Your Guide to ... The First 100 Days at a New Job

Starting a new job can be overwhelming. Between meeting new colleagues, mastering new skills, and tackling new responsibilities, your first three months might leave you feeling exhausted and burned out. To help alleviate some of that stress, we’ve put together a First 100 Days plan that will help you avoid rookie mistakes, impress your boss, and endear yourself to your colleagues. So print out the plan below, set up some auto-reminders, and hit the ground running!

Before you start

  • Review all of the research you did on the organization when you applied. Re-read staff bios, the organization’s website, and notes you took during your interview.

Day one

  • Today is all about absorbing as much information as you can, so stick to a 90/10 rule. Make it your goal to listen 90% of the time, and talk 10% of the time. (Pro-tip: most of your 10% should be asking questions!)
  • Take notes. The amount of new information you’ll be receiving makes it nearly impossible to remember everything. Important things to jot down include co-workers’ names, job titles, and something memorable about your interaction with them; information about the organization that you won’t be able to find in documentation later on; and little nuggets of wisdom you might receive from new colleagues. Don’t worry about capturing everything. Much of what you hear on the first day will be reinforced once you begin your job responsibilities, or will be documented in a staff manual.
  • Take care of your environment. Depending on your job, this might mean getting your computer set up (installing software, bookmarking important websites, saving your usernames and passwords), making sure you have your office supplies and furniture, or getting the right uniform or tools.
  • After work: Reward yourself on a successful first day by taking a real break and doing something fun or relaxing!

The first week

  • Ask your manager to set up getting-to-know-you meetings with people who know your work area well or have specific institutional knowledge to share. (Pro-tip: Ask others what they think your job entails. You can learn a lot about others’ expectations of you this way!)
  • Practice humility. Chances are your boss didn’t hire you to “fix” everything; she hired you because she believes your skills and experience can have a positive impact if you integrate yourself well. Come with a fresh perspective, but be quick to deliver a compliment or acknowledge what’s working. A good rule of thumb is to avoid talking about your most recent job as much as possible (e.g. “Well, this is how we did it at…”)
  • After work: Send thank you notes to people who helped you land the job. Return the favor by sharing a link to an interesting article or event announcement.

The first month

  • Study up on your new home away from home. Read your organization’s newsletters, websites, social media, annual reports, anything you can find. You may also want to set up Google alerts about your organization in order to stay current.
  • Have a frank discussion with your manager about any unwritten rules or standards. You can also seek clarification on performance metrics and expectations.
  • After work: Update your social networking profiles. Let everyone know about your new job, and any new ways you might want to connect with them.

The second month

  • Now that you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt, start taking responsibility for your own professional development. Subscribe to relevant blogs, join a professional association or Meetup, and identify trainings or books you need.
  • Do a favor for someone in your organization. Big or small, it doesn’t matter. If you’re paying attention to others, you should be able to recognize an opportunity to make someone’s day. Not only will you get the immediate satisfaction of helping someone out, but your colleague will remember it later.
  • Seek out a mentor within the organization. Having a mentor (or several) can improve your job performance, grow your network, and even help you advance more quickly within your organization.

The third month

  • Improve a process. By this point you’ve learned a thing or two about the inner workings of your organization, and it’s time to take advantage of your fresh perspective and prior experience. Have you noticed a task you have to do over and over again? Perhaps you can automate it. Is there a particular workflow you’ve found difficult to master? Maybe it could be made more intuitive. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it doesn’t impede anyone else’s work, and be sure to let your manager know about the change you made. She’ll be impressed!
  • Investigate something outside of your job responsibilities. Now that you’ve begun to shine in your particular role, it’s time to broaden your horizons. Chat up a colleague at lunch about a new project he’s working on, or wander over to a different department during your coffee break. The more you know about what’s going on outside of your immediate responsibilities, the more likely it is you’ll be able to make valuable connections across the organization.
  • Request a three-month review with your manager. Prepare for it by jotting down notes about your accomplishments to date, and any new challenges you’d like to take on. Ask questions about how you’re doing and be ready to accept your manager’s feedback.

Explore Jobs on Idealist