How to Make the Most of Your First 3 Months at Your New Job

Career Advice
minute read

You’ve landed your new role, and you’re about to start your first day there. How do you make sure you shine in your new position? We’re glad you’re asking that question!

You’ve landed your new role, and you’re about to start your first day there. How do you make sure you shine in your new position? We’re glad you’re asking that question! Your first 90 days on the job are key to how well you acclimate to your new workplace. These first 3 months are when you stand the best chance of making a positive impression, and they set a firm foundation for you as you build your career.

In other words, it’s important to take this startup time in a new role seriously and do all you can to set yourself up for success. Here’s how to go about achieving that.

Begin Your Preparation before Day 1

The interview process can be grueling—so when you accept a job offer, you may be tempted to give a sigh of relief and just relax until your first day. But you can use some of your pre-onboarding time to start your day 1 on a strong footing.

Study up in advance

Of course, you can do some initial research online, reading through the company’s website and thinking about their mission and vision if you haven’t already done so during your interviews. Add to that by asking for specific suggestions from the hiring team. 

  • Are there any press releases, news articles, or other materials you can review?
  • Does your new boss have a favorite book they use as inspiration for their team?
  • Are there videos, podcasts or other sources of industry-related knowledge that would be helpful to you?

Know when and where to go

Also, make sure you are clear on the basics of what you’ll need to show up for your first day—including start time, location, documentation you need to bring, etc.

Get the Lay of the Land during Your First 1-2 Weeks

Your first couple of weeks in your new role serve as a time of transition. It’s to be expected that you’ll experience a mix of emotions, feeling excited at one point, anxious at others, even overwhelmed as you learn what’s expected on a day-to-day basis. Your goal during this time is to acclimate to your new environment.

Make connections

Getting to know your colleagues can take time, and may even feel a bit awkward at first, sort of like speed dating. But as you introduce yourself and learn names, you’ll also pick up on who’s open to friendship or collaboration. 

  • If your role is in-person, see if you can go to lunch with coworkers a couple of times, or invite someone for coffee pre- or post-work.
  • If you’re remote, get creative. Ask about setting up casual chats on Zoom, or see if there are chat channels where people share information.

Learn the company culture

Every company is unique, and it’s important to discover how your new workplace functions. Respect the written rules, of course — be on time, show up for meetings, dress appropriately. But also look for unwritten rules. 

  • Do coworkers like to go to lunch together on Fridays? 
  • Do people bring in snacks to share? 
  • Do most of your coworkers need quiet time when working, rather than music publicly playing?
  • How do people generally prefer to communicate—formally or informally, verbally or in writing, in person or by phone?

Be invested

Depending on your role and the specific organization you’ve joined, you may have minimal onboarding—or major training to gear you up for success. Make the most of whatever you’re offered.

  • Pay attention rather than tuning out. Be a good listener and student.
  • Approach the learning process with curiosity. You’ll learn a lot—not just about your role, but also about the people you’re working with.
  • Find out if there are optional training opportunities you can take advantage of.

Establish Your Foundation in Months 1-2

After you’ve become more comfortable in the daily feel of your new workplace, you can begin to think about the bigger picture of your role.

Connect with your manager to set mutual expectations

It’s common to have a meeting or two with your direct report during your first week on a job, or right after the onboarding/training process. But don’t be afraid to ask for a meeting if one hasn’t been set. During the meeting:

  • Clarify your responsibilities and make sure you fully understand what is expected, beyond the basic job description.
  • Find out if there are key deadlines and tasks to regularly perform, so you know what your boss expects to happen and when.
  • Ask questions about what would be most helpful to your boss.
  • Be open in your communication, and find out what routines work best for your boss, such as when and how to connect with them when you have questions.
  • Get clarity on what constitutes success on the job so you can target your work accordingly.

Ask for help—and give it 

You’ll be learning new things, and it’s understandable that you’ll need some guidance. So, ask around when you have questions.

  • Take notes so you don’t have to ask the same questions multiple times.
  • Be mindful that sometimes coworkers are on deadlines and may not be able to answer you  immediately.
  • Notice those you feel would make a good mentor, as well as those who are open to offering help.

Balance things by offering to help others when you can. A pitch-in attitude is welcome in most cases, and you’ll show you care to be part of the team.

Think Forward in Month 3 and Beyond

After you’ve hit your 90-day mark in your new role, be proud of it. You’ve hit a major milestone. You now have a sense of what the position entails, how the company culture works, what your manager likes in their team, and much more. Now you can consider how to level up your own career goals within that environment.

Embrace your performance review

Many organizations automatically set up performance reviews for their new hires, especially at the three-month mark. If yours doesn’t, ask for one. In the review:

  • Be open to feedback, positive and constructive. No one’s perfect, but we can all learn from how others see our performance.
  • Be inquisitive about what you can do to shine. Ask what your manager would like to see.
  • Set goals and next steps so that you have a clear target to aim toward.

Set up a growth trajectory

Use your networking skills to create a path to further career growth. After all, you’re an established member of the team at this point. A great way to grow is to set up informational interviews with colleagues and higher-ups.

  • Meet with people you’d like to connect with—over coffee or lunch, or in a set workplace appointment. 
  • Ask them what makes the company tick, from their point of view.
  • Find out what they love about your organization, as well as areas where they see room for growth that you can lean into.
  • Find out how you can solve existing problems or fill needs.

Maintain a Livable Routine

Beyond the workplace, it’s important to make time for personal needs and self-care too. 

Set boundaries as needed

It’s easy to let the jitters of starting a new job lead you into offering to stay late, volunteering for extra work, or taking the job home. If you’re working remotely, you may allow work hours to bleed into your evenings, checking email and thinking about the job after-hours. 

To combat this tendency:

  • Set clear times that your workday will end, so you’re not working all evening.
  • Turn off your work phone or work computer so you can avoid the temptation to check emails.
  • Take regular breaks during your workday to take a quick walk or rest.
  • Eat meals in the kitchen or break room or outside, not at your desk.

Summing it up

Use your first 3 months in your new role effectively to set yourself up for long-term success. Remember, this is a transition period that requires you to be flexible, open to feedback, and persistent so you can find your footing. Embrace this time with mindful curiosity and keep a good attitude, and you’ll be set to thrive in your new position.