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The First 90 Days Can Change Your Career – 8 Ways to Make It (or Break It)

stock_businesswoman9The first 90 days of any job can mean everything. They can be the difference between a quick, linear path to a seat on the board of directors or years stuck in cubicle world, lunching at your desk, toiling for little reward.

So know this: Your job starts before you even report to work. The first 90 days is prime time to take advantage of fresh opportunities. It may be daunting, but many already know it’s worth the extra effort.

8 Ways to Make it (or Break It!)

1.  Do homework.
Work toward the goals you want to accomplish before your first day. Use the Internet to research your company and your industry. Identify the key players; know names of chief officers and their history with the company. By the time you arrive, you should have a good idea of how you can help your new employer.

2.  Do establish a wide network.
Don’t just talk to people within your business who can help you. Your network should include a mentor with clout in your company and people in other companies you can call on now and for future projects.

3.  Do go above and beyond.
Be ready for long days, taking on multiple projects while still executing your primary roles. “One individual who took over a financial company wanted to show she cared about people and profits,” says Dee Soder, Ph.D., founder of The CEO Perspective Group. “She visited every branch office and gave a speech in the first two weeks. It showed she cared.”

4.  Do make a good first impression.
Work on your speaking, communication skills and overall body language. If you’re not comfortable with smiling or shaking hands, practice. Appearance matters, so make sure you look fresh and that what you’re wearing says the right things.

5.  Don’t just wing it.
You need to know why you’re at your new job, what you hope to accomplish and how to convey your message. “You should be able to articulate on the back of a business card what’s different about you, what value-added things you can bring, why you’re needed,” says author Catherine Kaputa.

6.  Don’t just sit at your desk.
Even if you’re doing great work, you’re not going to make an impression on the key players if you stare at your computer screen all the time. Talk to people all over the company and make a solid impression in both formal meetings and casual discussions.

7.  Don’t gossip.
While you will want to make friends and get to know your environment, be careful not to gossip because you might be spreading misinformation. It’s also unprofessional. Instead, take notes on others, form impressions and, for the most part, keep them to yourself.

8.  Don’t criticize former employers.
“That’s a huge mistake people make all the time,” says CEO Laurel Touby. “They think, ‘Now I’m with my new friends and I have to impress them; I’ll seem loyal by talking about my old job.’ All it does is make people think, ‘What is she going to say about us?”

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