How to Be Successful in a New Job – Your FIRST 90 DAYS!

PACE Staffing jobsStarting a New Job?  Here are SIX Ways to Put Yourself on the RIGHT TRACK!

PACE bloggers comment frequently on how to find that “just right job”…but what may be even more important are all the how-tos of making your mark once you’ve landed the job and are beginning work.

We know that the way a new employee handles their first 90 days on a new job are critically important to what we refer to as “placement success.”  Those first 90 days sets the stage for how you want to be viewed in the future – by your boss, by your teammates.

And while you may not be in a formal probationary period per se, many employers view the first 90 days as an “audition” – meaning if they determine they’ve made a hiring mistake, they want to correct that mistake before the end of 90 days.  (Yes, even after you land that “just right job” there are no guarantees you will be successful in your new role!)

Because we talk to hundreds of employers each year after they’ve hired a PACE candidate, we wanted to share some of the comments we hear most often from employers talking about the employees they’ve hired in that first 90 days.  Some of these comments may surprise you but may provide valuable insights into how employees will be evaluating your work early in your employment.

That Fine Line between CONFIDENCE and HUMILITY!   

  • “I’m concerned that Travis just doesn’t know what he needs know, and isn’t asking enough questions. He rarely interacts with others who do know so I’m concerned he isn’t putting himself in a positon to learn what he needs to learn.” 
  • “Maggie is doing great! She is always asking questions and challenging us to explain the whys behind the “whats”, which makes us a better team.  Even though she is very seasoned in a lot of what we do, she never assumes she knows it all.”
  • “Laura’s strength is her confidence, but it’s also her weakness. She isn’t reaching out for help when she needs it and is making unnecessary mistakes because of it.”

The Lesson?  Confidence is often a key trait for employees in new jobs or talented employees focused on advancing their careers.  That said, trying to be the smartest person on the team, or pretending to know things you don’t, will often work against you – particularly when you are new.

Being realistic regarding the limits of what you know and don’t know is actually a much more important quality than you may think, and for your employer, it speaks to your maturity (no matter how old you are) and your openness to learn something new.

Staying humble, getting curious, finding a seasoned mentor who you can go to when you have questions – are key to early excellent on-the-job performance.  Confidence and humility are both important – but need to go hand in hand.

MISTAKES Happen.  Make Them Matter…   

  • “I really like the way Mary is learning her job.  She has the initiative I am looking for and is not afraid to make a mistake!” 
  • “John is starting to be a problem. When he makes mistakes he tends to bury them from me and his teammates, which is a problem as then we get blindsided.   I am having issues trusting him to give me the information I need.”
  • “Sarah has been really good about learning from each mistake she makes. She always comes to me with a solution – something different she will do next time.”

The Lesson?   Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  In some jobs mistakes are important to learning what you need to know – early and often.

Most importantly, bring your mistakes to your boss quickly.  Most bosses will expect you to make mistakes and will be looking not for IF you made them, but how you deal with them once made.

Showing that you are willing to be accountable without excuse-making or blame,  is key to earning the trust you need with your boss and others.

When Work Gets HOT, Keep Your COOL…   

  • “I love that Alisha never gets stressed when there is a lot to do.  I know I can count on her to deliver the results we need.”
  • “I am concerned about Tom. He always looks so busy, which I suspect he is, but I find myself giving the more interesting assignments to Alisha, because Tom doesn’t look like he can take on more.” 

The lesson?  While looking busy seems like the ”thing to do”, how you respond  when work gets particularly busy or challenging  matters.  No matter how busy you are, or how many problems on your plate, looking frazzled or overwhelmed is not the way you want to look if your goal is to get noticed as a go-to.

And if the work load is especially busy, or you run into challenges you don’t know how to deal with, don’t be afraid to take work home (if that’s allowed), do research or planning outside regular work hours.  You need to do what it takes to keep your head above water to make the right first impression.

No one climbed the career ladder watching a time clock or viewing their job as 8-5.  To make a difference you have to deliver the results your boss needs, regardless of how busy you are.

Say “YES” When Others Won’t or Don’t …

  • “Ed has been a real asset to our group. He has taken on work that everyone else was avoiding.  The result is that he has raised the bar on what we all thought was possible.  I can’t tell you how important that is for our team.”
    • “Something I really like about Conner is that after his first week he came to my office to see if there was work on my desk that I didn’t like doing and asked if he could do those things for me. Wow, I was blown away and of course gave him some of the things that I hate dong.  He’s really making a difference!”      

The lesson?  Getting yourself noticed in business or as an employee often requires you to do things that others won’t or don’t – setting yourself apart by working harder and/or differently than others.

No matter where you are in your career, finding a way to “make a difference” by tackling your job in ways that others don’t think possible, will always get you noticed.

Don’t Choose Between RELATIONSHIPS and RESULTS…

  • “Emily has built some very strong relationships on our team. Everyone loves working with her and it is making a huge difference in how the team is performing, over all.”
  • “Stacey is incredibly smart and capable. She has all the skills we were looking for, but her relationships with others on the team are starting to look problematic.  She’s not good at sharing information the team needs, and it’s starting to impact our overall productivity.   I may need to let her go.” 

The lesson? Never assume that your smarts, experience or skills is the only thing that matters.  To advance your career, you will need to add to your toolkit the ability to create and develop your relationships with others.   Find someone to go to lunch with each day – get to know them up close and personal.

In the end, how the people on your team, not just your boss, experience you as a team member, matters.

ATTENDANCE Matters – No Matter What…

“I’m afraid I am going to have to let Roger go.  He’s had 5 unexpected absences since he started 3 months ago and some of his absences were for the reasons that just don’t stack up against our expectations of what it means to be fully committed to the role.”

“I know that Marla is having some health problems that are legitimately keeping her from work, but I am concerned now that she doesn’t have the mental and physical stamina to do this job.” 

The lesson?  No matter how far up the career ladder you are, missing work during your first 90 days of employment for any reason other than a serious and unforeseen health or family issue, is not good.

To be protected under FMLA regulations, you must have worked for your employer 1250 hours or more, so absences even for health related issues in the first 90 days are going to be subject to close scrutiny.  If your employer believes you are missing work for frivolous or unwarranted reasons, you run the risk of either damaging your relationship with your employer or perhaps worse, being terminated.

If you should become ill in your first 90 days, try not to be out for full days or arrange to do some work from home to demonstrate your commitment to give your new job your best.

And take care of yourself proactively so you keep unnecessary illnesses to a minimum.

If you get to a place where due to illness or some other unforeseen issue, you will be away from work for extended periods – you may need to negotiate with your employer about the best way to proceed.  If you are dealing with something that will seriously impact your ability to do your job, it may be better to resign than run the risk of being terminated.


Employees start new jobs for multiple reasons – they’ve moved, they want to work closer to home, they are looking to advance  their career, or just want a change.  Whatever the reason for your new job, it’s important to put your best foot forward.  While job hopping doesn’t have the same stigma it did a short decade ago, how you perform in each job you take, impacts  how easy or difficult it is to get your next job, and how easy or difficult it will be for you to build your career! 

We hope these ideas help to get your new job off to the right start!  If you’d like help finding your next job or making your next career move, give us a call!  We’re here to help.  You can call our Candidate Services team at 425-637-3311 or email us at



Join Our Job Seeker Network!

You'll receive emails from our Candidate Services team about hot job opportunities plus job search tips & trends!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Check Out Other Blogs on Related Topics…