After you've survived your first day, concentrate on building good relationships within your team. These are the people who can help you establish yourself, flag up any potential landmines and answer your questions. Don't forget that this is a two-way process. Look for opportunities to return the favour. Your first network may prove invaluable as you move up the career ladder.
Know what is expected of you. Don't waste valuable energy doing something that isn't seen as important. Find out what your job really is – this might be different from what you read on the job spec, which may not have been updated for years. What are your goals? How will your performance be measured and how will your reviews be handled?
If there's anything you're not sure about, ask. Don't leave it until you're sinking. Your boss will be pleased to direct your work in the early days, but is likely to have less patience six months down the line. Start as you mean to go on - in the right direction.
What if it's your first job?
Then you're going to be learning fast. Time management is going to be one of the key things. Try never to miss a deadline. If it looks like you might, alert your boss in advance and say why. Don't get buried under the workload and fall at the first hurdle. If you feel a deadline is unrealistic when it is set, say so.
In the early days, you're no threat to anyone, so your colleagues will tend to be generous with their time and knowledge. As your job takes shape, plan your tasks and objectives on an hourly, daily and weekly basis and stick to them. Never underestimate the value of careful planning. So much is going to be happening that you are certain to forget something if you don't write it down.
Setting the boundaries
When you start a new job, you need to know what your sphere of influence is and how far your responsibilities extend. This is not to find out how little you can get away with, but how much chance you have to shine. To do this, you need to know the:
- parameters and main objectives of your job
- priorities and the proportion of your time that should be given to each task
- limits of your responsibilities
- expectations of your superiors and colleagues
- kind of feedback you will receive from superiors
- way your job fits within the team structure
- limits of your authority
- resources you will have in terms of people, money, products and services
Get known for the right reasons
Network with the right people and join in with social events, even if it's just a drink or two after work. The competitive work environment means you need every advantage you can get - there's no point being bright and good at your job if no one knows who you are. So keep good email contact with your boss and ‘cc' work to the relevant people when appropriate. You want to make sure they know where the great work is coming from.
Take a view. Are you in this to be the best you can be, or looking for an easy ride? Hopefully the former. Make a complete commitment to your new role, and throw yourself into it. Leave the clock watching to others, and grab every opportunity to shine. Volunteer for tasks no one else wants, as long as they don't intrude on your main responsibilities. Always look to add value to anything you do, and get a reputation for your ‘can do' attitude. When your final probation review comes around, make sure your work record makes this a formality.