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How to Navigate the First 90 Days of a New Job

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Nov 16, 2022

How to Navigate the First 90 Days of a New Job

Dave Fano

You landed that awesome job opportunity! Now what? Make sure you're doing everything you can to make your first few months run smoothly.

The first 90 days in a new role is probably one of the most important times when you start a new position to make sure that you make the right impressions. Using Teal’s approach and how we think about it, the main intention is for you to learn strategies to support you in your new role during your first 90 days. We will cover everything you need to know using the following agenda:

Approach

The first 90 days starting a new position is a conceptual idea. No one is really keeping track of 90 days on the dot, but more of an idea of three months, or 30, 60, 90 days. It's this idea that in the first 90 days you'll know whether you like it and if they like you, but it's a concept and not a literal thing. 

Really what you’re looking for is what we would call mutual acceptance. We think about the first 90 days starting from the day you sign your offer letter to the date of mutual exhale that you both feel on the same page about your part in the company and that hiring you was the right move. 

The day you sign your offer is when they are going to start to evaluate if they made the right decision. 

Research shows that what you do early on in a job matters a ton. It's when companies are evaluating you, you're making those first impressions, your manager is deciding whether they've made the right hire, not the right hire. It's really important that you make these great impressions in these first 90 days because it's going to set you up for success for the roles that you're going to go forward on.

Those first 90 days can be quite instrumental in how you grow in this new organization, and it's important that in this first time you think about having a growth mindset. You want to come in with a willingness to learn, and you want to be excited. Understand that things are done differently at different companies for a reason, and that opens an opportunity for you to be genuinely inquisitive and learn. 

These first 90 days in our approach is really about learning and then adding value.

Before Your Start

You just signed your offer and you’re feeling good, but there are things that can be done in the time before you start to set yourself up for success for the first day that you get there. 

Before you start, you want to start to build on your research. You did a ton of research to land the offer and ultimately secure the job. You did your research for interviewing, you did your research for compensation, you did your research on the company, and now you want to continue to build on that.

Now that you are going to go work at this company, take all that research and take it to the next level.

You want to start to really understand the company. Once you get there and people see that you did the work, they’re going to be excited to have you on the team. One level down to research is the department, which might have been a little hard to get on the outside, but now that you’re on the inside, or at least you’ve accepted the offer, you can start to get this information. Then think about your team.

Now that you are employed by this company, add it to your Company Tracker. You can keep track of all important information and organization research.

(Keep track of companies using Teal’s Company Tracker)
(Keep track of companies using Teal’s Company Tracker)

Now start to build up this research. You have much more information and you can see where you have open questions. You can be genuinely inquisitive. 

Go back to your job description and ask a little bit tougher questions. You can see which things in the JD really matter, which are kind of like high level general expectations, and you can ask people very poignant questions around. 

Now that you've gone through the process and you've seen all the interviews, you probably have a better understanding of what really matters to the company, what are long term ambitions from the role, and what are short term ambitions. Part of what you're going to want to do is get those wins, so understand what really matters to the company. 

Something you can do that we highly recommend is to contact your new manager in advance. You know, some companies may be a little funny about this because technically you're on the clock before you start working and it could potentially raise some risk for compensation and paying you. So some companies may encourage you not to do this, but if you want to be a go-getter, you want to get this done. 

You want to  make a good impression and build that rapport with your manager. We highly recommend that you do this. Here is a template that you can use to connect with your manager. 

Ask your new manager if there are things that you can do before starting. Show that you’re ambitious.

We suggest you do a few things to prepare for your new job. 

The Personal User Manual is a great way to document how you like to work. Creating this is optional, but it is a fun way to share your work style and individual preferences for how you like to collaborate, make decisions, problem solve, and communicate. Here is an example: 

Then there's a 30, 60, 90 day plan to start thinking about.  We have a template for you. 

Your company may provide you some sort of plan as part of your onboarding process, but they might not. If you don’t get one for your new job, we recommend creating one as it will set you up for success in your first 90 days. 

That's some of the things that you can do to prepare in advance of starting your new role. 

First 90 Days

Let’s talk about the actual first 90 days of starting your new position. 

