Starting a New Job? Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes

Just landed a new gig? Congrats! Your stressful days of job searching and interviewing are over for now. But you have another big task ahead of you.

Your first few months in the office set the tone for your future at the company and relationship with your coworkers. While it’s important to jump into the action and prove you are right for the role, you may not realize you’re making a few crucial, but common, mistakes when starting a new job.

Making mistakes at work — especially when starting a new role — is par for the course. When you make a mistake at work, remember there’s a way to turn that misstep into a positive: Learn from it.

In our continuing quest to help both job seekers and the companies that hire them, Robert Half asked more than 400 executives to name the biggest mistake new employees make within their first 90 days on the job. Following is a list of the top responses and advice on how to avoid them. Whether you’re a new graduate just launching your career or a seasoned professional making a career move, take heed of this advice to develop a stellar reputation when you start a new job.

1. Failing to ask questions and clarify expectations

Not asking enough questions is viewed as the top mistake. No one expects you to know it all on day one. Learning the ropes of a new position is hard. That’s why you should not be embarrassed to ask things like, “What is the approval process for this initiative?” or even, “How do I set up my printer?”

Requesting clarification lets your boss and colleagues know you’re eager to learn and get things right, while also being confident enough to ask for help. While you don’t want to bother colleagues with endless requests for assistance, most will be happy to show you the ropes (after all, they were once new employees, too). So instead of keeping quiet or remaining in the dark about something, take initiative to get the scoop from a coworker or your manager when starting a new job.

2. Talking excessively about a previous job or company

The second biggest mistake noted in the survey cautions you to tread lightly when bringing up a past employer or project. Your new employer may not appreciate constant comparisons between your former and current position. Also, refrain from talking negatively about your old job, coworkers or boss — it’ll likely make people apprehensive about how you speak about them in the future. That being said, you don’t need to stifle your insights. If you can apply your experience at another organization to your new projects, share your thoughts freely — your expertise is a big part of why you were hired in the first place.

If you’re just beginning your job search, we can help:


3. Taking on too much work, too soon

A first impression is a lasting impression, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. When employees are starting a new job, many managers assign smaller tasks for a reason. It takes some time to familiarize yourself with a new company, colleagues and workload. At the beginning, it’s much better to focus on the work given to you (and do it well) than take on additional responsibility in an effort to impress your boss. Overextending yourself could lead to missed deadlines and mistakes. After you’ve met the whole team and understand your department’s and organization’s goals, you’ll be ready to dive into bigger, more challenging assignments.

4. Ignoring corporate culture

The hiring manager chose you because he or she thought you’d be a great fit for the company, not just the position. Make sure you catch onto the workplace culture and get involved. Does your department go out to lunch every Tuesday for tacos or celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries? How does your team brainstorm? Is the firm looking for volunteers to help organize an event? Sign up! By respecting unspoken rules and engaging in social activities, you’re letting your coworkers know you’re a team player and want to get to know them beyond email and project deadlines.

5. Keeping to yourself when starting a new job

We all know that starting a new job can be exciting, but it can also be intimidating. Some employees tend to bury their head in work and avoid interacting with others. While it may be nerve-racking to introduce yourself, it’s important to make the most of your first 90 days on the job and get to know your teammates and peers throughout the organization. You’ll be partnering with these people on many different projects, and research from Robert Half shows that professionals who are friends with their colleagues are happier with their jobs and enjoy their work more. So, take opportunities — like an office celebration or a simple chat in the break room — to learn more about your coworkers versus keeping to yourself.

Starting a new job off on the right foot can seem overwhelming. But by taking the time to observe the office dynamics and get to know your new colleagues, you’ll not only impress your manager with your experience and skills but also your motivation to excel and become a team player.