The Power of First Impressions: Your First 90 Days

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The first 3 months in a job are the most important. People are using this period to evaluate you and decide if they like you or not. They are also deciding if you have the skills that you said you had. This realization can put a lot of pressure on you and make you feel like more of an outsider than you already do.

Flawed Hiring Process

The job search process that has become the standard across the country is an imperfect system. We are using things that you said you did in the past to determine how well you will do something in the future.

career, resume, 90 days, interview

The hiring manager also has to trust their judgement of your personality and hope that it aligns with the existing team. They only had a couple hours to determine how you will work with the team for 8 hours a day, every day, for years to come.

There is a lot of risk that they were wrong, and they recognize this. So your job is to ensure they feel comfortable with their decision, for at least the next 90 days.

Why 90 Days

In most companies, they have a policy where it is easier to fire a candidate within the first 90 days. They usually call this a probationary period.

That is why there is so much pressure on the new hire when they first start. You have already left your old job and if you do not make a good impression quickly, you could be unemployed. That is a scary thought.

As the new hire, your main goal is to make sure you impress your new team as quickly as possible to assuage their fears and make sure you’re not gone as quickly as you came.

First Impressions

When you start at a new company, you will usually have competing priorities. You will have to meet people, remember names, learn the layout, learn the culture and learn your manager’s style. Hopefully you remembered as much as you could from the interview, but if not here is what you should focus on.

career, resume, 90 days, interview

Firstly, you need to remember everybody’s name. People are generally very self-centered and if you can remember their name they will be impressed. It will make them feel important. Also if you know their name before they know yours, they will feel a little guilty.  This guilt will make them look for the best in you, and that will definitely work in your favor.

Secondly, your communication is very important in a number of ways. When you first start a job you may have to attend orientation or get your security badge or something else that your manager will not be there for. Be sure to communicate your schedule to your manager so they do not wonder what you are doing or working on.

Also, how you interact with your new team is very important. Don’t be the guy who talks too much or always has something to say. However, on the other side of that, don’t be the recluse who sits in his cubicle and never talks to anybody. People want to like their teammates and coming off as annoying or weird is the quickest way to make someone dislike you.

Don’t Be Helpless

When we first began our careers and we were fresh out of college, people treated us like it. Our managers constantly checked on us, they told us what we should be doing and where we should be going.

I’m sure most of you are well beyond your first professional job and your behavior should reflect that. Nobody is going to babysit you and make sure to take care of everything you need to do your work. That is up to you.

If you are waiting on systems access, you need to follow up with the help desk to make sure someone is working on it. Do you need office supplies? Then find out where they are and go get them. If you have nothing to do, ask your manager or teammates how you can be of assistance. Maybe you do not have the ability to help because of system access, so sit with them to learn what they are doing.

The point is people do not want to help you with every little thing. They are already going to have to train you, so you should try to ease their work load as much as you can.

Learn, Learn, Learn

Obviously when you start a new job you are going to have to train to do the work. However, so many people handle this period poorly and do not take full advantage of the opportunity.

career, resume, interview, 90 days

As mentioned earlier, you are constantly being judged during your first 90 days. The most important thing you should focus on is doing the job correctly. It is easy to lose focus when there are so many other competing priorities that go along with a new job.

The first thing you should ignore are any required compliance trainings that do not have tight deadlines. Because we do not have many things to do at first, it’s easy to look busy by online trainings. Unless these trainings are teaching you how to do your job, put them off as long as possible. As long as you do not miss the deadline nobody is going to have a lot to say.

What you should focus on is studying. Take as many notes as possible. Write everything down in the most organized way possible. Then, when you get home or when you have down time, rewrite your notes. Then review them again to make sure it makes sense.

If something you’ve written down doesn’t make sense after reviewing it, ask questions right away. People will have no problem helping you work out these questions within a few days of training you. However, if you wait a month to ask or if you’re doing it incorrectly they will not be so forgiving. You need to close these gaps in your learning as quickly as possible.

Starting a new job can be very stressful and rightfully so. There is a lot on the line and you do not want to jeopardize your opportunity.  


First Impressions Matter

Don’t be Helpless

Learn, Learn, Learn

The way you begin your new job will provide momentum throughout your time there. Make sure it’s positive momentum.



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