Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Starting a new job, Building a new foundation – part 10 and building a foundation for advancement

Posted in job search and career development by Timothy Platt on June 28, 2010

You have just started a new job and possibly after undergoing a long and difficult search. You are just settling into this position and are still learning your way around in it and with your new employer. You have only recently met the other members of your team and you are still meeting and getting to know your internal clients and the people who you depend upon for succeeding at your job. You are still in that probationary period. And yes, this is when you should start thinking ahead as this entire series on starting a new job (see postings 73 through 81 in the Guide) and the Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development as a whole are not about single jobs or the steps in landing or starting them. This is all about building a career in which specific jobs and positions held are simply the steps taken. So your probationary period is the time to build a solid foundation for moving forward with your new position at your new company, but this is also the time to establish yourself in this job with a strategic and longer term eye on your career as a whole and on advancing in it.

I would propose an exercise here to bring this into focus, and I offer it here as this is where you are in a better position to make reality checks comparing job expectations to emerging job realities, with the challenges and responsibilities and opportunities that this real job offers you.

• What are you doing and coming to do at this new job and with what levels of responsibility and oversight from your supervisor?
• What opportunities are emerging for professional growth and both in your hands-on skills and in your skills and experience managing others?
• What are your longer term goals and where do you ideally see yourself professionally in one year and in five?
• What skills and experience would you need to reach these goals?
• What can you do today and this week and through this business quarter that will help you take even just a tiny little incremental step towards reaching these goals?
• This is all about knowing and charting a path forward from where you are now, toward where you wish to go.

I would recommend reviewing these and any similar questions you come up with that would support this understanding, and on an ongoing basis. Write down your answers and track how they come into focus and on how your focus and your one and five year goals change – and on how effectively you are moving towards reaching them.

This is an exercise you should repeat at least once a quarter, and I recommend that you review it in detail and both for your current answers and for your previous answers as a part of your preparation for any performance review. Yes, that includes the performance review you will face at the end of your probationary period.

Then after these performance reviews take the feedback you have just received and use that as a reality check in evaluating where you are and where you are professionally headed. Here, the overtly positive feedback on how you are performing at or above expectations in certain areas may be nice but any negative seeming feedback outlining where you have room for improvement is invaluable. This offers insight on where you can develop opportunity for taking those career steps you envision.

I am going to post separately on the performance review at the end of your probationary period but I wanted to preemptively raise this here as well, and as a matter of preparation for it through focused performance on the job in that probationary period. Yes, this is all about this job as your career is about how well you perform and how much value you create on a day to day basis in each of the jobs you successively hold. But this has to be all about career and that larger pattern of work history too, actualized, current and potential.

My next posting in this series is going to take a look at strategy and prioritization in your employer’s business and how they impact on you and your new job, and as you develop and advance your career through it.

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