October 13, 2010
New job? How long you have to prove yourself
Just got hired or promoted? Congratulations! But don't make the mistake of thinking you have three to six months to get acclimated to your new position. According to a new survey by staffing firm The Creative Group, new hires have about nine weeks to prove themselves in today's post-recession workplace.
[Flickr photo by jnyemb]
To arrive at this figure, the Creative Group conducted a telephone poll of 500 marketing and advertising executives selected at random throughout the country. Nine weeks was the average length of time respondents said it takes them to tell whether a freshly hired employee is "a good fit for the job."
So much for those multi-month "new kid in the office" grace periods of yesteryear, eh?
Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group, attributes these steeper expectations of new hires to the recessionary fallout plaguing so much of the business world.
"There's this new reality and it's because teams are still fairly lean today," Farrugia says. "The decision to make a new hire can be really difficult, especially for small- and medium-sized businesses. When they do make a hire, they expect that person to acclimate more quickly and to make immediate contributions from day one."
As a result, Farrugia adds, if you're starting a new job or embarking on a new role in your company, it's your job to ensure that your boss stops thinking of you as a newbie and starts thinking of you as one of the team as quickly as possible. Following are Farrugia's top suggestions for making that happen.
Train yourself. "You can't wait for someone to train you," Farrugia says. "You have to be more proactive and resourceful now. There aren't a lot of training resources in many small- to medium-sized companies." And, she adds, thanks to downsizing, "There aren't a lot of people to help you."
Ask what's expected of you. "Make sure that within the first couple of days you meet with your direct manager and you clarify your immediate priorities," Farrugia advises. Find out what your manager's 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals are for you and how and when you'll receive feedback, she adds. In addition, Farrugia says, emailing the boss weekly status updates of how your projects are progressing couldn't hurt.
Meet movers, shakers, and collaborators. Once you've pinpointed your top five to-do's for the coming weeks, set up meetings or lunch dates with the coworkers and colleagues who can help you meet those goals, Farrugia says. Rather than waiting for someone to take your hand and make the necessary introductions, "you need to navigate through the organization on your own," she says.
Follow the corporate culture. Note the unspoken office rituals -- for example, whether overtime is the rule or the exception, and whether teammates prefer to confab by email, IM, phone, or in person. Then do your darnedest to follow suit.
Pay attention to meeting etiquette. On some teams, everyone arrives or calls in to meetings five minutes early and that's when the appointment starts. On others, laptops and mobile devices are banned from the conference room. Ask a colleague about the meeting mores ahead of time so you fit in from the get-go. As for voicing your opinion in meetings, Farrugia recommends employing a five-second rule: If the meeting leader's request for feedback is met with a weighty silence from the rest of the team, by all means jump in.
Watch your attitude. "Your attitude is the number one thing that gets you hired and the number one thing that gets you fired," Farrugia cautions. "You don't want to take on more than you can handle, but you do want to show absolute enthusiasm for your new job."
Readers, how about you? If you recently started a new position, how did you push through the ramp-up period and earn the trust of your manager and colleagues?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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