The Secret to Crushing Your First 90 Days at a New Job

You sent countless resumes, fielded recruiter phone calls, passed the interview process and landed a killer new job. Now, you’re ready to get started.

Your first 90 days on the job is a crucial time to show your new boss your value. It’s also about meeting new people, asking a lot of questions and taking time to understand the big picture. Whether you’re starting at entry level or you’ve already gained some real-world experience in the workplace, here are some tips for making the most out of your 90-day probationary period.

Show up on time.

This seems obvious, but you’d be shocked at how many new employees either call in sick or turn up late within a month of starting a new position. While some employers will just issue a verbal warning, plenty of companies have a strict 90-day “no call-ins/tardy” policy that could leave you searching for a new job if you break it.

What to do if you’re legitimately sick or have an emergency during your first 90 days:

  • If you have a minor illness, show up to work (or training) and immediately inform your supervisor of the situation. They may choose to send you home, but either way, they’ll appreciate your effort to keep your commitment.
  • For a more serious medical situation, call your supervisor or have a family member call them if you are unable. Making the effort to communicate won’t necessarily “fix” the situation if a callout policy is set in stone, but your boss may be able to work with you.
  • If you have a family emergency, immediately call your supervisor to notify them and see what steps you could take to make up for any absence.

Set goals.

Many people start a new position with a single mind toward learning the “what” and “how” of the job’s everyday tasks. How do I make the spreadsheet? What do I do after the customer calls? How do I log daily activities? Getting your basic duties down pat is a great start, but don’t stop there.

Make a list of the top goals you would like to accomplish each week. They can be as simple as memorizing a call script or processing an order by yourself, but they should be tangible, trackable goals that align with your supervisor’s expectations.

Build relationships.

Your first 90 days at a new company offer a great opportunity to connect with your new coworkers. Why is that so important? You’ll likely be spending more time together with them than your friends or family.

Building strong relationships will not only help you succeed in your new position, it might actually make you happier. Research shows that employees are 50% more satisfied with their job when they develop close bonds with coworkers. Forging a strong connection with the people around you can also help your team be more productive.

When you work well with a team, you’re more likely to be highly productive and invested in the team’s success. Not to mention it’s a lot more fun.

You only get one chance to make a positive impression on each person you meet. That’s why it’s so crucial to focus on relationship-building when you start your new job.

  • Make an effort to connect with your coworkers
  • Learn names and roles within the company
  • Don’t talk negatively about your last job
  • Show genuine interest in others (without getting too personal)

Listen and learn.

One of the first skills you’ll need to hone at your new job is listening. Not only are you responsible for learning everyone’s name and position (in your department and beyond), it’s also important to understand each person’s role and where it fits in your team.

Pay attention to company culture and what’s expected, as well as the daily ins-and-outs of your daily tasks. This is a great time to seek out potential mentors and to ask questions about your department and the organization as a whole.

Consider asking a coworker out to lunch or coffee during your first 90 days; choose someone you’d like to learn from. Take this time to ask about their career path and what skills and abilities they think would be most useful in your new role.

Don’t forget the basics.

If you’re new to a company, or if this is your first full-time career, there are some basic steps you’ll need to take during your 90 days. You may start by completing training classes, sitting with a mentor, or just jumping into your new tasks.

While every company has a different “onboarding” procedure, most full-time employees will receive a reminder to sign up for employee benefits sometime during your first three months on the job. Here’s a quick look at some of the administrative things you might be prompted to do:

  • Sign up for health insurance. Don’t know the difference between a PPO, an HMO and a HDHP? Read up on Employer-Offered Health Insurance.
  • Enroll in a 401(k) plan. Some employers don’t allow you to enroll in a retirement plan until you’re with the company for a year. With others, it’s just 90 days. A 401(k) lets you put pre-tax dollars away toward your Golden Years, and saving early could mean hundreds of thousands of extra dollars in your retirement fund!
  • Complete your 90-day review. Many companies do a quick 90-day performance review or self-appraisal to gauge where you’re at. Be honest, and check in with your manager regularly beforehand to make sure you’re on track to do well.

There’s a lot to accomplish in your first 90 days at a new job, but don’t worry — you’ve got this! By following our tips, you’ll set yourself up for success as you transition into your new role. Stay focused on your goals and don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers or boss for help along the way.

Remember, you impressed your new company enough to hire you. So just work through the tip list, relax, breathe… and don’t sweat the small stuff!

The material presented here is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be used as financial, investment, or legal advice.