4 Mistakes to Avoid During Your First 90 Days on the Job

Enter the HOW International Design Awards today! Deadline: August 14, 2017

Thanks to an impressive digital portfolio and stellar interview, you’ve landed the creative job of your dreams. Now you can rest easy, right? Not so fast. As the new hire, your boss and colleagues are watching — to see if you have the work ethic, collegiality and design chops to really fit in. It’s crucial you make a strong positive impression and avoid missteps in the first few months on the job.

Image by Juj Winn, from Getty 

Recent research by The Creative Group sheds light on what marketing and advertising executives feel are the top mistakes employees make during these crucial first 90 days. Here are the four biggest mistakes to avoid, along with advice on how to put your best foot forward in your new job.

Mistake #1: Staying quiet.

Of the executives who responded to our survey, 43 percent said a failure to ask questions and clarify expectations is the biggest error employees make when starting a position. It’s understandable. New hires may worry about coming across as inexperienced or uninformed, and instead try to figure things out on their own. This misguided independence could result in misunderstandings, faux pas and even costly mistakes.

The fix: Figuring out a new workplace culture requires observing and speaking up. During the first few months on the job, you have the leeway to ask plenty of questions. Doing so doesn’t make you look like an amateur; it simply demonstrates you want to do things right. So don’t be shy about asking for assistance or clarification as you begin your new job.

[Related: How Mistakes Can Work to Your Advantage in the Creative Process | Rescuing Design Mistakes: How to Turn Oops Into Oomph]

Mistake #2: Dwelling in the past.

It’s natural to compare your current job with a previous role, but there are limits. According to 22 percent of survey respondents, talking excessively about a previous job or company is the biggest mistake new hires make. While your past work experiences undoubtedly shaped your career and design style, your current boss and colleagues are more interested in looking forward than back.

The fix: It’s fine to use examples from your previous jobs. In fact, your work history is one of the reasons you were hired. But be careful when making comparisons. In general, bring up former employers and past projects only when asked, or if mentioning them is relevant to the conversation. Also, no matter how much you hated your last boss or teammates, don’t bad-mouth anyone. You don’t want to come across as being negative or unprofessional

Mistake #3: Overloading yourself.

Taking on too much work too soon is a mistake many new employees make. While you naturally want to prove yourself and impress your manager during the first 90 days, the workaholic lifestyle can quickly lead to burnout and unrealistic expectations.

The fix: As you begin your job, do give it your all and over-deliver. At the same time, pace yourself and don’t sacrifice your work-life balance. The first few months is a learning period, and proving yourself shouldn’t require burning the midnight oil. So don’t volunteer for every project that comes your way. And if you’re asked to take on more than you can reasonably handle, thank your boss or colleagues for their confidence in you, but be assertive enough to raise your hand for help.

Mistake #4: Being a loner.

A design agency or department is a collaborative place, and teamwork is a key ingredient of a creative environment. Keeping to yourself is no way to learn the job, make a good impression or get ahead.

The fix: Express an interest in your coworkers. Asking questions and making small talk is a good start. When invited to go out for coffee or lunch, take people up on the offer. And attend those after-hour social events — even if you’re an introvert, and especially during your initial 90 days.

Starting a new job can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. Make sure your first impressions in the office are great ones by avoiding the mistakes above, and you’ll establish an excellent rapport with your new manager and colleagues.

An online course from HOW Design University: