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How to Succeed in Your First 90 Days on the Job

Craig Zelizer

May 22, 2017

This blog is part of PCDNetwork’s career in change 2017 series. Click here for information on all the activities, webinars, blogs and ways to participate.

You have successfully memorized the LinkedIn profile of every coworker, splurged on some new clothes, and are currently sipping on a glass of wine to calm your nerves. It’s the night before your first day on a new job, and you may also be Googling tips for what to do during the first 90 days of your new job. First things first - CONGRATS! Hopefully you’ve taken a moment to enjoy hitting this milestone, whether it was switching companies or transitioning within your current company. My first piece of advice to anyone who is starting a new job and feeling anxiety come on is to not forget how far you’ve come and what you’ve achieved.

But what happens next? And what what should you do to make the most out of these next 90 days? Since it’s month five of PCDN’s career series, I want to share with you five tips for acing the first 90 days on your new job:

1. Find out what success means to your team/manager/company: One of the most important things to understand right off the bat is what success means for your specific role, for your team, and for your manager. A good place to start is understanding why you were hired in the first place - did the team need an extra pair of hands? Is your company expanding its offerings? Did it land a new client? Do they want to land a new client and are relying on your knowledge and research to make that happen? Whatever it may be, understand why you were hired, get a sense of the kind of timeline you’re working with for whatever projects are on deck, and ask your manager what success looks like for them. This will help you prioritize your time to maximize for the type of results that will be expected. Make it a goal to be able to fill out the following sentence: “My role is to help [the client/my team/my company] achieve [what you are trying to achieve] through [how you will achieve it]."

2. Find out what success means to you: Never forget that your job is not asymmetrical. If you show up every day and give a job your all, but don’t feel like your role or your company is providing things you need from a personal or professional standpoint, burnout and resentment will come on quickly. Ask yourself the following questions: What do I want out of this job? What am I hungry to learn? How can I leverage the institutional power of my company to advance myself professionally and while also providing value to the company? Next, think about your personal goals. Whether you took this job because you want to be the next person on Forbes 30 under 30 or you want a strict work-life balance to spend more time with family or because this salary will allow you to pay off your student loans… whatever it may be, understand what you need and shape your role with this in mind. Write down your “why” for being in this role and keep it somewhere visible as a constant reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing.

3. Build relationships early on: Within a week of starting, make it a point to shake hands and introduce yourself to everyone who is on your team and those you may be collaborating with inside the company. Set-up one-on-one coffee dates with as many people as possible, and use that time to ask questions and listen. What advice do they have? What do they wish they knew? Why are they in the role they’re in/why did they choose this company? Where do they need the most help, and how can you assist them? Be genuinely interested in what each person does and look for ways to provide value. This will be a great way to rapidly learn the ins and outs of how your team/company works and to vocalize your own desires and things you’re interested in so that when opportunity arises, your name will be top of mind.

4. Be solution-oriented: There’s nothing like starting a new job and having fresh eyes to identify things that are missing or could be improved upon. As you get onboarded, look out for systems that could be documented, ways that processes could be more efficient, or creative solutions for hitting goals. As a manager, one of the most frustrating things is an employee who points out problems or companies about something without offering a solution. And there’s nothing a manager loves more than a person who sees that problem, but also offers a solution and is action-oriented. This advice is especially important for anyone reading this who is just starting their career: make it a rule to never, ever complain or point out a problem unless you also can bring forward a solution (yes, it was worth repeating that again).

5. Do not neglect your self-care: My business partner and I have a rule we call S.C.R.E.A.M.: Self-Care Rules Everything Around Me (hat tip to Wu Tang, of course). It’s easy in the first 90 days to go all out, put in the extra hours and come in on weekends, but be careful. The habits and routines and expectations you set in the first 90 days will be hard for you to change and for others to adapt to if you suddenly stop being the first one in the office. Once you set a precedent for answering emails at all hours or taking on grunt work that no one else wants to do, the bar is set (yes, under promise and over deliver is cliche but true advice). At the end of the day, you have to take care of yourself. Beyond keeping a sustainable schedule, make a list of the ways you want to reward yourself AND the daily things you need to feel sane. Are slow mornings important to you? Getting 8 hours of sleep? Being able to take a walk and sip a coffee after lunch? Self-care isn’t just about Netflix binging on the weekends, it’s about all the ways you take care of yourself and find harmony and happiness in the day to day. This is especially important in the first 90 days, when there is bound to be discomfort and moments that will require you to be vulnerable. Be intentional about taking care of yourself. The happier you are and the clearer you are with what you need, the better you will perform in your job.


These five items are the things I wish I knew early on, and what I wish my new hires were aware of when I became a manager, but this list is by no means exhaustive or right for every type of new role. The more you understand yourself, your company and your team, the better off you’ll be for understanding how to make the most of the first 90 days and beyond. And don’t forget - while your employer may have you on a trial period in the first 90 days, you should also think of this as a trial run for yourself. Evaluate the company and your role critically, and don’t be afraid to speak up or, if necessary, to leave if it turns out this isn’t the right fit for you. The worst thing you can do is stay in a situation that isn’t ideal, especially if you’re fortunate enough to have other options on the table.

Take a deep breath, strike a power pose and know that you’ve got this - because you totally do. I’ll be cheering you on.


Jennie is an entrepreneur, podcast addict and nomad. When she’s not working with clients to build scalable and socially conscious businesses, you can find her traveling the world and documenting her adventures on Instagram.




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