Remember, you want to have the growth mindset to learn, learn, learn. It is very important that the people you work with understand that you are there to genuinely learn. You want to absorb information before you are quick to start to propose ideas and solutions. Understand the company, understand the problems that they are solving, understand how they serve their customers, and understand how they arrived at their current solution. 

We are at a time in the world where a lot of people are working from home. If this is your case, your onboarding will probably occur remotely. Doing this process virtually is going to ask a little bit more of you, and you’re going to be a little bit more prepared. 

A lot of companies don't have formal processes for onboarding people remotely. They're figuring it out as they go, so be patient and understand that everyone is working through it.

A big part of working remotely is doing that work and understanding who in the company you want to connect with, who is the person that's going to help take your career to the next level. Then engage with them.

It is important that you learn office politics and understand how they work. 

  • Work Hours: What is the typical work schedule that most people in the office work?
  • Dress Code: What is considered appropriate attire?
  • Time Off: What is the vacation and/or sick leave policy? Does the organization provide comp or flex time?
  • Working Remotely: Can you work from home? Is it expected that you do so after hours?
  • Lunch: What amount of time can you allot for lunch?
  • Professional Development: Can you attend conferences or be involved in professional associations during work time? 

Here are some questions that you can ask that will help you during onboarding:

  • What should I focus on this week?
  • Who are a few people I should try and meet this week in the department or company?
  • What do you wish you knew when you started?
  • How do people communicate in the office?
  • What are the key projects I should be aware of at the moment?
  • How can I help?

Whether onboarding in person or remotely, start off strong in your role and make those connections. Reach out to coworkers, offer assistance, prove you’ve done your research, and show your excitement to help grow the company.

(Use the communication templates within Teal’s Job Tracker to connect with coworkers)
(Use the communication templates within Teal’s Job Tracker to connect with coworkers)

You want to build advocacy in these first 90 days. Build these people that are rooting for you in your corner that want to see you succeed. Continue to offer your help because their success will be your success. 

Another thing to do in your first 90 days is to get to know people. 

Then you’re going to want to map out the relationships, and there are four primary categories of relationships. 

There's obviously going to be a lot more than four relationships, but you want to start to map these out and understand them for yourself. 

To help build both work and personal relationships, you can ask certain questions. 

If you think about work styles here, the ones and fours are going to want to have more of those work based conversations, and the twos and threes are going to have a bit more of those personal questions and connect on a personal level. 

More on building relationships:

  • Set up 1:1s to get to know each other (virtual coffee chats)
  • Attend events & engage with colleagues
  • Participate in company discussions
  • Learn where people “hangout” (Slack, email, text)
  • Listen to others and ask good questions
  • Learn the culture & what shapes it 

Again, leverage your work styles. It’s a great way to build rapport. If you can systematically build empathy and understand others, you can speak to them and treat them the way they want to be treated and spoken to. We really recommend that you make that effort. 

(Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s free career personality assessment)
(Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s free career personality assessment)

Once you’ve done that work, build out that org chart and try to understand the style of your manager, the style of your peers, and the style of the stakeholders. Here is an example of what that can look like:

Doing this can be very helpful in building rapport and how you’d adapt your way of working to build those connections. 

There's a few things about the first 90 days that allow you to do things that maybe you can't do beyond the first 90 days.

  • You have permissions to ask a lot of questions
  • You can introduce yourself and learn from just about anyone in your organization
  • You have “fresh eyes” and bring a new perspective 
  • You can take initiative on projects once you have a full view on the priorities and needs

Here’s a template outlining a way to ask for help:

Try to get feedback and you can start to build that culture of being a person that likes feedback. So early on, you want to get that from your manager. The company may or may not have a feedback cycle, but you can set the tone for how you want to grow in these first 90 days.

With your manager, you can ask to get feedback after a week, two weeks, a month. Review it, understand the priorities, understand what's going on in the team and then make your adjustments. Try to get on that cycle. You know, your manager may do one-on-ones on a weekly basis, biweekly, monthly, you know, that's going to change, but don't let your growth be contingent on whether that happens or not. Take a proactive role in setting up this feedback cycle so you can be a meaningful contributor in our career.

Those are some things that you can do in the first 90 days. That feedback is very, very important, so that you have a good sense of how you are blending in, what kind of work they expect you to do, and then what your growth potential can be at this new company.

