How to Crush Your First Month in a New Job
Starting a new job can make you feel like the new kid in school – overwhelmed, unsure, and full of first day jitters. Thankfully, careers in tech are surging, giving way to a range of positions for eager and talented tech professionals who are ready to hit the ground running.
Those entering the tech field for the first time may feel even more in the dark about what to expect in their new roles. Thus to overcome first day nerves, it can help to be as prepared as possible. Here are a few tips to consider as you plan out your first month of work.
Before you start
You might wonder how to succeed at a new job you have never done before. Prior to beginning your job as a new tech professional, be sure to research your new workplace and find out the policies, procedures, aims of the company itself. Follow these tips to feel informed on your first day.
Review your job description.
It can be helpful to prepare for your new job by reviewing the duties and expectations associated with your role. Include a review of any notes taken during the interview process, and review and play with any languages and frameworks you know will be used in your role.
Do your research.
Review the company website and utilize Google and social media platforms to learn about the structure and aims of the company. Knowing the most up-to-date news and having a sense of the bigger picture of the company will give you an edge as you learn the ropes. Consider the following questions in your search.
- What is the company culture? How do employees behave and what are the shared beliefs and values across the leadership team? Organizational culture can set a context for everything a company does, so research management and learn how they foster a supportive community.
- How does the company make money? Research what the company is actually selling, and where they make the most revenue. Does the company sell products or services? How do they advertise? What are the public-facing unit economics and how have revenues and costs changed year over year? By understanding the bottom line, you will better understand the financial drive of the company itself.
- Who are the competitors? How does the company’s premium content or messaging vary from competitors? How do they position their products and what are their competitive advantages? Understanding how the company fits in the market will be valuable as a tech professional who may be tasked with helping the brand optimize or stand out. Consider how your role might intersect with your company’s messaging.
- Who are the customers? Consider who your company is selling to and if or how your work will directly impact the customer. By understanding your audience, you will be able to develop and maintain products your customers can use and understand.
Learn the company’s elevator pitch (and prepare an introduction!)
After completing research about your new company, put together a three to four sentence elevator pitch about the organization and your specific role. Being able to articulate what you are doing and why will help as you tell others about your new role and will help others within the organization understand how you fit in the greater picture. Unsure how your role fits in? That’s ok! Understanding what you will be doing can be an important day one question with your new supervisor.
Be sure to prepare a less formal introduction about yourself as well, which will help others in the organization get to know you more personally. For instance, you can include where you live, a bit about your family, and a memorable hobby you enjoy.
Planning your first day is an important way to set yourself up for success. Here are a few tips to ensure you are unforgettable (for all the right reasons).
First impressions matter.
When starting a new job, it’s important to put your best foot forward. Thanks to the Halo Effect, an unconscious positive or negative judgment during a first meeting can color the perception of an individual and confirm preexisting beliefs. To ensure you make a good impression, arrive early, stay late, and engage others with a positive attitude on your first day (and beyond). Don’t forget to dress the part as well. Professional attire will subconsciously communicate to your team that you are reliable, organized, and approachable.
Make the rounds.
Meeting individuals on your team is an important first step to settling in at your new job. However, if you are doing remote work, this may present an added barrier to connecting with your team and other important individuals in your new office. Ask your supervisor to be added to any relevant listservs and make an effort to send a warm hello email to your team. Notice those you hear back from – they may be an invaluable resource as you get acquainted. If you are physically present in your office, make time to walk around and say hello or ask your supervisor to give you an introduction with members of your team. Be sure to meet those outside your department as well, such as office managers, receptionists, security, and maintenance personnel. After all, it takes a village to run a company and everyone is valuable.
Being in the dark as a new employee can be uncomfortable, yet a new job presents new opportunities to learn. Consider this – to learn in your new role you need to be vulnerable. You won’t be an expert at your job until you have learned the policies, procedures, and expectations that will shape your workload. By asking questions you will not only demonstrate a willingness to learn, but you will eliminate confusion and subconsciously let others know they are important and that you are excited to work with them. Additionally, your questions might stimulate creativity or highlight areas needing quality improvement. In this way your questions can serve as an asset rather than a bother.
