The New Hire Checklist
The first weeks on the job for any new employee are overwhelming, considering all the introductions, orientation meetings, training sessions, and new hire paperwork and administrative tasks. While these are all important, here are six things new hires should do on their own within their first 30 days to set themselves up for success.
1. Come up with an elevator pitch.
Before you start introducing yourself to everyone, figure out what you’re going to say when you meet them. As the old adage goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
Prepare concise responses for anticipated questions about what you were hired to do, what company or school you’re coming from, and what your professional qualifications are. Give the people you meet a reason to continue building a relationship with you.
“This allows you to focus on the relationships you’re trying build as opposed to the tasks right away. It’s about getting to know people and letting them get to know you,” says Evelyn Walter, VP of HR at Inspirato.
2. Understand your new job and how you’ll be evaluated.
The responsibilities of the job you were hired for could change by the time you start work. Reach out to your manager about what may have changed, and make sure you have a clear understanding of your current role, responsibilities, and authority before you take on any projects.
Also, find out how you will be measured to determine if you are successful in your job. Ask your manager to define the requirements for success in the job. Lisa Quast, career development consultant and CEO of Career Woman Inc., says, “When it comes time for your performance appraisal, you don’t want any surprises, so don’t be afraid to ask your manager to define the requirements for success in the job.”
3. Learn the business.
Before you can start contributing to an organization, you need to figure out how the company works. What are the business objectives? What’s the organizational makeup of the company? How does your company do business?
Take the time to explore the business to help you understand how your work supports departmental and corporate objectives. According to Tracy McCarty, Senior VP of Human Resources for SilkRoad Technology, that’s the biggest difference between average and exceptional employees.
“The exceptional ones are trying to understand before they make decisions or assumptions about what’s going on in the business,” she says. “The people who ask questions and really seek to understand the business and where they fit in end up being the best employees. The employees who wait for all the information to come to them are going to be average at best.”
4. Interview your boss.
According to Quast, the key to being a successful new employee is helping your boss be successful. Find out what keeps your boss up at night and come up with creative ways to alleviate those worries.
Find out how he or she wants to communicate with you to build a positive relationship. For example, does your manager want to meet in person every week for project updates, or would he or she prefer to receive updates less frequently by email?
Also, ask your boss about goals and objectives for the team. Determine how you can use your skills to help the team accomplish those goals.
5. Be ambitious, but have restraint.
You might be eager to start contributing right away and fixing everything you might see wrong with the organization. That intention is good, but tread lightly. As a new hire, you won’t have the historical context about why a policy or process may or may not need fixing.
As McCarty notes, “If you come in and try to make a change and don’t understand why, you might be trying to change the wrong thing. Or you might be giving ‘new’ ideas that have already been done. Ask the questions to seek to understand and then you can be more effective.”
Walter adds, “Be willing to make suggestions, but be careful not to come in guns blazing, calling out all the different things that are broken within your department. You want your team to come to the conclusion of ‘what would we have done without you’ without you sending that message.”
6. Be proactive about your onboarding.
If one day of orientation and a meet and greet with your team is the extent of your company’s onboarding program, you need to be proactive with your managers about their training plan and what you need to accomplish in your first 90 days on the job.
“Be appropriately aggressive about meeting with your manager, discussing your projects, training, and responsibilities, and creating a meaningful 90-day plan,” says Walter. “Then, be proactive about following up at the end of your 30, 60 and 90 days to review and gauge your success.”
All of these things will require extra time and energy on your part, maybe extend beyond the first 30 days on the job. But asking the right questions, building the right relationships, and learning the ins and outs of the business will help you earn credibility and give you the opportunity to add value to your organization faster.
Jennifer King is an HR Analyst at Software Advice, a company that compares and review human resources software. She blogs about trends, technology, and best practices in HR and career development.