Gary Burnison is CEO of Korn Ferry. He is the author of Advance: The Ultimate How-To Guide for Your Career and Lose the Resume, Land the Job. For more information, see KFAdvance.com.
Once you land that new job, it’s time to think about the next one.
If your reaction to that is “Wait—what?” understand that I’m not suggesting you jump right back into the job-hunting fray. You’re not looking to make a change immediately.
But after going through a successful job-search process—polishing your resume, targeting your opportunities, networking to get a warm introduction, and making a connection in the interview process—why would you want those skills to go to waste?
In your new job, you can leverage these skills—especially networking within your new department or organization. Plus, there’s no better way to advance in your career than by distinguishing yourself in your brand-new position.
Here’s what you can do:
- Don’t lose momentum. After all the hard work that went into getting a new job, you might be tempted to kick back, take some time off, and even squeeze in a vacation between leaving your old job and starting the next one. While that’s all well and good, you don’t want to lose your focus. You want to hit the ground running—the first 30 days are going to be crucial. You want to prove your value, make a fast contribution, and confirm in your boss’s mind that hiring you really was a great decision.
- Keep doing your homework. During the job search, you learned all you could about the company—its culture, its products, new markets, competitors, and so forth. Now that you’ve been hired, take a deeper dive. Learn all you can about the company’s structure, financials, and latest developments. Contact your new boss to find out if there is anything you should be studying. Most important, keep up with the news. You don’t want to be blindsided by something that everyone knows but you. “What do you mean she’s not the CEO anymore?” is not a question you want to ask on your first day.
- Dress for first-day success. You may have dressed up for your interviews, but now you want to make sure you fit in with your new colleagues. Do another culture check—there could be significant differences within the company. For example, are you starting work in a satellite office where khakis are more often the norm? Or are you having meetings at the corporate headquarters where dress tends to be more formal? When in doubt, ask HR or your hiring manager. A quick email now can save you embarrassment later.
- Be indispensable—right out of the gate. You’ve heard me say it before: you need to be indispensable, especially to your boss. When you’re starting a new job, it’s more crucial than ever. Make your mark quickly by showcasing expertise that’s valuable to your team and in your company. How? By offering to help others. As you settle in and establish regular check-ins with your boss, focus on what needs to be done—and how you are the one to take it on.
- Learn all you can. Be a learn-it-all. The number one reason to take a new job is for the opportunity to learn. By expanding your knowledge and skills, you’re positioning yourself for the future. In fact, if you approach every task, assignment, and challenge as a learning opportunity, you’ll not only expand what you know, you’ll also distinguish yourself for having a can-do attitude.
- Take the high road. All the eyes are on you as the new person. Therefore, you must manage how you come across to others. A few simple, but powerful, rules apply here: Don’t engage in watercooler gossip or talk poorly of others. Don’t sap people’s energy with complaints; energize them with ideas. Be all in, all the time with your performance. Do more than you say you’ll do.
As you make your mark in your new job, you’ll position yourself for what comes next. And it may happen more quickly than you think, especially in this era of the career nomad. After all, the best time to find a new job is when you already have one. That’s why your new job may be the start of even greater things to come.