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10 tips on nailing the first 90 days on the job

You’ve finally landed ‘that’ job in a company that you see yourself growing with for many years.  You’re nervous.  You don’t know what to expect.  You are unsure how to act in this new environment.  And you have only three months to make an impression and get through probation.

Here are 10 rules to keep in mind during the first 90 days in a new position:

  1. Keep your mouth shut, and your ears open When starting in a new role, it’s a natural urge to demonstrate to your employers everything you know. Don’t. You could start your first day as the ‘new recruit’ and leave as a ‘know-it-all’.  This is the learning phase, so keep your lips sealed.
  2. Take note of everyone you meet Literally, write it down. Your first instincts are always the best, so once you are introduced to a new colleague – take note. Write down your initial gut feeling about that individual and also include profile information.
  3. Understand the hierarchy There are several hierarchies at play within an organisation. Get to know the formal and informal structures. Most offices will have a resident gossip, a high-achiever and a corporate climber. Understand how they work, who they know.
  4. Don’t talk about sex, religion or politics Your new boss does not need to know who you voted for in the last election, even if they ask. It is better to remain diplomatic at all times, even if you hold a strong opinion about certain topics (as we all do).
  5. Answer a question with a question As you are ‘new’, colleagues might try to pry into your life. Keep your answers succinct – or deflect the line of questioning right back at them.
  6. Keep the mystery Do not offer up any superfluous information about yourself during your first few months. Even small details, such as the names of your pets, should remain private. This is the time to learn about your new colleagues, not the other way around.
  7. Don’t over-connect Don’t rush in to adding your new colleagues on Facebook or Twitter. You see them in the office every day; remember that familiarity breeds contempt.
  8. Set goals Pick three things you want to achieve in that time and no more. Track your success – your wins and your losses. Keep this document updated at all times and bring it with you to your three-month review. Some companies renegotiate their employee’s salary once they have passed their probation; proving your worth may increase your pay.
  9. Keep a balance While it is tempting to impress your boss with overtime from day one, it will become an expectation. And once you’ve settled in and want to go back to a regular eight-hour day, you’ll look as though you’re slacking off. Keep a sustainable work-life balance from the start.
  10. Keep an ace up your sleeve If you have a skill or talent that could add value to the company, don’t release it until you find the right time and place, like when presenting to the board. You want to make the biggest impact with the right people during this timeframe, and your managers will see you as the gift that keeps on giving.
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