pitch” of who you are, where you came from and what your new role is. You will probably repeat yourself a lot, so it will help you to simplify what to say.

11. Be honest
You will be on your best behaviour, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be yourself. Part of getting to know people is letting them know who you are. Be true to your values and be honest, even if that sets you apart.

12. Be curious
There is no such thing as a “stupid” question. Your manager would rather you ask the question than misunderstand and complete a task wrong or pick up bad habits. Be mindful that the person sharing knowledge with you is probably extremely busy, so if you think of a question but can see that they have a lot on their plate, write it down so you can ask when the time is right.

13. Non-work-related questions
You may have questions that you don’t feel you should bother your manager with, such as “Where is good spot for lunch?” This is a chance to cultivate relationships in the office with an open question to friendly staff who may be able to help.

14. Be flexible and open-minded
Everything is going to be new to you, so you need to take time to get used to internal systems and processes. Don’t try to follow the old practices from your previous company. Be flexible to your new surroundings and the more open-minded you are and the more questions you ask, the easier and quicker it will be for you to settle in.

15. Prioritise the most important things to learn
The number of things you need to learn can feel overwhelming, so revisit the goals you set with your manager, check the timeline for when you are supposed to have completed a task/training topic and prioritise accordingly. Make a to-do list and keep updating it. If in doubt, ask for clarification.

16. Don’t ruffle feathers
The first 30 days in a new job is not the time to challenge the way in which things are currently being done. You may disagree with the way a process is currently operating. Or you may not properly understand why it is being run that way. However, use this first month to observe, absorb and understand. You need to be work on gaining people’s trust and confidence in your abilities so that you can then challenge the norm at a later point, if you still disagree.

17. Double check everything
In your first month, you will have to work extra hard to ensure your work is impeccable. Double check and triple check all your work to spot any errors. Mistakes will happen, but ensuring your work is to a high standard will ensure you create a great impression.

18. Own your mistakes
It’s a fact that everyone learns by making mistakes. Your employer will anticipate that you will make a few errors, particularly when you first start. Remember though that it is what you do once you have made the mistake that makes the difference. Respect will be gained if you own up to making a faux-pas immediately and if you show you understand what went wrong and what you need to do to fix it.

19. Show that you care
Being passionate about the company and your role is a sure-fire way to ensure you earn your colleagues respect. Understand the needs of your team and help where you can. You may not be able to fully help, but by demonstrating that you care and are making the effort, it will show that you are a team player.

20. Be enthusiastic
Exhibit the right amount of enthusiasm with an upbeat, can-do attitude and people will be quicker to warm to you.

21. Identify opportunities for quick wins
You need to be able to justify yourself as being the right hire, so identify any opportunities where you can quickly make an impact. Plan how you can make that impact visible, decide if it’s in-line with the company objectives and whether you have the right skills to complete the task.

22. Cultivate a strong relationship with your manager
This first month is the time to get to know your manager and how they operate as a leader. Learn about their approach to the business and how they strive for excellence.

23. Learn the lines of authority
Though the lines of authority are often quite straightforward, there may be instances in which other stakeholders are invested in your team’s work. Observe, listen and make a mental note of who answers to which team members.

24. Bring your full self to work
You were hired above all others because you have the skills and experience that this company wanted and there were probably other skills you demonstrated that were not on the job description. Don’t let being the “newbie” diminish your skills and personality.

25. Arrive early and stay late
Turn up to work ten minutes early and leave a few minutes late at the end of the day. Don’t rush out the door as the minute hand ticks over to 5.00pm. Use the extra time wisely though to invest in learning - don’t just waste this time.

26. Plan and reflect
Take 30 minutes every day to reflect; 15 minutes in the morning to plan for the day ahead and 15 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on how you got there and what you didn’t manage to complete. This will help to organise your mind and your workload.

27. Find a mentor
Your company may have assigned you a “buddy” or your manager may be responsible for being your mentor. If you don’t have one though, find one. Successful people can find a mentor that can guide them through the trials and tribulations of the first 30 days in a new job. When you have a mentor, make the most of their time and generosity, whilst absorbing their knowledge and experience.

28. Your outside-of-work support
The first month at a new job can be hard. You may feel like you’ll never learn it all. You may cringe at not having all the answers. You may make mistakes. You may have less confidence. This is perfectly normal though. Having friends and family that you can offload to when you get home will help you keep everything in perspective, so you can stay focussed in work.

29. Turn your mobile off
After a long day at work, it’s important to give yourself some time to rest, so you’re ready for tomorrow. But how do you expect to unwind if you’re constantly checking your work emails via your mobile, or if you’re glued to social media? Turn your mobile phone off whenever possible, or even better, keep it in your bag so it is out of sight and not a distraction.

30. Rest
Starting a new job, where you have a new environment to adapt to, new colleagues to get to know and new things to learn can be exhausting. Remember to take a breather, relax and step away from it all. Don’t plan too much in your personal life during the first 30 days in a new job, giving you the necessary time to rest and regroup.

The first 30 days in a new job is the time when the company will make allowances and invest a lot of training time in you - you do not get that time again. Use it wisely and make it count.

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