8 Tips for New Hires – Navigating New Terrain, Written by Melissa Kitchen M.Ed.

When starting a new position with a new company it is easy to focus only on job tasks and project expectations. But the “job” is only one part of your success. So much is going on around you that it can feel like you are in another country with a different culture, language and set of laws. A deciding factor of how well you will acclimate into this new “world” is how you handle things in tough times.

It is important to develop some key personal and professional skills and attitudes in order to bridge the transition to success. Consider me your tour guide to this new terrain as we explore the following highlighted skills in the next few weeks.

  1. Ask questions. It is okay not to know it all! As a mentor to new hires and interns I worry when my trainees don’t ask questions, check in, or clarify their next steps. You can’t possibly know what you don’t know. So ask!
  2. Be a listener. Listening is a challenge, especially when your brain is busy making connections, but this keys kill will help alleviate mistakes, foster relationships and help build your career. Being a listener is one of the best ways to show others you honor and appreciate them. Everyone loves someone who will truly listen to them. Try not to listen for the purpose of responding. Quiet your mind and truly hear the message. Then if needed, ask another question.
  3. Be present. When learning something new it is very easy to keep moving on to the next big thing, make connections, and shoot off in several directions. We are also in a world of work with several sources of instant information and communication that often distract us from what is important at the moment. One key skill that will take you far with building relationships, completing tasks in a timely manner, and alleviating mistakes is to be the act of being present. Focus on the here and now. Be wary of multi-tasking and focus on the people you are with.
  4. Speak with impeccability. Remember you’re new to this “country” and are just getting to know its inhabitants. Be very thoughtful with your words. Words have power. Take time to think before you speak. When in doubt align your words with your best intentions for yourself and others. Remember, it’s best to avoid gossip altogether.
  5. Utilize feedback constructively. Remember you can’t possibly know it all! You will make mistakes and receive feedback from others, but how you respond will make all the difference in the world. First, let go of the emotions and look for the learning. What is the lesson? Take some time to reflect without wallowing. Be gracious and use the information to improve. Do remember, though, that not all feedback is accurate, so be careful to consider the source.
  6. Keep your word. As you build relationships and take on new responsibilities, do not forget how strongly your actions will define you. Your co-workers will only know you from what they witness themselves or have heard from others. Be very thoughtful of the promises you make. Not following through on an agreement you make can have many consequences. You could lose trust and credibility with others which can take a very long time to repair.
  7. Build your relationships by acknowledging others. Acknowledgment is not the same as a compliment. When you truly acknowledge someone you are expressing appreciation for who they are and what they have done for you. The most authentic acknowledgments are timely, specific and real. They are gifts that go very far in building relationships in the workplace or in your personal life. If someone has touched your life or made a difference, let them know!
  8. Finally, the key to all of the actions above, take 100% responsibility for yourself.  Jim Rohn said, “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.” Give up excuses. Give up blaming. Give up complaining and own your mistakes. You decide how you view and respond to the events in your life.   You either create or allow everything that happens to you by how you define it. What will you create?


  1. Filipkowski, Jenna. “New Hire Momentum: Driving the Onboarding Experience”. Harvard Business Review, 2018. http://www.hci.org/hr-research/new-hire-momentum-driving-onboarding-experience
  2. “New Research on Onboarding and Employee Success”. Cognology, 2018. https://www.cognology.com.au/new-research-on-onboarding-and-employee-success/
  3. “How to Succeed in Your New Job: The First Week, Month and 90 Days”. Indeed, 2018. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/starting-new-job/new-job-guideShulsinger , Tamar.
  4. “7 Things You Should Do the First Week of a New Job”. Northeastern University, 2017 .https://www.northeastern.edu/graduate/blog/starting-a-new-job-advice/