Surviving the first 90 days at a new job can be daunting. One needs to adjust to the culture and of the new company as well as complete the final interview process. This is called the probationary period.

This blog post provides 13 pointers that you should be mindful of as you start this new adventure. Hope these help you survive the first 90 days at your new job.

Research the Business Thoroughly

Preparation for the first 90 days begins the moment you sign the offer letter. Revisit your interview notes and compile a report of all the insight that you have gained from the interview. You should have asked essential questions to the job interviewer so the information you have gleaned will be useful.

One of the most critical interview questions what is the biggest challenge that you have that I can help with if selected. The response to this question is a fundamental starting point.

Visit the social media pages, website as well as newspaper articles to gain an overview of the business. These details will also give insight where the business is now and its mission.

Some companies also include snippets of their strategic plans on the website which can act as guides on what the priorities are of the business.

Meet the Manager

If possible try to schedule this during your first week.  Getting a handle of the business its requirements and what the expectations are needs to happen quickly. Request job profile and what is being accessed so that you can acclimatise quickly.

In addition, pay attention to key requirements of the role. Things that you should try to understand include:-

  • How does the staff communicate with each other? Is the mode of communication face to face, via telephone or via email?
  • What meetings are you required to attend? Is there a weekly meeting or daily meeting?
  • What reports if any are you required to produce? Are these monthly or weekly? Are there specific dates when these are due? Add these to your calendar.
  • Are there specific words or jargons that are used within the business or industry? What do these jargons mean?
  • Who are you required to work closely with? Are there any individuals that support the performance of your role?

I have completed an article on this blog on important questions that you must ask your new boss. You may find this article useful during your first 90 days.

Be Punctual

As you progress in the company, arriving later than the official time tend to be more appropriate. This will be less tolerated when you are just starting out. So be sure and be to be on time even if you leave work much later than the official end of day.

In addition, be punctual to all meetings as this shows that you respect other team members. Having a notebook to jot down key points always tend to make a good impression.

Be Professional

Adhere to any dress codes and professional rules of conduct as per the operational guidelines of the business.

Keep personal telephone calls to your lunch break or after hours as well as use of social media during working hours unless your job demands it.

Be Prepared to Put In Extra Hours

As much as the business may provide an orientation or training on the different areas of the business, be prepared put in extra hours. You will need to get up to speed quickly with the operations.

Depending on the nature of the business, the manager may provide you with information about its products and services.  Be willing to take the material and study its contents in your free time so that you can be versed in the business.

Ask around if there are any brochures, flyers or process manuals and whether your manager will approve you using the material at home in your spare time.  Usually point of sale material is public information.

Do Not Follow Practices of More Seasoned Employees

When you begin at the organisation you may interact with colleagues whose practices may deviate from those laid out in the company’s operational standards.

As an example, you may join a business where more seasoned employees take an extra 15 minutes lunch break. It is critical that while they are doing it and it appears as the manager approves of it that you do not follow these practices.

Seasoned employees may be able to deviate because of different factors that you may not be aware of. Suppose that person has worked weekends for several years when the company was in the launch phase.  The manager is aware of this and is hence relaxed with that person’s lunch break.

As a newcomer, comply with all the rules and regulations as outlined even though other colleagues are deviating from these practices.

Go the Extra Mile

Observe the different areas of the business and support with your various skillsets.

For example, if you join a company that supports the community through several corporate social responsibility programmes, be sure and contribute to these wherever you can.

Assist another colleague if you can help in that area as you may require some support in the future. This will help build your relationships with those around you.

Your boss will be impressed that you are contributing not only to your role but supporting other colleagues in attaining there goals.

Avoid Making Enemies

Try as hard as possible to keep a positive relationship with every colleague at all levels of the business. This is important as ultimately you cannot achieve anything on your own. 

You need the support of your team mates in order to get your task completed. In addition, you are the newcomer and you are trying to get your feet established at the firm. Making enemies could potentially make your time at the company short-lived.

 I recall from the book Long Walk to Freedom which is Nelson Mandela’s biography where he shared a story from his first job at a white law firm in Johannesburg. He shared an office with another black colleague, Gaur Radebe. The secretaries at the firm informed Mandela that there were two new cups assigned to him and his colleague.

His colleague at tea time drank from the older cups and encouraged Mandela to follow his lead. Mandela who did not want to stir up negative relationship and offend indicated that he was not thirsty. He opted not the follow his colleague nor to offend the secretaries.

Take Initiative

Take the initiative and add constructive feedback to different processes and systems of the business. Being the newcomer you have the advantage of being a fresh pair of eyes in the operations.

There may be things that a more seasoned person may take for granted. While taking initiative, be sure to make sure that you get buy in from the team and others around you. You do not to offend or criticise someone else’s hard work.

Manage your speech

Being critical of the business and senior managers is a definite no no. Also you may not know if you are being recorded especially in the age of technology. Ensure that you are careful of what you say and with whom you say it to.

Set Boundaries

Go the extra mile but also set boundaries on what you are and not willing to do. As an example, if your role requires you to be available via mobile phone in the event of an emergency on weekends, it is important to know what defines an emergency as this could be different for two individuals.

Is an emergency for example a fire at the office building? Would the scenario of if your manager is driving along the street and a poster was not removed at a particular spot last week?

It is necessary that you define these boundaries clearly upfront. This will ensure that you are not bombarded with “emergency” calls over the weekend.


Spend the first month at least listening a lot more than you talk as a lot of information could be acquired just by listening. Your colleagues could be sharing information which you can use to be aware of areas in the operations that require improvement which may fall under your responsibilities.

If you are receptive they may also be willing to show you the ropes which could make your adjustment period smoother.


While the probationary period is a time of assessment for the company, it is also a time of assessment for you.  Reflect on whether the job lived up to your expectation and whether the role aligns with your career vision.

I always believe to maintain sending out applications during a probationary period just in the event that the experience does not go exactly as you imagine. At least in this scenario, you have a backup plan.

There is another article called how to prepare for your first job review on this blog which you may find useful as you go through your first 90 days. Feel free to click the previous link to read.

Final Thoughts

With every new job comes a new challenge. Be willing and open to learn and share with your colleagues so that you can be an asset to the business and succeed at your first 90 days on the job.

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How To Survive The First 90 Days In A JOb

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