July / August 2018

New Job Success Strategies

David G. Smith

I finally landed a great job. How can I get started on the right foot?

Congratulations on accepting a new position! Your first days in your new role will go a long way to shaping your career with the new organization. Here are some ideas for a successful transition.


Do your homework. Complete any required forms and find the required documents before day one. Review the benefits summaries and other information so you can ask questions during orientation.

Revisit the job description and your interview notes, including position responsibilities and interview key points. Prepare a checklist of key learning areas to prioritize for your specific job function and the organization. Bring a portfolio so you can keep your checklists, agenda, and other items organized and handy.

Plan how you will present yourself on your first day. Get a good night’s sleep so you can start your first day refreshed and ready. Plan for a little extra commuting time. Make sure you review any dress code (especially for manufacturing-related roles).


A formal new employee orientation (NEO) for new hires can provide a consistent new-hire experience and key information about employment with the company. If your new organization offers an NEO, you’ll receive an agenda and a list of items you will need to bring with you on your first day.

In addition to the usual paperwork related to benefits enrollment, tax forms, proof of work authorization, and company compliance documents, you’ll set up your phone and computer to access required systems and information. Capture the names and contact information that you may need to follow up with later.

Get a tour of the facility and orient yourself with the major department locations, including those you will work with and key support functions such as IT, fi nance, and HR. Also ask to see areas for lunch, company amenities, and parking.


Take ownership of your development and establish how you will work with your new team. Here are some focus areas:

Understand the business. It is critical to thoroughly understand the company’s products and/or services, goals, and structure. This will help you learn the interdependencies and value of your responsibilities, which should help you communicate with key stakeholders and prioritize your work.

Learn how to work with your boss. Make sure you understand your boss’s communication preferences (in person, phone, IM, and emails). Establish what you need to report or inform about and how often. Communicate what you need, your best learning methods, where you would like to develop your skills and contributions, and your own communication style.

Learn and train. Look for learning that fits your personal learning style: For visual learners, seeing an activity firsthand is best, audio learners might learn best in a classroom, and others may gain the most from reading. Be sure to take breaks from learning activities and vary your day to ensure you stay fresh and attentive.

Seek understanding before you suggest change. Process improvements are always a goal, and as a new employee, you will be eager to make a quick impact. Take time to understand before you suggest or act. Credibility is based on knowledge and trust, so be sure to see the larger picture, ask questions, and solicit stakeholder feedback.

Build relationships with your team. Good relationships are essential. Learn how your team communicates, and determine their interests and strengths. Understand how your role intersects with the rest of the team and how others depend on your work. Establish credibility by meeting deadlines, keeping your commitments, and seeking feedback to ensure you are delivering what is needed. You probably will ask a great deal from others during your early days, so look for ways to reciprocate.

Immerse yourself in the company culture. Your manager will likely review and provide expectations related to the company culture as part of your performance plan, and you will need to look for ways to adopt them into your daily interactions.

Seek balance. The urgency of getting up to speed and the burden of performing in your new role can take a toll if you’re not careful. Get proper sleep, exercise, and fulfill non-work priorities—these are key to keeping motivated and engaged. Many companies provide on-site wellness programs and other benefits that can help. While you will learn best practices and become more efficient over time, make sure you are reviewing your workload with your manager and request help before you find yourself in a pinch.

Congratulations on the new opportunity, and I wish you the best of luck.

Do you have other career questions? Feel free to email me at