What’s Your Best Tip for Navigating the First 90 Days on the Job?

January 13, 2015

Starting a new job can feel like the first day of school all over again — except you can’t count on any quarterly report cards to tell you where you stand.

So how should a newbie navigate these bewildering first months?

When Influencer Angela Ahrendts started anew as the senior vice president of Apple Retail, she shared this poignant advice after about two months on the job: “[T]rust your instincts and emotions. Let them guide you in every situation; they will not fail you. Never will your objectivity be as clear or your instincts sharper than in the first 30-90 days. Cherish this time and fight the urge to overthink.”

We delve deeper into this critical time in our latest series on LinkedIn, My First 90 Days, as Influencers from Richard Branson to Deepak Chopra reveal how they survived their first three months on the job.

Given that the average worker will stay at his job for less than 5 years (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), there will be plenty of first days to experience.

YOUR TURN: What do you wish you had known when you were starting a new job? What could have made your first few months as a new hire more successful?

Whether you’re starting a new job or simply recalling your own first days, check out some of these tips — and then add your own by publishing a post on LinkedIn. Please use the hashtag #First90 somewhere in the body (not the headline) of your post.

Here's what the Influencers had to say:



Listen, and write everything down.

Not many professionals will experience 400 first days, so take it from someone who has — Richard Branson.

Amid the blur of new faces to remember and information to digest, staying organized is key. Even a brilliant mind like Branson finds value in jotting things down: “Whether it’s in an old-fashioned notebook like I favour, or on your iPhone, record what you learn and add your own observations too. You’ll soon have a priceless resource to build upon.”

If it works for Branson...



Don’t get pegged as the office “golden child.”

You'll make your first months harder if you're seen as a "know-it-all who is trying to be management's new favorite,” J.T. O'Donnell writes. Consider dialing things back a bit until you gain your footing. But whatever you do, "don't step on the toes of employees who have been there longer."




Suck up to the right people.

Left your badge at home (again)? Forgot your password (again)? You probably aren’t going to be running to your boss for help. As you seek to impress your new colleagues, don’t forget to befriend — and stay on the good side of — the people who keep the office running. As Guy Kawasaki points out:




Begin working before your official start date.

As tempting as it is to squeeze in that last-minute vacation before your official start date, consider diving right into the fray like Maynard Webb did.

Less than a week before Webb was to start at eBay, then-CEO Meg Whitman called him: “We are in crisis, you have to be here sooner.” In the days leading up to his official start date, Webb recounts buying a house in a day (without having time to show his family beforehand), pulling all-nighters, and more.

webb_quoteThough those harrowing first days were an admittedly atypical onboarding experience, Webb learned some valuable lessons that have served him well: “Take 20 minutes every day for the first week or two to investigate how it is going. You can instantly tell if someone is struggling or succeeding and iterate to make things work more smoothly. Always ask, 'What do you need from me?'"




Plan 3 months’ worth of lunch dates.

Even if it feels like you'll never find enough time in the day, invite your new colleagues to lunch. “It’s not about the lunch and it doesn’t have to be lunch,” Menlo College President Richard Moran writes. “What you are doing is listening. You are asking questions to learn as much as you can so that you can then do something.”





Never say no. Say “let me try” instead.

As you get settled in your new role, chances are you’ll feel in over your head. Understandably, volunteering for new challenges will probably be your last priority. Kiip founder Brian Wong has a different approach:





Before those 90 days start, master self-care.

No job is worth sacrificing your well-being. Deepak Chopra learned this difficult lesson during his first 90 days as an ER doctor in the U.S. He writes: “The pay was poor, the hours long, the stress sometimes overwhelming.”

As you focus on always doing the right thing in your new job, here’s what Chopra says not to do:





Accept that you won’t change the world in 3 months.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, or in 90. So why do you keep pressuring yourself to not only live up to everyone’s expectations but exceed them? Entrepreneur Inge Geerdens has seen this cycle repeat itself over and over again: your overzealousness is followed by a sense of despair.



In the coming weeks, look for more advice from these other Influencers.

  • Elliot S. Weissbluth, CEO at HighTower: Part 2 of the Interview Is Just Beginning
  • Adam Goldstein, President and COO at Royal Caribbean: Do You Know the Difference Between Gossiping and Gaining Info?
  • Sunil Paul, SideCar CEO and Co-Founder: Always Show the Real You
  • Tom Monahan, Chairman and CEO at CEB: New Leaders Cannot (and Should Not) Succeed Alone


Think back:

What have you done right — and wrong — during your first 90 days on the job?What are some specific strategies for adapting to a new company culture? What tips do you have for mastering the learning curve?

Or if you’re just beginning a new job, why not walk us through your 90-day journey?

Please use the hashtag #First90 somewhere in the body — not the headline — of your post.

Start writing.