Tips for Getting a Good Start in a New Job

Your first month in a new job is a window of opportunity, so take advantage of being the "new guy."

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As the job market improves and more companies start to hire, we’ll likely see more people changing jobs. Many will join companies not as full-time employees, but as contractors, temporaries, and consultants.

Being able to assimilate quickly and successfully into a new job at a new company can be a real differentiator for success, especially in today’s employment market. The first 30 days of a new job is a window of opportunity, one that can make the difference between long-term success and failure.

During the early days, you have a chance to meet people and learn about your company, opportunities that may not be available once the “new guy” status wears off. Every door is open, and every question is accepted. After that first month, you’ll be expected to know who is who and what you’re supposed to do.

[See 14 Secrets to Career Change Success.]

As with any opportunity or occasion, there are certain people who do well in the initial period, those who assimilate immediately into their new job. These people can walk into a room and quickly strike up conversations, make connections and become part of the “in group.” Others may struggle to integrate, feel like an outsider, and maybe even look uncomfortable. If you’re not great at assimilating quickly, then now is the time to think about what you need to do differently the next time you switch jobs.

Here are some tips to get off to a good start in a new job:

1. Ask for an organization chart of your company and department. Use that organization chart to be sure you have met as many people as you can within the first 30 days.

2. Come up with 10 questions to ask as you get to know the organization’s employees. These questions will show others that you’re interested, and that you want to understand more about how the company runs and what it needs to succeed.

3. Be ready to succinctly tell your career story. Be able to explain how you got to where you are, and what you’re hoping to accomplish in the future.

4. Focus on helping others. Don’t leave any conversation during your first month without asking your new colleague or boss, “What can I do to help you?”

[For more career advice, visit U.S. News Careers, or find us on Facebook and Twitter.]

By using the first days in your new job to your advantage, you’re setting yourself up for future success and career advancement. Don’t be afraid to be open, to get to know your colleagues, and to listen to what your new co-workers have to say about the ins and outs of the job. Jump with both feet into your new opportunity, and focus on creating productive work relationships. By assimilating quickly and proving yourself valuable from the get-go, you’ll become a key part of the office team for the long run.

Rusty Rueff, director and career expert for jobs and career website Glassdoor.com has been a CEO, led HR in global companies and is co-author of Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business.

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