Recently, I achieved a milestone: I completed the first 90 days within my organization. As I opened my email to a “Congratulations on your first 90 days!” message, I took a moment to think back on my candidate experience and how I fared assimilating into the organization which I now call my professional home. I can say I have walked in the shoes of both an external applicant as well as a new employee, and I would like to share personal perceptions of my experience and how I extended that experience into my assimilation period.
Candidate Experience: Before vs. After
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As an applicant, my candidate experience was positive and the primary driver in my decision to accept the opportunity to join my company: great contacts with fantastic people, perceived cultural fit, streamlined process, and expectations set and maintained throughout the timeframe of the experience. So it was with great fervor that I began as a new hire with a two-day onboarding which included an overview of the organization, ability to meet many people, as well as the tactics of laptop, email, time and expense, etc. … as of Day 3, I wanted to jump in, roll up my sleeves, and ramp up … but I quickly understood that a) I didn’t know anyone (and, more so, no one knew me), b) I was unfamiliar with the structure and c) I found myself grappling with a lot of acronyms and other tactical necessities which differed from my previous organization.
Not allowing my personal frustration to grow, I thought back to the factors which comprised my candidate experience and the reasons why I chose to join my organization, and decided to revisit those reasons as a base to carve out my 90-day path.
Learning and Brand
As an applicant, I tried to learn as much as I could about the organization to understand my fit and potential to grow. As a new hire, I continued to focus on learning, now as an employee: during my first two weeks, I read a lot of material. While many employees take for granted the volume of information available, reading the intranet, including reference materials, internal blogs, and service offerings helped me understand a deeper level of the environment and areas of focus within my domain. Taking the time to read brought me closer to understanding the organization’s employer and employee brand from the inside out and giving me a foundation for individual reach-out discussions. Finally, reading provided me with names of people — authors of whitepapers, blog posts, and commentary on internal chats — which were part of the same expertise domain as me, without necessarily being part of my immediate team.
Human and Technology
As an applicant, the ability to meet and speak with different people was an important part of my experience; along with cultural fit, I was able to understand the range and depth of expertise in my domain and get a feel as to where I could add value. As a new employee, I proactively reached out to different people via emails, telephone calls, etc. both with my immediate team but also with other colleagues and key leaders. Everyone I connected with responded with kindness, and curiosity via a “Welcome! Happy to set up a time to discuss” response which allowed me the opportunity to listen, learn, and ask questions (a lot of questions, in my case) of others in the organization and discuss how my expertise could add value to them, and vice versa.
Being a virtual employee, I have used various forms of technology as an enabler of success. As a new hire, my technology of choice was video via instant message for internal meetings, both formal and informal. Admittedly, video is not yet a technology everyone is comfortable with, but in my first 90 days I consistently suggested video as it helped me to build a stronger human element to the conversation. Making connections and building networks are critical in my professional domain. I am fortunate that the organization I joined supports technology which allows for seamless 1:1 video anywhere in the world. In a virtual environment, using video internally has been extremely helpful to develop a professional network; in my case, it also helped me place names with voices on conference calls.
During my recruitment experience, I appreciated the structure and expectations-setting; the process was smooth, I knew what to expect as I am a planner and processor. During the initial days of onboarding, however, I found myself getting caught up with information imbalance; my desire to jump in led me to absorbing content without necessarily yet having fully grasped the bigger picture. A simple, yet effective piece of advice provided on my Day 3 was to build a plan of what I wanted to achieve and then stick to it. In my situation, I had a framework from my organization which I supplemented with what I felt I needed to ramp up and set my stage for success, going forward. While this sounds simplistic, the exercise of building my own plan and defining milestones which I considered to be important provided me both direction and a personal sense of accomplishment during the first 90 days.
As a New Hire, Build Upon Your Candidate Experience
Candidate experience is an ongoing focus for many companies with talent acquisition as the front line. While candidate experience is unique to the individual, the expectations and personal interests do not necessarily change once these individuals are hired. As a new hire, I used my experience as a candidate, realizing my needs were unique and required my proactive engagement during my assimilation to ensure success. As we hire new employees into our organizations, here are some recommendations to consider and share with people as they onboard and assimilate into your organization:
- Transitioning your Candidate Experience
- Consider the factors which contributed to your reasons for joining the organization; what was important for you? Can you supplement your assimilation plan to highlight and dive deeper into those areas?
- Reach out to people in the organization; introduce yourself and offer an opportunity for a meet-and-greet by phone, in person, instant message, or by video. It is OK to put yourself out there — you’re new.
- Listen. A lot. Speak with people (and take notes) to understand the different facets of your domain and ways to contribute value; opportunities to add value may be greater than you had thought during your recruitment process.
- Read. A lot. While you may want to jump right in, invest time early on to read and gain knowledge about the organization you joined, its employee culture, and its deep company roots.
- Ask questions; they may seem small at times, but ask questions to clarify, understand, confirm, or even challenge (you may have joined to do just that … challenge!).
- Have a plan to be able to review with management as to what you have learned, accomplished, people you have met, and how you are building your networks.
- Incorporate milestones into your plan; everyone appreciates a sense of accomplishment and you can achieve success, even when new to an organization.
We can help new employees understand and harness why their experience was positive, recommend they continue to focus and enhance those factors during their onboarding and assimilation, and suggest proactivity in supplementing and personalizing their 90-day plans. By doing so, we collectively support the new employee’s speed to productivity, cultural integration, and validation of their decision to join — important elements for employee engagement and retention.