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Polly LaBerre

Polly LaBerre

CNN business correspondent and co-author of Mavericks at Work...

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Chester Elton

Co-author of The Carrot Principle and The 24-Carrot Manager

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Cathie Black

President of Hearst Magazines

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Top 5 Things to Do

Whether it’s your first new job or your ninth, you definitely want to make the best impression in the first 30 days. We all know the importance of dressing for success, but first impressions require more than just suitable work attire. Follow these five tips when starting a new job and get ready to travel the road to success.

1. Arrive early and stay late.

Even if you’re not given a ton of work in the first weeks or even months of your new job, don’t take that as free pass to run some errands. Establishing early on that you are not just punching the clock reassures your new colleagues that when crunch-time arrives, you’ll be ready to take on whatever is needed to get the job done.

2. Collect data.

When you start a new job, people expect you to have a lot of questions. Use this time wisely. Meet with people in your department (and beyond) and talk about what their role is in the company. Remember to use this time as learning experience. Don’t turn it into a gossip session. Instead find out about the company, the person who had your job before you and little bits about the person sitting across the table.

3. Engage your boss.

Your boss wants you to succeed, but you need to know what that success looks like before you can proceed. In the early weeks of your new job, it’s imperative that you have a meeting with your boss to get a true understanding of what he or she wants from you. Keep your boss updated on your progress—even when you haven’t done much. Send email stating that you’ve met with the key players, learned the new software and are ready to take on the next assignment.

4. Be flexible.

Too often when starting a new job, people jump back into the old (and often bad) habits of their old jobs. Instead of saying “I can’t do that,” say “I’ve never worked with that program before, but I’d love to learn it.”

5. Manage expectations.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a new job is over-promising and under-delivering. If someone asks you to get something done on Tuesday, but you already have another project to finish for Tuesday, it’s OK to say, “I have a project to finish up for Pete on Tuesday, can I get this to you on Thursday?” But, make sure when you give your word that you actually deliver.

Posted: 2/26/08