by Chad Broadus

The old saying is true: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. So early on, you want to establish yourself as a valuable asset. How do you do it? We asked a group of candidates and hiring managers to share what they think works in helping new hires hit the ground running.

Hit the Ground RunningThe Residency

Much akin to the medical residency doctors go through, the tech residency strategy has the new employee coming in early and maybe even staying a little late to soak up as much of the new environment as possible.  IT Manager Shaun Simpson likes to see new hires put in a little extra effort in the initial weeks. "By coming early or doing little extras, they show they're eager to make a difference and do their best," he says. "Spending time becoming familiar with the new culture, the way things are done here, who they work with, and learning their new responsibilities can be quite a bit of work, so spending extra time and effort will really help get things off to a good start."

Go Native

Brandon Smith, a test engineer for Time Warner Cable, also likes the total immersion strategy of the tech residency. However, he thinks that developing personal relationships is also important.  "My main focus for the first month is reading the characters of my coworkers and laying the foundation for good relationships," he says. "I tend to work better with people when I can relate to them on a more personal level. Having a good idea of whom you can depend upon can make a huge difference in the execution and completion of projects."  

No Such Thing as a Dumb Question

Justice Systems Chief Technology Officer Jim Mortensen puts a high value on new hires who are willing to ask the right questions. "As a hiring manager, I like to see a new recruit ask a lot of questions of other staff members and their manager," he says. "New hires often seem reluctant to ask questions, thinking it's a sign of weakness if they can't figure everything out on their own. To hit the ground running as fast as possible, a new recruit must ask questions and get help from others. It takes too long for even the most capable recruit to try and figure out everything on their own. As a manager, I learn a lot about our organization's weaknesses by the type of questions new recruits ask. Before they are fully assimilated into the corporate Borg, they bring an untainted perspective of our organization's structure and processes."

Don't Overdo It

There's a fine line between peak performance and over doing it, though. If you pursue the total immersion strategy of the tech residency, make sure you explain your plan to your supervisor, and be sure to communicate this is only a temporary surge of activity to get well established.  You don't want to set expectations that you'll be working a lot of extra hours each and every week. You also don't want to raise any flags that you may be a risk for burnout.

Watch Out For Number One

Alexa Haass, a senior project manager at Project Leadership Associates, suggests that, in addition to focusing on the job itself, make sure to also take care of yourself. "For me, I take great care of myself with exercise and plenty of rest. Basically, I go to my happy Zen place and de-stress," she says. "There's nothing worse than getting sick when you start a new job. When I step into my new work place, I want to be healthy and ready to work." 

By following these battle tested strategies, you'll be the bright new kid on the block who really hit the ground running, and whose corporate trajectory has already been established in a skyward arc.

As always, let us know how these work for you, or if you have some gems of your own, by adding to the comments below.

Chad Broadus is a tech professional who lives and works in the Pacific Northwest.