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What to Accomplish in the First Year of a New Job

by Thomas Metcalf, studioD

Your first year on the job -- maybe in your first career job -- can certainly be a stressful time. How you fit into your employer’s culture and how you grow professionally will determine your success in the years that follow. To make your first year productive, approach it with enthusiasm -- your success is riding on this.

The First Ninety Days

Since a 90-day probationary period is customary, you must create a positive impression. First impressions are lasting ones, and you must make sure that the ones you create are strong. There may be a honeymoon period, but if it still exists, it is much shorter. Set goals for yourself that are higher than the boss's expectations. Ask for and schedule regular one-on-one meetings with your boss. They need not be long -- just enough for you to be sure that you are on track and for your boss to see that you are committed to doing a first-rate job.

Establishing Good Habits

The good habits that you establish will serve you well in the days and years ahead. Make a point of being on time -- or better yet, being a few minutes early -- to work in the morning and to meetings. Learn other functions in the company besides what you and your department do. Not only will this make you more effective in your work, you will position yourself as an up-and-coming employee. The more you know, the more respect you will earn from co-workers and upper management. Learn why things work the way they do, not just how they work. Doing favors for others will create goodwill and bolster your reputation. Keep a journal of what you do -- it's a record of your professional growth and documentation of your achievements. It may be handy when evaluation time arrives.

Managing Your Boss

There is an unspoken bullet point in your job description, and that is to make your boss look good. He is the person who hired you and you want to demonstrate that he made a good decision. Do what you can do to make his job easier. Begin by learning his management style. He may delegate responsibility or he may micromanage. You need to understand his hot buttons -- those things that will set him off. Learn how he handles conflict management. As you work through the first year you will be defining your informal role in the company. Your good relationship with the boss will earn you good performance evaluations and advancement.


Networking begins the first day on the job and continues for the rest of your professional life. Begin by getting to know others in your company, including management, co-workers -- those with some experience-- and your peers -- anyone else who is fairly new on the job. Your peers will be your contemporaries as you grow professionally, while the co-workers represent the establishment in the organization. You will find out who you can go to for answers and assistance. While you should network with all, be cautious about who you become close to. All types of personalities are around, and you will be known by the company you keep.

About the Author

Thomas Metcalf has worked as an economist, stockbroker and technology salesman. A writer since 1997, he has written a monthly column for "Life Association News," authored several books and contributed to national publications such as the History Channel's "HISTORY Magazine." Metcalf holds a master's degree in economics from Tufts University.

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