10 great ways to start a new IT job on the right foot

I just got a new job in a great IT organization. What things can I do to get off to a great start? Thanks, and I hope you publish my question :) Thanks, Justin T.

Hi Justin, thanks for writing in. First and most important, congratulations on your new job. There are a number of things you can do to help assure a quality start to your new job. As you will see, some can be done before your first day of work, others can be done as early as your first day of employment, and they are all related to learning about your new work environment.

Things you can do prior to your first day of work.

  1. Learn as much as you can about the company, including its products, locations, history, revenue, and number of employees. This can be done by a combination of studying the company’s website, doing web and Twitter searches on the company’s name and its product names, and if the company is publicly held, analyze its stock price over the last year and any available investment research notes.
  2. Learn about the industry if your new employer is in an industry you are not familiar with, (for example, healthcare, financial services, construction, etc.). This will help you gain a better understanding of the environment in which your company operates.
  3. Use LinkedIn and other means to find someone who previously worked for the company. By talking with an ex-employee, you can generally get an unbiased and honest opinion of the company, including internal politics, things to watch out for, and how to best succeed.
  4. Learn about the IT group’s vendors, methodologies, and technologies based on any information you gained during your interview process. Having a general understanding of these topics will save you a little study time once your job begins.
  5. Learn about the company’s major competitors, particularly if the company has a specific competitor that it considers an arch rival. Knowing a little about the company’s competitors may help you create innovative IT solutions that truly can help beat the competition.

Once you have started to work at the company, you will have access to additional information that can help you learn about your new job and department.

  1. Watch and learn the dynamics, politics, landmines, and general behavior of people within your IT department, and business users. This will not only help you fit into the work environment more easily, but it will also help protect you from accidently making enemies.
  2. Find a copy of the company’s organization chart with the goal of understanding the formal structure of your department, IT as a whole, the business areas you support, and the company in total. This way, as you are introduced to your fellow employees, you will have a general understanding of their organization level and responsibilities. If the organization chart includes employee pictures, all the better. If you’re not good at remembering faces, reviewing these pictures can be a great way of remembering who’s who.
  3. Gain an understanding of your IT group’s software development methodologies and key technical processes. This will allow you do things right the first time and minimize your need for rework.
  4. Learn about your IT group’s key systems and data flows. This will give you a better understanding of how information is processed within the company. This understanding will help provide you with an overall framework of how the internal systems are architected and how your specific project fits into IT as a whole.
  5. Listen and learn before your speak. As the new person on the block, I know I always wanted to immediately come up with new ideas and great suggestions. In truth, more often than not, I was off the mark because of my lack of background and knowledge of the company. I was the new guy. Definitely speak up, but not before you’re ready. As the saying goes, God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we speak.

If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.

Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.

Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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