In the October 15, 2013 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader asks how to start a new job off on the right foot:

I’m starting a new job soon, and I’d like your opinion on how to make a great first impression. I can do the handshaking and small talk, but what else? I’ve read that one should meet with the boss at the end of the first day to check in. What other advice can you give me?

Nick’s Reply

It’s a good idea to stop by your boss’s office at the end of your first day to say thanks for the job and to “check in.” But you should also check in with your boss regularly, to ensure you’re meeting his or her expectations and that you understand your objectives.

Be diplomatic and be confident. But don’t just say “hi.” Introduce some substance into your conversation so your boss will take notice of your diligence — because the early impression you create will influence your relationship for a long time to come.

After you’ve been oriented and assigned your first tasks:

  • Take some time to outline the work you have to do.
  • Put it on paper. It need not be fancy, but it should be carefully thought out.

optimizeAlso outline how you’re going to do the work:

  • Lay out an overall strategy.
  • Detail the specific steps you’ll take.
  • Describe the tools you’ll use, and so on.

Don’t forget to:

  • List obstacles you might encounter.
  • Questions you’ll have.
  • Include milestone dates and measures of your own performance.

Then sit down with your boss:

  • Ask for input and comments about your work plan.
  • Discuss how your work will contribute to the company’s (or department’s) profitability.
  • Explain that you want to shape your plan so you’ll fit in with the rest of the team.

Don’t wait for your boss to “review” your performance. Review it for him early and often (without irritating him). That’s the best way I know to Start a Job on The Right Foot because it shows the boss that you’re thinking about the work and about the company’s success. After all, that’s what you were hired for, right?

Best wishes on your first days!

How do you keep your job? Your boss always needs good reasons to keep you on board. How do you do it?

: :

  1. You’re assuming some semblance of normal, rational behavior on the part of the boss.

  2. @Omar: No, but that should come out during job interviews when you ask the boss how his job and your job would contribute to the company’s profits. If the boss cocks his head and looks at you like you’re dandruff, well, then you know.

  3. I’ve tried to do this with my boss at my current job but he is not interested in planning/strategizing. So, I created my own strategy and milestones for achievement. This way I have something tangible to show for the work I currently do.

    I also plan a career change in the next year and would like to implement the above strategies to be successful in my new job.

  4. @dls: Smart move to deal with a dumb boss. And there are too many of those around. What you’re doing is creating a valuable asset. Come review time, you have all you need to justify your job. And if they still don’t see it and you find yourself out the door, you’ve got a ready portfolio that’s far better than a resume.

  5. When I was left to run the market/deli/lottery/cigs/alcohol/paper store I worked at in Palm Beach I kept track of the mistakes I made and it came to a 96% success rate. That’s pretty good for the first day on the job with no help. So when the boss came in at the end of the day I told him ‘Hey! It went great’ then I told him where I made mistakes and he helped me. Great first day and great boss!