14 Proven Strategies Every New Hire Should Follow to Thrive From Day One

When you first start a new job, just getting into the swing of things can often feel like a huge accomplishment. In truth, though, your goal should always be to figure out how to succeed as quickly as possible.

Although every workplace has its own culture and its own markers for success, there are a few universal steps that can be taken to get ahead, regardless of whether it’s your first job, a new position, or you are making a career change and starting a whole new career path.

Here are expert tips on how to succeed when starting a new job and what to avoid. 

1. Define What Success Means

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Perhaps the most important step that you’ll take on your way to the top is defining exactly what it means to be successful.

At a bare minimum, you need to define what success means to you. You need to know what milestones you want to hit and when, as well as what it looks like when you’ve reached all of your major career goals.

However, you also need to know what your new employer thinks job success looks like. Is success based on longevity, promotions, or simply on raw numbers? Is it the amount of time you put in, the number of sales you make, or your customer service rating?

You need to understand how those in charge think so that you can align your goals with the qualities they consider the most important. Your job description, the research you did during your initial job search, and the sort of interview questions you were asked during the hiring process should give you some idea of these qualities.

The meeting place of these two sets of expectations is where your greatest levels of success can be gained.

2. Make a Good First Impression

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One thing you can never take back is your first impression. No matter how hard you work to distinguish yourself, the way you introduce yourself and interact with others during your first few months of work will continue to define you. It is vital that you get started on the right foot and ensure that you make a great first impression.

The best way to set yourself up for success is to hit the ground running right away on day one.

Show up a little bit early on your first day with your paperwork and payroll forms filled out, wear the appropriate professional attire, and be ready to work. Try not to let your new job jitters get the best of you.

Pay attention during your new employee orientation and ask questions.

Show your new employer and coworkers that you’re there to do your job, but not in a way that makes you a threat to their own success. You’re there to be an important team player and make the lives of all involved a little bit better.

3. Get to Know Your Co-Workers

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There’s no rule that says you have to be friends with your co-workers. In fact, it’s often a good idea to keep your professional and personal relationships separate—both for your career and for your own sanity.

With that said, you can’t be the kind of person who ignores everyone else in the office, either. Ignoring or not engaging with others, even those in different departments, is a big red flag that you’re not the right fit.

You need to be friendly to get to know and connect with your coworkers so that it’s easier to do the job successfully.

When meeting new people at work, start by introducing yourself and tell them a little bit about yourself. A less formal variation of your elevator pitch is a good example of what to say. Asking questions about your coworker’s experience and qualifications will also help you make a good impression (because people love to talk about themselves).

Don’t be afraid to eat lunch with the people you work with, go to office functions, or make small talk, especially during your first weeks. While you won’t necessarily invite all of these people to your next birthday party, you should at least be the kind of person who is asked to sign office birthday cards and participate in important events. Making an effort can really go a long way.

The faster you can go from just being a new hire to being someone on the team, the better.

4. Talk to Your Boss

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There’s also something to be said for being on good terms with your boss.

Again, this isn’t a situation where you’re trying to be best friends with your immediate supervisor. Not only is this unnecessary, but it can cause a significant amount of resentment from your coworkers.

Instead, this is a step that’s necessary for new hires who understand that their supervisors are the ones who will eventually recommend them for promotions or new opportunities. To get to that point, though, your boss needs to know who you are and what you bring to the team.

This is easily done in a new work environment where your boss is accessible and has an open-door policy. If your boss wants you to come by if you have any questions or concerns, make sure that you do so. Don’t consistently walk in with problems, though—the last thing you want is to be known as a bearer of bad news or a chronic complainer.

If your boss isn’t as accessible or doesn’t work at the same location as you do, for example, you will need to make the extra effort to impress them and stay on their radar. Ask your new boss how they would like you to communicate with them and keep them in the loop. Do they want you to send them a daily or weekly report? Do they want to be cc’d on every important email? Will there be regularly scheduled meetings to check in?

No matter the situation, you need to take the time to make sure that your boss remembers who you are and what you do for the business if you want to succeed.

5. Be On Time and Ready to Work

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Everyone else might show up late, take a long lunch, or leave early, but as a new employee, it’s not worth the risk to follow suit. You don’t want to be the last person to arrive in the morning or the first person to leave every day. Plan to arrive a few minutes early and stay a few minutes late.

You should also be ready to start work on time (or at least be sitting at your desk) and not just barely making it through the front door.

6. Ask For Feedback

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You can usually tell within the first few days of your new role if you’re “getting it” or not. Depending on how well you’re adapting, getting feedback can either be helpful or completely stressful. But it’s important to stay open-minded.

When you have a check-in or performance review, be prepared by bringing a pen and paper to write down anything that your supervisor says and by thinking of good questions to ask that show your interest in this position. Your goal is to show that you really do care about how you can improve and that you’re dedicated to bringing more to the company.

If the feedback is hard to hear or unexpected, just listen for now. It may be valuable, after all, if it helps you pinpoint an area you need to address.

