How to have an impact in a new job: Making the most of your first few months

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With key insights and advice from a range of career, recruitment and business experts, here are some things to help you hit the ground running when you start your new job.

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A new job can present all manner of challenges, whether it’s an executive role or senior management position you’re moving into. There’ll be new people to get to know, an environment to settle into and a host of new responsibilities required of you. However, there’s also plenty of opportunity to really impress both your team and the rest of the office, even from the get-go.

The first few months of your new job are very important, a period where you can positively influence your colleagues’ opinions of you, demonstrate a strong work ethic and establish who the key members of staff are, all while representing your new employer internally and externally. With key insights and advice from a range of career, recruitment and business experts, here are some things to help you hit the ground running when you start your new job.

Seek to maximise productivity

“There are many things you can do to ensure you make an impact on a new job,” says Safiyya Abdulla, career and performance coach at Bethink Coaching. “Firstly, you need to ensure that you are working to your maximum productivity. This doesn’t necessarily mean working the longest hours, but it means working to the highest impact. Taking regular short breaks to ensure your productivity doesn’t dip will help here.”

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If you’re confident about your own productivity, start looking at ways to bring this approach to the wider business to make an immediate impact in your new role. On this, Safiyya suggests: “Make sure you are performing above and beyond expectations. When completing a task, ask yourself what is the best way this can be achieved? What could make this system even better?

“Managers and businesses want to make money through efficient systems; if you can help them to achieve that, you’re already a few steps ahead of the average employee.”

These sentiments are echoed by John Lees, career expert at John Lees Careers, who recommends a similarly inquisitive approach: “What is the biggest impact you can achieve in the shortest time with the minimum effort and resources? What gets in the way of productivity? What can be resolved quickly and cheaply? When you’ve figured this out, negotiate permission to implement two or three changes which are low on cost and high on imagination, but be sure to follow up and don’t allow yourself to become a one-hit wonder.”

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Join a mentoring scheme

If you’re looking for a formal approach to making an impact, then Ed Johnson, CEO and co-founder of PushFar, mentions participating in a mentoring scheme: “A lot of organisations are waking up to the importance of mentoring and have implemented mentoring programmes and schemes for employees. If the organisation you are joining does offer mentoring, then make sure you take full advantage of it. Mentoring can dramatically help you at every stage in your career, but particularly as a new joiner.”

Mentoring schemes enable you to quickly learn about company culture, unwritten rules and processes, and serve to provide support if you’re in need of things you feel you may already be expected to know.

“Mentoring is a fantastic way to navigate your way through a new job,” says Ed, adding, “equally, as a new joiner, you might want to consider mentoring someone else in the organisation, too. While this might seem counterintuitive, there are likely to be historic processes in place and ‘working ways’ in which organisations are run where a fresh pair of eyes might be a considerable help.”

Preparation is key

You’ll have done some preparation and research on the company for your interview, but even after getting the job, there’s still much to learn about where you’ll be working. Use your time wisely in the first few months to really get the lay of the land, office-wise.

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On this, John suggests: “Spend time absorbing the language of the organisation, and pin down the major problems and opportunities facing the business to give you vital clues about how to be successful.

“Take the time to work out the names and job titles of the people that really matter and who may make decisions about your future. Spot the people who can make your job easier, or who can make it hell, though don’t inadvertently make enemies. Seek out the information brokers – the people who know how the machine works, but also identify future work partners, especially key people in HR, IT and finance.”

As well as helping with the onboarding process, the proper preparation can help you settle into the role at pace. Dale Williams, founder and Managing Director of Yolk Recruitment, says: “Make the most of the first few days in your new career by coming to work not only prepared with the usual suspects such as ID and your P45, but also with knowledge. Doing your research on the company and relevant industry news will ensure you hit the ground running. Looking back at your interview prep can be a good place to start.”

Listen and learn

The first few months of a new job will be a learning curve, so it’s important that you approach things in the right way. Make an effort to listen attentively, ask questions and take on board what’s being said.

Team work as colleagues group together in office

“During your first few weeks spend as much time as you can listening to what’s going on around you,” says Dale. “Not only will you learn a huge amount, you’ll demonstrate your curiosity and desire to learn – an added positive that the right people will take note of.”

Likewise, questions are appreciated more than you realise, as Dale explains: “Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re unsure or need help. No one expects you to know everything during your first week. It’s always better to ask when you’re stumped than complete a task incorrectly, and more often than not you’ll learn more than you expect.”

Alan Price, Chief Operations Officer at Peninsula, is also a proponent of making the requisite queries, saying: “It’s best to think proactively and be confident enough to ask questions. Having someone who doesn’t understand what the role entails or what they should be doing can see a big reduction in productivity. Even looking like you’re not in control of your duties can make a bad first impression that’s hard to recover from.”

On a similar note, Danny Brooks, CEO of VHR, adds: “Meet as many people as you can across different teams, departments and seniorities to build up a comprehensive picture of the challenges, projects, ideas and opportunities that the organisation is currently experiencing.

Young woman crosses hands as male colleague sits behind her looking stern

“With so many people making up the office, every individual employee will each have their own unique perspective of the business, and there’s plenty of invaluable insight from staff across the company on the areas where you as an employee can make a difference. Proactively seek out colleagues and teams you can partner with on business-critical projects and make a positive impact on the business as soon as possible.”

Last minute tips

Before you step into your new role, take heed of these final pointers from our experts; they could make all the difference.

Dale offers this advice: “The most important thing I always tell candidates is to be positive; showing your enthusiasm about your new job to your team and peers goes a long way – as does a smile! Punctuality shows you are committed to your new position, so don’t turn up late or sneak off early. Arriving a little early and leaving a little late can also help establish your dedication to the role in the first few weeks.”

Finally, Danny notes that though there is an inherent challenge in starting a new job, it shouldn’t deter you: “No matter how daunting it first appears, success is much closer than you think, and hard work and determination are the most important components.”

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