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Things You Should Always Do in the First Month at a New Job

Two people shaking hands.

Starting a new job can elicit a range of emotions: excitement, anxiety, hope. But regardless of how you’re feeling leading up to your first day, you want to be sure that you launch your new career with a plan in mind for how you’ll make an impact and a great first impression.

If you’d like to map out your first days and weeks at a new job, but you’re not quite sure where to begin, here are our must-dos:

Ask questions

While you may be worried about coming across as unknowledgeable, asking questions on the job can actually help to make a good first impression by signaling to your manager that you’re curious and eager to learn. Asking the right questions can help show your new supervisor that you’re:

  • Engaged and thinking through implementation of a new project or responsibility. This is the dream for most bosses. Not only are you paying attention, but you’re actually thinking through the "how?" and "what?" of an ask.
  • Not afraid to dig deeper and admit knowledge gaps. Admitting something is unclear or opaque is fine. Managers fall into convenient jargon that you may not have. Just be sure to press pause on the conversation, so you’re not totally lost.
  • Committed to getting the work done right. Clarity is key. Having all of the information you need is the key to success. Even if it means going back once or twice more to get everything you need.

Pro-tip: While you should feel comfortable asking questions, you can also demonstrate your understanding of the organizational chart by directing questions to the appropriate member of the team. Have a question about health benefits or vacation policies? Ask human resources. Have a question about organizational priorities in the next three months? Start with your boss. Make sure you don’t inadvertently jump the line and ruffle feathers by going to the executive director first.

Getting to know your boss is key

There’s an old saying that no one quits their job, they quit their boss. And while the interview process can be helpful in getting to know the basics of organizational culture, you generally won’t have much sense of how your boss operates until you start the job.

So, in order to hit the ground running, consider doing the following:

Get to know your boss as a boss

Pay attention to preferred communication and management styles. Do they prefer to connect via email, phone, text, or face-to-face conversations? Do they give broad stroke missives or tend to send you a detailed work plan for upcoming projects? Are they hyper responsive or slow to circle back? These are important clues as to how your boss communicates and manages workflows.

If their communication and management style aren't complementary to yours, be sure to advocate for what you need. Need more tools? Review our How-to-Guide on managing up or our Four Essential Tips for Managing Up.

Get to know your boss as a person

Proactively schedule a one-on-one coffee or lunch with your boss within the first month. Give yourself 45 minutes to an hour if possible. This will give you an opportunity to get out of the office and connect on a more personal level. Start by suggesting a coffee or lunch during a slow week and see if they will give you access to their calendar so you can take care of the scheduling.

During your coffee appointment, ask noninvasive, open-ended questions about their life outside of work. This will help build rapport and can facilitate seeing each other as regular human beings. Summer plans, music interests, hobbies, and weekend favorites are easy conversation starters. Conversely, be mindful that you don’t steer the conversation into more contentious or personally fraught topics like politics, family, or religion.

This strategy can be a bit more challenging if you’re a remote worker, but you can still find some useful tips in our other resources. Check out our tips on relationship building specifically for remote employees to keep you connected to your team.

Starting a new job should be the easy part

Starting a new position should be exciting and energizing. Doing these things will set you up to thrive in your new role. Need more? Check out our comprehensive first 100 days guide.

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About the Author | Sarah Goff has nearly fifteen years of experience working in NYC’s public sector in what can only be described as an elegantly haphazard career path. She geeks out on politics and social policy and is deeply passionate about the the social sector. She has participated in numerous public sector fellowship programs and has her M.S. in Public Policy from The New School.

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