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You Got the Job… Now What?

Congratulations on your new job! If you are excited, that is good. You want to show up full of energy and excitement. If you are nervous, that is understandable. While you probably met some of your colleagues, there will be many new faces and names to learn. You might also be confused about what to expect, scared at the prospect of starting something new, or overwhelmed at figuring out how to be productive from day one. Here are 10 steps to take when starting a new job to ensure you are productive and successful as quickly as possible:

1. Behave as if you are still being interviewed.

Once you are hired it is natural to feel a sense of accomplishment. It is easy to assume you belong. After all, they hired you, right? You are awesome! And the company is brilliant for having recognized your awesomeness. High five!

Not so fast. Sure, you got hired, and in fact you may be awesome, but you have not actually done anything for your new company yet. All you have really shown is that you can get the great new gig. Now you need to prove you deserve it. Think of your first thirty to ninety days as an extended interview. Show up every day thinking you need to prove you deserved to be hired. You will work harder, work smarter, will not take anything for granted… and in short order you will prove you belong.

2. See your manager as a person you help, not a person who tells you what to do.

Yes, in theory, your manager gets to tell you what to do. In practice, that is probably not why she hired you. Here’s a better approach: Your manager has things she needs to get done. See your job as helping her get those things done. The more you help her achieve her goals and targets the more highly you will be valued.

Plus, you will find it is a lot easier to work hard when you feel you are helping someone instead of obeying them. And you will enjoy your work more too – it is a lot more fun and an infinitely more rewarding to help than to comply.

3. Build relationships based on performance, not conversation.

Great companies with great cultures welcome new employees to the fold. Other employees go out of their way to meet and get to know you. That is awesome, but work still involves work, not just conversation. Be nice, be friendly, be yourself – but always remember that the best working relationships are based on respect and trust, and respect and trust are based on actions and performance, not just on words.

Prove yourself. Pitch in. Help. Follow through. Meet every commitment. Earn the respect and trust of others and you will build great professional relationships. And you will build some great friendships, too.

4. Go the extra mile early – and often.

Early on you probably do not have all the skills you need. You probably do not have all the experience. You probably do not have all the contacts and connections. But you can have the willingness to work extremely hard. Work hard and everyone around you will forgive a certain lack of skill and experience. They will know you are trying – and sometimes, at least for a while, that is all that matters.

5. Spot the high performers and mimic them.

Every organization is different, which means the key attributes of top performers in those organizations are different, too. Maybe the top performers work more – or different – hours. Maybe relationship building is more important than transactional selling. Maybe flexibility is more important than methodology.

Pick out the top performers and study them. Figure out what makes them tick. How they approach problems. How they make decisions. There is no need to reinvent the high-performance wheel; save that for when you are a top performer and want to go an even higher level.

6. Think three moves ahead.

Great chess players think many moves ahead. The current move builds a base for future moves. You can do the same at work. Think about where a task might lead you. Think about how you can leverage your current responsibilities. Think about what skills you can learn, visibility you can gain, connections you can build… every task, every project, and every job can lead to several great possibilities. Think of your current duties as one piece in a puzzle, a puzzle that you get to put together and ultimately build.

7. Find a way to stand out.

Work hard to be known for something specific. Be known for responding more quickly or following up first or always offering to help before you are asked. Be the leader known for turning around struggling employees or creating the biggest pool of promotable talent or building bridges between different departments. Pick a worthwhile mission – one that truly benefits the company and other employees – and work to excel at that mission. Then you will stand out in the best possible way.

8. Create your own project.

Succeeding and even excelling at the projects you are assigned is expected. Excelling at a project you create yourself is exceptional. The key is to take personal risk with a new project.

You do not have to wait to be asked. You do not have to wait to be assigned. Pick a side project where, if you fail, there is no harm and no foul, and take your shot. You never know how it will turn out… and what it will do for your career.

9. Find people to help.

You are new. People are supposed to help you, right? Right. And wrong.

You can start helping people now. If you see someone struggling and you don’t know what to do, say, “I’m new so you may have to tell me what to do… but I would love to help you.” If you are in a meeting and someone else was assigned a seemingly overwhelming project, stop by later and ask if you can help. Even if you are not taken up on it, the offer will likely be appreciated.

Or volunteer to help in an area you would like to know more about. Work in sales? You could volunteer to help your marketing team create a new piece of content. Work in marketing? You could help your engineering team do some user testing on a new product.

10. Never forget why you were hired.

Yes, you want to learn and grow. Yes, you want to build a career. Yes, you want to feel happy and fulfilled. And yes, you were hired to help advance the goals and mission of the company.

It is possible to fulfill your goals and the company’s goals. Make sure you do. That way you and the company win – and isn’t that what the employer/employee relationship should be all about?