The Idealist Career Advice Guide to Starting a New Job

The Idealist Career Advice Guide to Starting a New Job was originally published on Idealist Careers.

Between meeting colleagues, mastering skills, and tackling new responsibilities, the first three months at a new job can feel invigorating. But, of course, it may take some time to build up the confidence to accomplish everything you want to do in the new role.

To help you know what to expect in the first days, weeks, and months of a new job, we’ve put together a First 100 Days guide. Read on for tips and resources on how to avoid rookie mistakes, impress your manager, and connect with new colleagues.

Before starting a new job

  • Read up on the new organization. Review all of the research you did when applying and interviewing for the new role, as well as any notes you took during interviews. It’s also a good idea to re-read staff bios and familiarize yourself with new faces.
  • Ask for necessary materials in advance, particularly if you’re onboarding remotely. Most organizations will send onboarding documents, but you can also request reports, outlines of previous projects, or anything else that can prepare for the job.
  • If necessary, submit a request for workplace accommodation for a disability. Make your request through a written form of communication that outlines any physical or technological resources you’ll need to be successful at work.

The first day at a new job

  • Absorb as much information as you can. Your new employer should be focused on setting you up for the new role, so stick to the 90/10 rule: make it your goal to listen 90% of the time, and talk 10% of the time. Hint: most of the 10% should be asking questions!
  • Introduce your name, pronouns, and job title. You may be nervous to put yourself out there on the first day at a new job, but the people you pass in the hallway will become more than just familiar faces over the next few months. Take every opportunity to introduce yourself to co-workers and learn what they do at the organization—it will help you feel more settled.
  • Take notes. It’ll be nearly impossible to remember everything you’re being told today, so it’s helpful to have a written record of team members’ names and job titles and the more important tasks you need to recall. It’s okay if you don’t capture everything—most of what you’re learning will be reinforced on the job or documented in the staff manual.
  • Set up your space. Depending on the job, this might mean organizing your computer (installing software, bookmarking important websites, saving usernames and passwords), making sure you have office supplies and furniture, or getting the right uniform or tools.
  • Take a breath. After work, reward yourself on a successful first day by doing something fun or relaxing!

The first week at a new job

  • Organize getting-to-know-you meetings with colleagues. Depending on the size of your employer, you may decide to only chat with people you’ll work with directly or extend your invitation to everyone at the organization. Use this time to ask colleagues about their background, career goals, and what they hope you’ll be able to accomplish with them. You can learn a lot about others’ expectations of you this way!
  • Practice humility. Chances are your manager didn’t hire you to “fix” everything; they hired you because they believe your skills and experience can have a positive impact. Come with a fresh perspective, but be quick to deliver a compliment or acknowledge what’s working. A good rule of thumb is to avoid talking about your most recent job as much as possible (e.g. “Well, this is how we did it at…”)

Pro Tip: If you experience social anxiety, check out our tips for communicating with others in the workplace.

The first month at a new job

  • Study up. Read the organization’s newsletters, websites, social media, annual reports—anything you can find. Consider setting up Google Alerts about your organization to stay current.
  • Have a frank discussion with your manager about any unwritten rules or standards. You can also seek clarification on performance metrics and expectations.
  • Update social networking profiles. Let everyone know about your new job, and any new ways you may want to connect.

The second month at a new job

  • Take responsibility for your professional development. Now that you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt, think about how you want to grow in the role, or at the organization as a whole. Subscribe to relevant blogs, join a professional association or Meetup, and identify trainings or books that may be helpful.
  • Do a favor for someone. If you’re paying attention to others, you should be able to recognize an opportunity to make someone’s day. Not only will you get the immediate satisfaction of helping someone out, but your colleague will remember it later.
  • Seek out a mentor. Having a mentor (or several) can improve job performance, grow your network, and even help you advance more quickly within the organization.

The third month at a new job

  • Improve a process. By this point you’ve learned a thing or two about the inner workings of the organization, and it’s time to take advantage of your fresh perspective and prior experience. Have you noticed a task you have to do over and over again? Perhaps you can automate it. Is there a particular workflow you’ve found difficult to master? Maybe it could be more intuitive.
  • Investigate something outside of your role’s responsibilities. Chat up a colleague at lunch about a project they’re working on, wander over to a different department during your coffee break, or Slack another staff member you haven’t worked with yet. The more you know about what’s going on outside of your immediate responsibilities, the more likely it is you’ll be able to make valuable connections across the organization.
  • Request a three-month review. Prepare by jotting down notes about your accomplishments to date, and any new work you’d like to take on. Ask questions about how you’re doing and be ready to accept feedback.

Starting a new job can be overwhelming, but don’t forget to take a step back from work and recognize the progress you’ve made. After 100 days, you should feel like you’re part of the team.


If you’re searching for more ways to integrate yourself into a new workplace, try implementing some of these environmental initiatives at the office. Our planet will thank you!