Finally landing a new job can be equal parts exciting and stressful, but adjusting quickly and learning how to succeed at a new job can be daunting. Yes, you can finally put the interview blazer away and can look forward to afternoons not sitting in office waiting rooms, wringing your hands as you wait for your name to be called towards some ominous door in the back. Sure, now you can make yourself at home with a new desk, make a new circle of friends to get lunch with, and watch yourself unfold and flourish in your new surroundings. But with the joys of new pen holders and water cooler breaks comes the other, slightly darker side: The pressure to succeed. Or more accurately, the pressure to not mess up.
You've worked hard for this opportunity and you want to make sure you do everything you can to not only keep your job, but excel in it. And those first few months settling in can be crucial when it comes to you moving up and to better things in the future. So what exactly should you do during those beginning stages when settling in? I've got you. Below are five unexpected tips for succeeding at your new job — follow them and watch yourself surpass even your own expectations.
1. Focus On Your Weaknesses
This seems counter-intuitive, right? You would think that you would be doing everything you can during those first few months to show your genius in the field, rather than admitting to your vulnerabilities. But the thing is, in the end those vulnerabilities are going to be the things that hold you back. Bite the bullet and spend time practicing those aspects that don't come naturally to you, making sure you become well-rounded in all areas of your job.
[According to] IN an article on The EveryGirl, Michael D. Watkins, author of The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter said, "There’s always a risk you’ll gravitate toward the parts of the job that you enjoy and feel you’re good at — and ignore the parts of the job that you dislike or aren’t as good at. It’s like a right-handed person who favors her right arm — the muscles in her right arm will grow, but the muscles in her left arm won’t. Try to become more ambidextrous, so to speak, so you’re well-rounded."
Every aspect of your job isn't going to be a cake-walk; to be truly a pro you need to dedicate yourself to all the responsibilities that come with it.
2. Find A Mentor
According to Betsy Smith, career advice writer at Levo, "On the crooked path of networking, you never know who’s going to recommend you for your next plum project or future position."
It might seem old school, but during those first couple of months, find yourself a mentor that's either a pro at your current position or is a level above you. Not only will you learn the ins and outs of your job, but you'll collect a valuable amount of tips and stories of past mistakes and successes. Which means you'll get a first hand account of what won't work so save yourself the trouble, and what could possibly advance you in your career. On top of that, you now have someone that believes you enough to take you under their wing, which means you'll be top of mind to them when new opportunities or projects open up.
3. Become A Little Less Strong-Willed
First be a team player, then be a problem solver.
According Watkins, "Some people try to change their boss, but that doesn’t work. You need to be accustomed to your manager’s style and idiosyncrasies. Maybe, for instance, your boss loves meetings and you don’t. If you follow her lead and schedule them, you’re more likely to please her. It’s also crucial to do work that matters to your boss. Even if you wouldn’t prioritize in the same way, you should prioritize the way your boss does in the first 90 days."
Respect your boss-employee dynamic and try to do things their way to show you're a team player and are quick to learn and adapt to new processes. Keep this up for the first couple of months and then, if you notice a new process or strategy could be more efficient, voice your ideas. Once it seems evident that you know the processes of the workflow and the strategies behind it, you could be trusted as someone approaching it with new eyes rather than just a bossy attitude.
4. Don't Lock Yourself In
This could sound surprising while you're in the glow of your new job; why would you already be looking for a different avenue? But your days are full of chances that could completely change the route of your life if only you let them. That being said, if someone comes to dump a task on the new girl that's out of your job description, don't be afraid to take it. You never know where it could lead. Maybe you excel at it tenfold, impress the higher-up, and could be looking at working your way towards a different job title in the future. Or you can discover you actually really, really like doing it and could start heading towards a different path.
For example, my first job out of college was to an assistant/secretary position at a firm. My duties included answering phones, tidying files, and watering plants; your typical admin hooplah. Then one day my boss asked me if I could help invite people to an event he was planning to host. Fast-forward a year and I was his marketing specialist. According to Courtney Weinblatt, marketing director at Marie Claire, "Be open to new opportunities, few career paths are straight."
5. Keep Your Goals Visible
Even though you need a paycheck to keep a roof over your head and food in your belly, there was probably a higher reason why you were excited about landing this job. What did you want to achieve with it? Did you want to grow in your skill set? Did you want a chance to make powerful connections? Whatever it is, there will be times when you fall into a rhythm or a rut and lose sight of why you're actually there. Keep a physical reminder of it on your workspace and hold yourself accountable to stay the course.
According to Julie Morgenstern, organization and time management expert, in an article for Refinery 29, "You figure out the larger payoff, then design a system that helps you achieve it. Write down what you want to achieve and keep it somewhere visible, so you'll always be reminded of what you're really working toward. It can be a phrase or a symbol or a Post-It on your computer. Doesn't matter what the goal is, as long as it matters to you."
New jobs are terrifying. They just are. No one likes being the new person, and the workload can seem overwhelming. But take a deep breath, get to work, and remember these tips, and it won't seem quite as horrifying. Promise.