How to spend your first 90 days at a new job

Linda Z
Agile Insider
Published in
5 min readMar 23, 2022

Source: Adobe InStock

You’re new, a little nervous, and want to hit the ground running. What’s the best way to spend your first 30, 60, 90 days at a new job?

I made this detailed checklist last year which strangely found some traction on HackerNews, so I figured a fresh update would be useful.

Getting onboarding right is like the Goldilocks story: do too little and you disappoint; do too much and you upset. What is just right? How do you go from unknown outsider to trusted insider?‍

Day 0–30: breadth over depth

Tip #1: avoid tunnel vision. When you’re new, it’s tempting to fall down a rabbithole and make it your sole focus. It feels productive and reassuring. But you can’t develop good judgment without broader context.

The first 30 days is a rare opportunity to gain that context. It’s about meeting people, mapping the business equation, and playing with the product while you have fresh eyes.‍

“Create leverage”

If you’re a doer at heart like me, it feels weird to not produce anything. So here’s an underrated outlet: document what you learn as you learn them.

The first audience is yourself — writing clarifies your thinking. A second audience could be your manager. Signaling your learnings and inviting them to edit builds trust, especially if you’re working remotely.

A third audience, down the line, could be other new hires. The best person to write an onboarding guide is usually not the most tenured person, but someone who recently onboarded because they intimately understand the struggles of being new.

In my first week, I once made a data dictionary to capture how engineers structured their databases. It wound up widely circulated to new hires because it became the most up-to-date record.

Another term for this is “creating leverage” — something managers love to say. The no-BS translation is: what can I say or do once that can be used over and over? Shipping features is a classic example; hiring well is yet another; documenting what you learn is an early, underrated alternative.‍

Day 30–60: dive deep

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