danielscareers-first90daysYou made it through the seemingly endless application process, researched the company, practiced your interviewing skills, nailed the phone and numerous in person interviews, then passed the background check with flying colors.

Now what?

How do you hit the ground running and make a positive impact on the company in the first 90 days? What can you do to make a positive impression on both your supervisors and colleagues? Set a positive image by perfecting professional best practices, beginning on day one.

Professional behavior:

  • Recognize that an assessment of you is made within 7 seconds based on your appearance alone.
  • You have complete control over your attire, grooming habits and the way you carry yourself which contribute to your appearance.
  • A neat work area leads to a well-organized appearance.
  • Don’t gossip. Make friends of your co-workers by saying only positive things.
  • Avoid the office gossiper; try something like, “I’d better get back to my project now.”
  • “The eyes believe themselves, the ears believe other people”– German proverb
  • Learn the company’s personality and culture.
  • There are unique sets of rules and norms, often unspoken and informal, about how you should behave; learn what the norms and values of the organization are by watching how others behave.
  • Organizations want employees who “fit” the culture and enthusiastically embrace it.

Win over the boss:

  • Meet with your supervisor to clearly define expectations for outcomes and define success; this will differentiate you immediately.
  • Volunteer for projects — particularly the more difficult and/or prominent ones
  • Always be productive
  • Don’t procrastinate or waste time
  • Be part of the solution: if you must bring a problem to the attention of the boss, take a possible solution or two
  • Everyone notices who leaves early and comes in late; don’t be that person
  • Learn from everyone you encounter; never stop improving your skills; cross-train and further your knowledge base
  • If you don’t know what something is or how to do something, find out; don’t make excuses for why you couldn’t do it
  • Stay informed about what’s happening in the industry, with the competition and in the world
  • Take time to plan on a regular basis
  • Actively seek feedback
  • Take criticism gracefully; it will provide you with valuable ideas about what is expected of you and areas for improvement
  • Don’t go over your boss’s head
  • Don’t surprise your boss with bad news; nobody wants to let the boss know a mistake was made or a deadline won’t be met but hearing from someone else is much worse
  • Don’t criticize the boss or try to change them
  • Take 100% responsibility for your relationship

Win over your colleagues:

  • Be a team player; offer to assist a fellow team member for the greater good with no expectations of a returned favor
  • Be positive, friendly, kind, respectful and polite with everyone in the organization; please and thank you go a long way
  • Smiles are contagious; give yours away frequently
  • Get to know your colleagues on a professional level
  • Become increasingly open to new ideas and ways of doing things
  • Don’t say, “In school I learned …….” Or “In my last job, we did……” Nobody likes a know-it-all
  • Differ with others as you need to, but avoid being dogmatic
  • Everyone’s workload is increasing, so don’t waste people’s time by filling up email boxes with group email; send only when it’s useful to every recipient
  • Use the “reply all” button only when compiling results requiring collective input and only if you have something to add; nobody wants to read your individual response, “me too”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, “congratulations”, etc.
  • Don’t bad-mouth the ways things have been done
  • Save Facebook, Twitter, texts, phone calls and IMing your friends for lunch time or after hours

Set realistic first 90 day goals.

In reality, your first job probably won’t be as glamorous, as important, or as high level as you had imagined. Take charge of your learning and make the most of each experience. Set high expectations of your performance, and make a great first and lasting impression on everyone. You will grow professionally by gaining knowledge and experience. Additionally, when you do move on, don’t burn bridges. Not only is it unprofessional, but you never know when you will run into former colleagues in the future. After all, while this may be your first professional position, you will likely work for 10-15 companies in your lifetime.

For more information, please attend the First 90 Days workshop sponsored by Daniels Career Services, April 10 from 12-2pm, DCB 105. Please RSVP on Daniels Careers.


Susan Goodwin has seven years experience in career services and coaches graduate students in career development including job search techniques, networking, resume writing and interview preparation. Goodwin also creates and facilitates career service workshops and works with companies to promote graduate employment.