Beginning a new job can be charged with an odd combination of excitement, fear, and anxiety. You’re pumped to start this chapter of your professional life. You’re scared of all the new stuff you’ll be required to learn. You’re worried about fitting in (or worried that your boss is worried), catching on quickly, and exceling in your role. These feelings are all completely normal. While you probably won’t be able to extinguish all of them in your first week or month, you can minimize them by having the right mindset.
If you want to be successful, you’ve got to go in on solid footing. Your goal is to build trust early on, get noticed before you accomplish some major initiative, and give yourself the option of making this a long-term career stay. Here’s how to do it:
1. Rather Than Thinking You Can Rest Now That You’re Employed, Think About What’s Next
Regardless of your shiny, new title, always remember that you’re the CEO of your own career. Having a CEO mindset means being willing to take a proactive versus reactive approach to your work. That means not only working with the agenda your manager establishes for you but also setting actionable goals for yourself. You need to do the work you’re given and assigned, and you need to identify opportunities that are within your reach, even if they aren’t in your job description per se.
A CEO mindset also requires building relationships across the company—not just in your department with people on your team. It means staying focused on your professional development by staying on top of industry news, trends, and the latest research. It means delivering more than what’s expected of you. When you have a true CEO attitude, you aren’t just going to work each day and getting paid–you’re thinking big, building a bright future.
2. Rather Than Only Collaborating With Your Team, Think About What You Can Learn From All Your Colleagues
Most people think of informational meetings solely as an opportunity to build their network outside of their company or to network for a new job. But if you want to increase your influence and learning curve when you begin a new position, it’s in your best interest to schedule these meetings after you’ve landed the job.
Think of these in-house informational meetings as providing a unique opportunity for you to meet your colleagues and learn about the company’s mission and trajectory—beyond what you gleaned from your interviews or any onboarding. It’s a great way to introduce yourself, establish your role with the organization, and build your personal brand with respect to what’s going on inside the company.
Once you identify individuals within your department that you’d like to get to know, request 15 minutes of their time within your first few weeks at the job. For a productive meeting, prepare in advance: Learn as much as you can about the person and her background. Remember that the focus is on the other person–you’re there to be a sponge and soak up her wisdom and experience. Each meeting is a chance for you to build upon a network of allies, an asset no matter where you are in your career.
3. Rather Than Assuming All Is Well, Schedule Your Own Performance Reviews
Approach your new job with genuine curiosity and a longing to consistently improve, and you’ll reap the rewards. Although a lot of companies require annual or bi-annual employee performance reviews, waiting until you’ve been at the company for six months or even a year to get solid feedback isn’t going to help you grow. Instead schedule your own performance reviews and arm yourself with questions for your manager about where you are and what you could be doing better. Consider scheduling regular mini-reviews on a monthly basis with your manager, team, and colleagues.
Don’t assume because you haven’t received any constructive criticism that all is running smoothly. Some managers have a hard time dishing out truly negative feedback, but if you mistake silence for praise, you’re not going to be making much of a mark for yourself. By directly requesting information on how you’re doing, you establish the precedent that you care, that you want to be given direction and insight that’ll help you help the company
Remember that no job is new forever. Change is scary and it can be hard to get ahead when you’re simply trying to learn the ropes, but mindset changes make it possible to succeed early and often. Plus, it’s to your advantage to stoke the fire and be consistently curious and eager to engage with your colleagues in departments near and far. Lastly, if your dream job is to one day be a CEO, there’s no time like the present to develop and hone that mindset.
Photo of woman on her first day of work courtesy of Eric Audras/Getty Images.