Personal Brand

Let's talk a little bit about your personal brand to land this job. You just did a ton of work to update your resume and get LinkedIn in a good place. The worst thing you could do is just stop tending to that. There's some things we want to call out that you should do, especially about announcing your new position.

You want to go ahead and update your primary resume. Don't wait until the last minute to do this. Go ahead, clean up, you know, anything that, any changes you might have made along the way, keep this document tidy. We recommend that you do it once a month. Go ahead. Log those achievements, update your blurb.

You could use that blurb for introductions internally and externally. Go ahead and update your primary resume and your LinkedIn. This is a great opportunity to let the world know that you've made this change. That might have great implications for your job. 

You can decide when to update your work status on LinkedIn. Some people like to do it before the role starts. Some people like to do it once they're there just in case anything gets weird. Some people like to do it after the first 90 days. You know, just to make sure that they can vet it out and maintain optionality. Figure out the right time for you, but we highly recommend that you do it. Update your headline, update your skills, update the company, make sure it's all there. Then it will help your colleagues find you, and it's a good moment to talk about your successes.

Something that goes overlooked and that we highly recommend that you do is to thank everybody that helped you get there. Once you land the job, you get so focused on the job and being successful, that you forget about all the people that helped you along the way.

If someone made an introduction, someone gave you an informational interview, you want to go ahead and send those people an update. Let them know you got the job, that you started, that you are so thankful for all their help, and that you’ll keep them updated on your growth. People really appreciate that. When you help someone, the most rewarding part is knowing that it was helpful.

You also want to tend to your network and maintain that networking. Don't just stop because you landed the job. You might need that network in the future. You want to tend to yourself and your personal brand and your network, because you never know when you're going to need it.

Career Growth

Part of the reason you made this switch is for career growth. You're in this new role, it's going to enable you to do a lot of things, and we want to make sure that you hold yourself accountable to that growth. 

The best way to do that is to set goals because what gets measured gets managed. Keep yourself accountable by setting goals with intentions that are meaningful and strategic. 

For goal setting, the framework we recommend is the SMART goal. It's specific. Don't leave it open ended. It's measurable because you want to know if you actually achieved it or not. It's attainable. We recommend that you stretch yourself. Don't just try to set a goal that you know you can hit, but also don't do something ridiculous that you won't hit because then you'll get discouraged. Make sure it's relevant, that it's moving you in the right direction. Set an achievement date for your goal. 

This is the way you want to go about setting these goals, and it's going to look a lot like a resume achievement. There will be a lot of similarities there. 

You can also think about the range of goals. 

Be aware of the context in which you're setting your goals and then also for yourself at the pace you want to go. 

One thing you can do is think about future achievements. That's what a goal is. When you achieve that goal, that is a future achievement. You’re going to need the most relevant achievements on your resume.

That is how you prove that you have the abilities that a company wants to hire you for. More often than not, you will search for a job againso you will want to create goals written as future achievements. Teal’s free Resume Builder can help you keep your Work History up to date and help you write metric-driven achievements using our Achievement Assistant tool.

(Teal’s free Resume Builder helps you write metric driven achievements)
(Teal’s free Resume Builder helps you write metric driven achievements)

Try to continue to focus on yourself and carve out that time to focus on your career growth. If you were doing things to build your professional identity and professional brand throughout the job search, maintain it. If you were posting on social media or blogging, keep doing it. If you were networking and connecting with people, continue that. If you were hosting or conducting informational interviews, try to do a few. 

Give yourself one month, but try to keep that growth going. Don't just wait for the company to have a career development plan and help you do it. Do those things where you are in control and you are managing your career growth. Block out that time because that's ultimately what you have to do. We strongly believe that your career growth is in your hands.

Wrap Up

These are all things you should do during the first 90 days in a new role. Honestly, the job search isn’t done until you’ve reached that moment of mutual acceptance. 

We really think the first 90 days are part of that surge process and for you to really be invested and excited about the role, and for the company to be invested and excited about you.

You really want to put in this time and energy. Don't let your guard down. Once you've signed that offer letter, you really need to show up, and you need to keep putting in that same kind of effort to set you up for growth. 

All right, so we'll wrap up here. This is the first 90 days. We think it's super important. Do the work in the first 90 days. It will pay off, and you'll see it really help propel your career.

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Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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