By Mary Fons
Making it through what often seems like an eternity of unemployment requires job seekers to jump through the hoops, present an ironclad resume and ace the big interview.
Once that s said and done, the battle is won, right?
According to the Center for Creative Leadership, 40 percent of new-hires fail in the first 18 months, says Kip Trum, senior executive in consulting, marketing, and operations at New York based WJM Associates, Inc. Trum says that just because you got the job, that s no guarantee you re going to keep it. Yes, they want you, he says, but that does not mean that they have the intention or process for [you] to be successful.
You got the job. Now it s up to you to keep it and the first 12 weeks are crucial to your success.
Beyond making a good first impression, many new hires don t realize what s expected of them or how to communicate with their superiors. Without some proactive thinking and initiative on the part of the newbie, they may never be told and soon find themselves back out in the wilderness of the job hunt.
In their new book, Sink or Swim, (Adams Media Publishing, May 2006) husband and wife organizational and leadership development consultants Milo and Thuy Sindell break down in no uncertain terms what it takes to get and stay on top of your new job quickly. As far as they re concerned, you don t have a choice.
Despite the fact that you were special enough to be selected by your new employer, it is now up to you to deliver, Milo Sindell says. The first 12 weeks is the amount of time you have to demonstrate your skills, understand your company s culture, create a network of relationships and build a foundation for your success at your new job.
The first thing to do is to communicate with your boss and define what doing a good job means in the first place if you don t know how to do well, you never will.
As a new employee, your first goal is to define your role and responsibilities and confirm that your definition of success is the same as your boss , Sindell says. There is nothing worse than assuming you know what your boss wants only to find out weeks down the road that you are completely off target.
Understanding your environment is another key to making the most of your first few months on the job. What worked at your last office may not work at the new one. For the newly hired, says Trum, the management challenges may appear familiar, yet cultures vary so dramatically, and it can be like landing on a different planet. Certain behaviors that were acceptable and even successful in the previous organization may be de-railers.
The only way to find out is to ask.
As a new employee, your job is to ask questions, Sindell says. But just when you thought you were as stressed out as you could possibly be, there s a word of caution: don t ask just any question. Use your head.
If you want to make a great impression from the start, ask informed questions, Thuy Sindell says. Don t ask when the company was founded when you can easily find this information on the company Web site, but do ask questions that demonstrate you ve done your research such as why the sales department reports into the engineering function. They note that asking these kinds of questions while in your rookie role will help build credibility while providing you with important information.
I told my employers that I ask a lot of questions at first because I would rather learn how to something right the first time than correct it later, says Emily Rose, an operations assistant and self-described Go-To Girl who has been working in and around the Chicago area for the past 10 years. The experts would approve of Rose s ask now, not later habit.
Rose just sees it as common sense. Questions help you know why you need to do what you do. By knowing the why, you can assess whether there is anything that can be done to streamline or make a system more efficient, she says. Rose says that only makes her job easier and shows her supervisor that she s got initiative.
Initiative seems to be a key word when it comes to getting off on the right foot at a new job. Says Thuy Sindell, Successful people understand the contribution they make to their company, and also what they are gaining beyond a compensation package in return for their contribution. They feel that if an employee shows clarity about his or her goals within an organization, the job becomes a place of opportunity rather than just a place where you spend 40-plus hours of your week. That kind of initiative shows employers how you value your job and your role within the company.
Trum offers a laundry list of initiative-taking, on-boarding tips including, Build an effective relationship with upper management, develop trust, solicit feedback from managers and avoid negative behaviors. Both experts and Rose agree that it s ultimately your responsibility to find out how to put a checkmark next to each item on the list.
Milo Sindell says, Success at a new job is too important to leave to luck. Every new employee needs a week by week plan for how to be successful on the job.
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