Making a Great Impression After You Land the Job

By Carey Con, HR Leader & Career Coach


After working hard to land a new job, some people make the mistake of resting on their heels once they get into a new role. The first 90 days of a job are the proving ground for your entire future with your new employer. It’s critical to continue to focus your energy on making a positive impression with your new coworkers as you start your role, validating that they hired the right person to join their team.

When you were going for interviews, each company you interviewed with was trying to determine two things with each candidate:

As a new employee, you have a chance to prove them right for hiring you, thereby securing your role. Below are a few helpful tips on how you can demonstrate your competence and ability to fit in.

  1. Look for low-hanging fruit where you can chalk up a few quick wins – Quick wins provide reinforcement to the company that they made the right hiring decision. For example, if you have worked on a project in the past that your new company is embarking on for the first time, you can offer suggestions on what pitfalls to avoid based on your past experience.
  2. Always show up on time. Be aware that team members notice the stragglers that are always the last to arrive in the morning and for scheduled meetings.
  3. Listen more than talk. Even if you have a vast amount of experience in a certain area, your new company may have valid business reasons for their processes or approaches that may differ from what you are accustomed to. Take the time to fully understand why they do things a certain way before suggesting an approach that may make things more efficient or obtain better results. Once you have a full picture, that is the time to offer alternatives if needed.
  4. Create a 90-day plan. If the company does not have a well-defined on-boarding and training plan to get you up to speed in your role, draft one yourself and get feedback from your leader to ensure you are both on the same page and schedule a meeting every 2 to 3 weeks to confirm you are aligned and working towards the same objectives and milestones. If you do this consistently you should always know how well you are progressing and there won’t be any surprises, which is important for any new employee.
  5. Start building relationships early. Start with a list of the people that you will be working with the most, check their schedules and start introducing yourself to them. Ideally, try to meet them in-person when you know they are not scheduled for a different meeting.
  6. Finally, if you screw up, own it immediately. New employees are expected to make a few newcomer mistakes as part of learning a new role so organizations often cut them some slack, especially if you point out your error up front rather than having the company discover it after the fact and having to correct it retroactively (this is good advice no matter how long you have worked somewhere).

To illustrate this last point, several years ago I led the HR team for a multinational oilfield services firm which regularly rotated managers to various parts of the world to develop their leadership skills. During this time, the President went on a road trip with a new executive who had just transferred in to take on a senior leadership role.

A couple of days later I received an urgent letter from the field hotel where the executives were staying. The letter stated that due to considerable damage caused by one of our staff, the hotel would no longer do business with our company. I was shocked – I knew that it was critical to maintain the relationship with the hotel because we had several staff who regularly stayed at the hotel.

I called the manager to resolve the situation. She told me a bizarre story of how one of their hotel rooms was damaged. During the middle of the night, the front desk received an anonymous call informing them of damage to a room. Upon investigation, the flatscreen TV in the room was no longer working because the guest had smashed it with the lid of the toilet tank.


There was a popular prank circulating around the field crews at that time. Pranksters would wait until the middle of the night, call a hotel, and ask for a random room number. The prankster would scream at the person and tell them that they had to smash the TV because there was poisonous gas escaping from it. Our new executive was the unfortunate recipient of one of these prank calls. Half-asleep, he smashed the TV screen. Once he woke up enough to realize what he had done, he got dressed and went down to the lobby to pay for the damage. He assumed that if he paid for the damage personally, the incident would not get back to the company. Unfortunately, he did not anticipate that the hotel manager would contact us and ban both the employee as well as our company from the hotel because they “didn’t have enough TV sets.”  In the end, after careful relationship rebuilding, we were able to come to an agreement to continue partnering with the hotel.   This employee made a lasting impression, but not one that he’d intended.


The moral of the story is that if you screw up, don’t try to sweep it under the rug. You will make a much better impression by being honest and upfront.

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