And how your manager handles the situation will speak volumes! A good boss will offer support or resources to help you improve; a bad boss will blame you and leave you to figure it out on your own.

7. Don’t Criticize Without Offering a Solution

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At the same time, you need to learn how to give both positive and negative feedback professionally. A good manager will want to know what you think of the job after your first week or month, and you probably have a lot of thoughts!

Positive feedback is easy, but negative feedback needs to be carefully navigated.

It’s okay to look at the business with a critical eye, but make sure you offer constructive criticism and aren’t just complaining. Criticizing without offering solutions sets the wrong tone. As a new addition to the team, you might not know everything about the business, so jumping in with judgment might work against you.

But if you can speak honestly about your company’s problems without placing personal blame on anyone and offer real suggestions for change, you might gain a reputation as a troubleshooter, which will help you succeed.

8. Stick to the Systems in Place (For Now)

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You will likely develop your own procedures as you learn more about the job, but as a new employee, you should stick to the systems they have in place. Ask for feedback on any changes you would make, as there may be a necessary reason behind them.

Insisting on following your own procedures instead of those of the office could lead to mistakes, misunderstandings, and even potential disciplinary actions. 

9. Be Eager But Don’t Overcommit

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Eagerness and enthusiasm are great but don’t take on too much too soon by saying “yes” to every project or assignment. You don’t know how much time your priority tasks will take yet, and you don’t want to overcommit yourself. This attempt to look good and impress the boss can easily backfire when everything is late and subpar.

Focus on your main tasks and slowly start to take on more as you become more comfortable and confident. You can be more strategic this way, too, and get involved in initiatives that fit in with your goals.

10. Take an Active Roll

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If you want to succeed, you can’t keep saying “no” to new responsibilities, either. Avoiding work responsibilities or creating more work for your colleagues can create resentment very quickly and undermine your reputation and capabilities. 

Yes, you can rely on the other staff members who are training you, but they are not there to do your job for you.  

11. Adapt to the Company Culture

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Try to fit in with your new team as well as within your specific role. This means finding your place in the team and doing your job the way the company expects you to. 

Failing to adhere to the company culture can lead to isolation, hindering your personal growth and the team’s effectiveness. Plus, no one wants to work in an environment like that.

12. Take Advantage of Training

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If the company offers any kind of training program, make sure your name is on the sign-up sheet.

Businesses don’t only use training opportunities to help you gain new skills. They also use them to figure out who actually cares enough to get better at their jobs – especially new employees. When it comes time to make recommendations, they’ll look at who made the effort to improve their skills.

Don’t be afraid to cross-train, either. If there are skills related to the business that you don’t possess, try to learn at least a little bit about them. Not only does this give you more room to move around in your company, but it marks you as the kind of person who cares about how the business works.

13. Participate in Meetings

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Attending meetings isn’t always the most pleasant part of your job, but you can use these gatherings as a way to get ahead.

The goal is to learn how not to be passive in meetings and to leverage your position in a way that gets you face-time with those who make the real decisions in your department and, ultimately, in your company.

The tricky part of this is learning how to chime in at the right times. You want to be the person who can quickly and concisely bring up important or relevant points, but not the person who talks just to hear the sound of your own voice. You don’t want to make others cringe when you raise your hand to speak. However, you shouldn’t sit completely silent during a meeting if you can contribute in a constructive way.

14. Be a Problem Solver

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Proactive problem solvers are valuable in every business. They are not just the people who can be trusted to deal with issues but also the kind of people who tend to get promoted due to their actions.

Again, this step involves finding the right balance. Showing initiative is a good thing, but not everyone is open to hearing new ideas, especially from a new employee.

It also depends on what solving the problem involves. If it is related to your job, has no (or minimal) associated costs, and can be done relatively quickly by you, you should be able to solve the problem on your own. If making a change requires authorization or management’s help, on the other hand, your role should be to present a clear solution to the problem, and your team’s leaders can make decisions about implementing the next steps.

Regardless, you’ll gain a reputation for being a problem solver.

Start Your New Job With Confidence and Avoid Rookie Mistakes

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Starting a new job can be exciting, scary, and stressful. While there are steps that you can and should take to succeed when starting a new role, there are also a few things that you should absolutely avoid doing in any circumstances. Use these tips to start your new job off in the right way and truly succeed.

How to Survive the First Day, Week, and Month of Your New Job

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Starting a new job means a new routine and learning new responsibilities. Most people feel nervous about starting a new job. There are a lot of unknowns, like what your desk setup will be like, whether you will get along with your coworkers, and where you park. Having new job anxiety is completely normal.

The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel from day one. Learn what you need to know to survive your first day, first week, and first month of your new job.

Before You Change Careers

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Work shouldn’t be something we hate. Yet many people tend to stay in jobs that they absolutely despise – usually for the money or because they are too afraid to make a career change. Changing careers and finding a new career can be scary and daunting, even when you are ready to make a switch. These are the essential questions that you should ask yourself before you make a career change.

Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.

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