Why Your First Day Doesn't End Your Job Search

Last Updated May 5, 2011 5:09 PM EDT

During the course of the jobs shortage, I've been asked many times whether candidates should even bother negotiating an offer they've received. After all, with so many candidates to choose from, isn't the job seeker just one small side dish on the employment smorgasbord?

I see it differently: If you've managed to make it through a crowded field to entertain an offer, you've amply demonstrated your worth to the employer. Don't get greedy, but proceed into the negotiation phase with confidence.

There's a corollary to this guidance, however: Just because you're hired doesn't mean you've got the job locked up. Now's the time for you to prove that you can put your experience and skills into meaningful action -- especially in the first 90 days, a traditional probationary period for new hires.

In a pair of recent stories for TheLadders, Debra Donston-Miller looks at how to make the most of that three-month window.

Many companies have formal onboarding processes to bring new employees up to speed. Whether or not your new office has one, you should lay this groundwork yourself. Donston-Miller's piece "10 On Ramps to Successful Onboarding" provides a checklist of tips, including forging connections before your first day; articulating goals for your first 30, 60 and 90 days; and checking in regularly with your boss to see if you need to adjust your initial approach to the job.

Meanwhile, you need to employ a little sociology to make sure your establishing the right contacts at the beginning of your tenure. In "Build Relationships Early for Job Success," Donston-Miller explains that identifying the "go-to" people in the organization and approaching them for insights will jump-start your effectiveness.

Finally, try to listen more than you speak, especially at the beginning of your tenure. "Too many new employees fall into the trap of trying to prove their worth by offering unsolicited opinions or making odious comparisons to 'how we did it at my last job,' " Deirdre McEachern, a certified career coach at VIPCoaching, told Donston-Miller. "Employers and fellow employees want to know you are on their team now and that you are 100 percent committed. The best way to prove your worth is to be a focused listener to your teammates around you. "

  • Matthew TheLadders

    Matthew Rothenberg is editor-in-chief for TheLadders, the world's leading online service catering exclusively to the $100K+ job market. In addition to traditional job search services, TheLadders.com also provides a host of specialized career development resources. Previously he worked at Ziff Davis Media, ZDNet, CNET, and Hachette Filipacchi.