Go to Menu Starting A Job on The Right Foot
By Nick Corcodilos

You've got a great new job. Now what? How do you parlay the wonderful impression you created in your interviews into success during the first few weeks on your new job? Here's the key: don't wait for the company to "assimilate" you. It's up to you to establish yourself as a valuable employee as quickly as possible.

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Join the team.
Get adopted by someone on your new team, so you can learn quickly the ins and outs of how the work is done. Having a mentor is crucial. This gives you someone to bounce your ideas off of, someone to ask for guidance and someone who can introduce you to others in the company.

Pick the team member who seems to be the informal leader and express your interest in his (or her) work. Don't be a pest, but ask questions. No matter how good you are at your work, what matters most in the first few months is how well you are accepted. The credibility you build among your co-workers will support your efforts to do a good job.

The key to initial success is people: become part of the team.

Be accountable.
Jump in and start doing the job. If you've tried other Ask The Headhunter suggestions you already know that "doing the job in the interview" is critical in winning an offer. You must carry this approach into the job itself. Don't wait to be given work to do.

Find work, do it, then go to your manager and ask him to grade you. I call that a pre-emptive employee review. The earlier you know what your boss thinks of your work, the sooner you can learn how to score high on the boss's measuring stick, and the sooner you will establish a reputation for wanting to be accountable.

Respect the culture.
Many new hires expect that new ideas they bring with them are just what the company needs, and they often go overboard in acting like a breath of fresh air. While it's good to jump right in and participate, it's important to respect the culture and social structure of the team. Earn your way in by helping, not by taking over.

Take responsibility for solving problems.
Everyone wants a "win" when starting a new job, because it's a good way to score points with the boss and the rest of the team. In fact, there's a better way to stand out: become "the fixer". Identify the problems your predecessor left in his wake, take ownership of them and solve them. This may not seem very glamorous, but it's a great way to get noticed while accomplishing something important. And, there's little downside. Almost anything you do to "fix" existing problems will be regarded as improvements. 

When I joined a company early in my career, I devoted the first few weeks to getting to know everyone. I was head of a sales team for a company that had several locations, and our customers were spread all over. I spent half of each day getting to know people at my own location and half locked in my office calling everyone else, including our customers.

I wanted to learn firsthand how others -- including internal people and our customers -- regarded my team. I wanted to give them all a chance to complain, and many of them did. This gave me a great opportunity to learn, and it showed them that I was now taking personal responsibility for any problems they were facing that my company was causing.

The reaction was very positive. Everyone was willing to give the new guy a chance to "do the right thing". As I solved each problem I learned more about the operations of the company. Each person I dealt with immediately got to know me as the guy who fixes things. It got me off on the right foot because I quickly met the important people in my company and among my customers.

Ultimately, the way to succeed at a new job is to make everyone's life a bit easier by doing your job well. To accomplish that, you must mix it up with your team and your customers, figure out where the challenges lie, tackle the problems and get the job done. This may sound trite and obvious, but few people actively dive into a job. Instead, they wait to be assigned work, and they seek to avoid causing problems rather than solving them.

Winning a great new job is exciting. Creating your own initiative quickly will help pave the way to your success.

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