Starting a New Job

Cross Your Ts, Dot Every I

  • There are a host of “new to the job” checklists on the internet:  on average, they’re okay.  If you didn’t get one from your employer, look to universities and government agencies for the better ones.  While they’re usually written for managers, you can reverse-engineer one for your own use.
  • I prefer a dry but clear employee handbook to an “inspiring” one.  Either way, before or soon after, you start, read it.  It’s a cultural artifact, and it’s documentation of what’s expected of you.  Both are important.
  • Make your HR rep happy and get all of your admin stuff done ASAP.  The sooner you enroll in all of your benefits programs, the better for everyone.
  • Michael Watkins originally wrote The First 90 Days (Amazon) (Library) for corporate executives who must jump into senior level jobs and show their worth, quickly.  So, it probably wasn’t designed exactly for you.  Its dry, corporate tone is not terribly endearing.  That said, it’s a good book to read before, or soon after, starting a new job:  it’s about what you need to do to set and meet goals, and to find the relationships that will support and sustain you.

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Culture: What Not to Wear

  • It can be tough to take, but your track record doesn’t really come with you: in a new company or first job, you’re starting over.  Work with your manager to make sure that you agree on your goals.  Then, communicate regularly about your status and accomplishments.  This is what will be visible to your colleagues and management:  it will become your track record.
  • Until you have that track record, it will be tough to negotiate new terms at work, like your position, schedule, or changes in comp.  The best way to earn credibility is to do what’s asked of you, on time:  especially when it is made explicit.  Keeping an organization running is no easy thing.  If you’ve been asked to do something, assume it’s important until you’ve become trusted to prove otherwise.
  • If you’re a new grad, or you’ve been working as a freelancer, the physical demands of a “9-to-5” situation are a big change.  It’s stressful, especially if you’ve moved to a new city.  Be sure to eat, sleep and renew yourself.  For some, “renewal” means dialing back on social obligations.  For others, more trips to the museum, or naps on weekends.  Know yourself.

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You’re The Boss

  • “You should know what the first six weeks will look like before they even get there. What do you want them to accomplish in the first 90 days?”  Onboarding is more than HR getting forms filled out, and loading up your new hire with swag:  you need to set some goals for your new hire.  Employee Onboarding at Startups Is Broken – Here’s How to Fix It, via First Round Review.
  • Another approach taken by an entrepreneur in my circle, Veronika Sonsev:  learn your new hire’s development goals, and work with them to achieve them.  Lightweight, via my blog.
  • Whether you’re a manager, or a new hire, or both:  if you’re asked to break the law or your organization’s policies, to violate your own values, or to endanger yourself or others, don’t keep it to yourself.  When in doubt, consult someone who knows you, and whose ethics and experience you trust.  If you’re a manager:  be this person for your people.

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from the October 1/2, 2017 edition of How to Have a Job

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©copyright Anne Libby, 2017