If you have trouble catching your supervisor, find a more senior colleague on your team who has been in your role before. They will know what you are going through and can help troubleshoot the ins and outs of your daily tasks.
Ask for help.
Take your questions a step further and ask your supervisor and teammates for help. Asking for help on the first day can initiate a foundation of trust and communication and can signal to others that you find them knowledgeable and important. Additionally, asking for help can show others that you don’t know it all and are open to learning how to do things the company’s way. This will reinforce to others why they invested in you in the first place!
The first day can be nerve wracking, but the first week at a new job can set the tone for your work experience. Consider these tips to make your first week smooth and successful.
Understand your expectations.
Meet with your supervisor to discuss your role, performance metrics, and your daily, weekly, and monthly associated tasks in depth. Develop a calendar of tasks to meet these metrics, including any needed training, for your first month. This will help keep you on track and ensure you have the support you need to jump into projects.
The beginning of a job is a good time to get acquainted with your organization’s org chart and familiarize yourself with their key partners as well. This way you will better know your role within the organization and be more prepared if pulled onto a project with a stakeholder. Further, understanding the needs of your partners and what they expect will give you the confidence to execute a project to their specifications.
Finally, establish expectations related to remote work, both permanent and temporary, with your supervisor. Having resources in place for remote work from the beginning will help you transition if needed and ensure little work disruption.
Establish a work routine that ensures you are most productive and prepared. Talk to your supervisor about the best workflows for you and for your team. Check email first thing in the morning to ensure timely attention to high priority items, reserve time in the morning to tackle your hardest projects first, and schedule meetings in the late morning or early afternoon when your brain will be ready for a change of pace. Declutter your workstation so there are few distractions and silence your personal phone to ensure you stay away from distractions like social media.
Build relationships with your teammates.
Now that you have met your team, make an effort to schedule fifteen-minute meet and greet meetings with at least five colleagues per week. This will not only get you up to speed projects but will give you a sense of the strengths and resources within the organization. Set the goal of learning at least one non-work-related fact about each co-worker as well. Build upon the relationships to find common ground, establish who can be a resource, and strengthen open lines of communication.
Starting a new career in tech can be overwhelming, but by the first month in a new position you are likely in a routine and settling into the expectations (and personalities) associated with your job. Here are a few tips to keep you on track and thriving in the first month.
Ask for feedback.
Meet with your supervisor and ask for constructive criticism about your performance, communication, and the pace you are learning the company’s way of doing things. Review any points of confusion from your onboarding paperwork or HR handbook, and ask for specific and measurable goals you can achieve in your first 90 days. Be receptive to what you hear (even if it’s critical) and use the feedback as a starting place for your professional growth.
Find a mentor.
Now that you are familiar with your co-workers, direct your attention to those who can provide mentorship now and in the future. This may be your boss, the CEO, or someone in a more senior level role who was once in your position. Regardless, set a meeting with the individual to let them know your clear intention for guidance. Discuss their capacity to mentor, what you hope to learn, and why. Take initiative to schedule future meetings in which you will bring prepared questions and make the effort worth it by thanking and acknowledging the individual for sharing their valuable time.
You may be working late and saying ‘yes’ frequently in the first month of your new role, but don’t let it become a habit. Turn off your screens at the end of your workday, and don’t check or reply to emails in the late evening hours. Set a precedent with your team and yourself that you will honor your work time and your free time as a protective factor to avoid burnout. You will thank your future self for establishing a healthy work-life balance.
No matter how prepared you may be, careers in tech vary greatly. Where you land may be your dream job or the stepping-stone to a new and exciting career. No matter where you start, be yourself and give your best effort. The payoff may be everything you ever hoped for!
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