In today’s transient job market, it’s not uncommon for people, especially ones just beginning their career, to want to switch jobs. In 2016, employee turnover was as high as 50 percent for employees 24 and under. Job switchers have an incentive to leave one job for another, as they increased their wages by an average of 5.2 percent according to Q1 2017 data from the ADP Workforce Vitality Report.
Changing jobs frequently puts pressure on HR to onboard new employees successfully and efficiently. Though HR professionals are certainly invested in crafting onboarding into the best experience for you, there are also clear ways you can self-onboard to distinguish yourself when entering a new job. Self-onboarding, or taking initiative from the outset of entering a new company and a new position, can help you make an immediate difference and create a lasting impression that will serve you well into the future. It starts with the interview and continues months after beginning the job. Here’s how to proactively take charge of your success.
Pre-Start Date: The Interview Process
Self-onboarding can really begin in the interview process. Your resume is already vetted and you’ve already talked to a member of HR, so now your potential future boss and team are interviewing you to see if you’re a culture fit, and confirm whether you can successfully perform the job requirements. You can be proactive before each interview by coming with in-depth, intelligent questions showing you know about and are genuinely interested in the company. For example, you can ask, “Congratulations on receiving new funding! How do you plan to use the money?” or “I saw that you won a big award recently. How did your team come up with the concept?”
Make an effort to meet everyone on the team, even requesting an opportunity to meet those you haven’t interviewed with before a decision is made. If that’s not a possibility, or you gauge that such a request would be too forward, reaching out via email is a good alternative. Email everyone on the team to express your excitement about the possibility of meeting them and working with them in the future. Such proactivity may seem unnerving, but it could set you apart as a top candidate. What’s more, when you do land the position, you’ll be that much more prepared to hit the ground running.
From Day 1: Deliver Great Work
What can you do to ensure your team members feel they hired the right person? Provide value right away. Fulfill your assignments in a timely manner, deliver accurate work and give more than expected. Find ways to rally around a shared vision of the company with your coworkers and help solve problems. Ask your team lead what the main vision and goal is of the specific team and the company, write it down on a sticky note next to your computer and refer to that note to make sure your work leads to that goal. Delivering meaningful work from the start will set you apart and establish a positive reputation. Self-onboarding is deciding to immediately engage in your team, your work and your company, rather than coasting the first few weeks on the job. And those who deliberately engage are much more productive and add much more value, according to O.C. Tanner Institute research.
The First Few Weeks: The Contextual Tour
After HR has delivered its onboarding orientation, and you have taken care of the typical orientation essentials, continue your self-onboarding by organizing your own two- to three-week contextual tour of the company. This self-curated tour means creating a schedule to meet the people outside of your team that will impact or receive your work. You will also want to build in a few minutes to get to know other influencers in your organization to help you better understand context and how work is done. Moving past your team circle is critical to putting you in a position to do your best work from the start and distinguishing yourself at any organization, regardless of your job title or level of experience. Make it easy for people to meet with you by asking them out for coffee, a quick lunch or even a quick dive into a meeting room for a 15-minute discussion. Use this time to put names to faces, learn the nuances of the business and put your job into a big-picture perspective.
Taking the extra time and effort to self-onboard, from the very outset of the interview process, is a powerful way to take personal control of your success. Regardless of how informative, helpful and detailed your formal onboarding experience is, or perhaps how poorly organized it is, you can ensure your own success from day one by taking proactive steps to add value and make a difference others notice and appreciate.
Gary Beckstrand is a vice president at O.C. Tanner, the world’s leading employee recognition and engagement company. There, he helps oversee the O.C. Tanner Institute, a global forum that researches and shares insights to help organizations inspire and appreciate great work. He has consulted with numerous Fortune 100 companies to assess recognition cultures, develop strategic solutions and measure results.