What to do in your first 30 days on the job

How crafting an elevator pitch, interviewing your boss and being cautiously ambitious will make you an all-star new hire.

Your first few weeks at your new job can be overwhelming.

There’s often an avalanche of introductions, orientation meetings, training sessions, new-hire paperwork and administrative tasks. While these are all important, there are six additional things you should do in your first 30 days to set yourself up for success.

1. Craft your elevator pitch.

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Before you start introducing yourself to everyone at your new job, figure out what you’re going to say when you meet them.

Prepare succinct 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, vice president of human resources at Inspirato.

2. Understand your role and how your boss will evaluate you.

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.

In addition, understand how your manager will evaluate your performance. Lisa Quast, career development consultant and CEO of Career Woman Inc., advises, “Find out what criteria you will be judged against to determine if you are successful in your job. 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 begin to truly contribute 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?

Taking the time to explore the business will help you understand how your work supports departmental and corporate objectives. According to Tracy McCarthy, senior vice president 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 to help your boss succeed. Find out what keeps your boss up at night, and come up with creative ways to alleviate those worries.

Moreover, you need to establish a positive working relationship with your manager. Find out how he or she wants to communicate with you. 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 the 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 see that’s 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 McCarthy 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.

One day of orientation and a meet-and-greet with your team may be the extent of your company’s onboarding program. If so, be proactive with your managers about their training plans and what you need to accomplish in your first three months 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, and might 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 reviews HR and employee evaluation software. She reports on trends, technology and best practices in HR. A version of this article originally appeared on Careertopia.


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.