How to Make the Most of a New Job

Human Resources Associations Now March/April 2015

Career advice from Carol Vernon, certified executive coach and principal of Communication Matters, about how to get started on the right foot at a new job.

Associations Now: What makes the first few months of a new job so important?

Vernon: First of all, this beginning time presents opportunities and challenges for both the employee and the employer. In fact, studies show that new hires, at all levels, are most vulnerable during this period, but they're also more receptive to establishing new patterns of behavior for long-term job success.

What should new employees do during this time?

They should learn all they can about their new employer by noting what is being said as well as what is left unsaid during the onboarding process. New employees need to determine how they want to be perceived by their peers, direct reports, and supervisors. In other words, they need to be clear about their brand and ensure that they are walking and talking it every day.

They also need to figure out who they need to know inside and outside the organization; understand how people communicate, formally and informally; and clearly identify what success looks like and understand how it will be measured.

What role do employers play?

An important one. They need to clarify expectations about the hard and soft skills needed for success. New hires need different types of support from employers depending on what they've been hired to do, where they come from, and what success looks like at the time of the hire. Ideally, employers should take a proactive approach by determining what their new hires need and provide them with the appropriate tools to build their skill set.

Any other tips for new hires?

Work with your new supervisor to agree on a concrete plan of action for the first 100 days. After the first 30 days, revisit these goals to determine how things are going.

[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Get Started on the Right Foot."]