How to … survive the first 100 days

You’ve just landed the perfect job, and you think you’ve made it. Not quite. It is generally accepted that the initial months in your first role are the most testing in terms of whether or not you will succeed.

Why is it important?

You’ve just landed the perfect job, and you think you’ve made it. Not quite. It is generally accepted that the initial months in your first role are the most testing in terms of whether or not you will succeed. But a willingness to adopt survival tactics and follow a few clear guidelines should see you through the first 100 days.

And if you make a major commitment to the position, it could even the lay the groundwork for the rest of your career.

Where do I start?

Starting off on the right foot begins well in advance of your actual first day. Make full use of information sources such as corporate websites, company reports and industry publications to learn about the company’s procedures and operations. Your goal should be to know everything possible by the time you walk through the door.

Get oriented

Make sure you arrive early on day one. Expect to take part in a comprehensive induction process, which could last several days. You’ll probably be given a stack of documents, including a company handbook, which you should read. Make the most of any opportunity to ask questions, and as you tour the building, mentally note the location of everything.

During the first few weeks, be prepared to feel disoriented or unchallenged and even for the job not to live up to your expectations.

“You may not realise it, but confusion and sometimes a degree of disappointment that things are not quite what you expected are all part and parcel of starting a new job,”explains Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters.

Pay attention to protocols

Most workplaces have their own unwritten rules and cultural taboos, and it is just as important that you get to know and observe them as it is to adhere to formal company policies and procedures.

Search out individuals who can provide valuable insight about the people and politics of the company as well as the inside track on how things actually work. Keep your eyes and ears open. Watch how others conduct themselves, and alter your behaviour to match.

Manage expectations

It goes without saying that building a good relationship with your manager is crucial to fitting in and successfully surviving the first 100 days. Establish at the outset what their expectations are of you during this make-or-break period. Proactively seek opportunities to show you have an appetite for learning, as this may lead to you being given early responsibility. Talk to your boss regularly to find out what they think of your work and progress.

The next 100 days

Once you have shown you are absolutely on the ball and making a significant contribution in your role, maintain your credentials further by consistently matching or exceeding expectations in every task. Attend seminars, conferences and workshops for fresh ideas and practices and to hear about the latest HR thinking and trends.

Always be alert to new learning experiences and continue to broaden your skills and competencies via training and ongoing professional development.

For more information

Book New Kid on the Block: 10 Steps to Help You Thrive and Survive in the First 100 Days of Your New Job, by Frances Kay, Cyan Books, ISBN 1904879527

By Scott Beagrie. Courtesy of Personnel Today magazine. www.personneltoday.com

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