Some new employees show up and make a terrific first impression and often, that has powerful downstream implications. They create a kind of ‘Halo Effect’ that leads to a positive assumption that they will be great:
- What a great hire!
- Put her on the ___ (high visibility project with the best senior people)
- She’s going places…
- Initially, they get the benefit of the doubt as they emerge
- And often they get better assignments
So how do you self-position and create the Halo Effect in order to give you a strong initial advantage? Listen up.
The Key is Preparation
Terrific preparation for a new position does two things:
- First: You walk in to the assignment with confidence. Confidence is emboldened with great preparation. You learn at a faster pace, and you walk with a bit of a swagger.
- Second: You stand out early in a positive way just when the organization is initially sizing you up.
Four Steps to the Halo Effect
- Have a talk with your soon-to-be manager prior to showing up. You want to ascertain what it takes to be an over-achiever. This advice may flow naturally from your manager or you may have to pull this advice out of the conversation. You want to figure out how you and your new boss will be sitting in their office in six months talking about your early ramping and say…Wow!
A way to finesse this guidance is to ask open-ended questions. Here are some examples:
- “I am really excited about joining your team and am grateful for the role you have given me. Between now and the time I report, I want to be as prepared as possible. Essentially, what I want to accomplish is in six months, we are sitting in your office and we are high fiving about my start. What do you suggest that I do prior to reporting to better prepare me for the Wow Moment?”
- OR: “Of those who have been the most successful in my role, what did they do to stand out?”
- OR: “Of those who have had my role and disappointed you or failed, what did they do wrong?”
This will pull significant guidance out of your soon-to-be boss.
- Let the Internet assist you in your due-diligence and preparation by setting Google alerts. Google alerts will send valuable information to your inbox. Set alerts for:
- The company/organization
- The company’s top 3 competitors
- A key industry analyst who watches the market that your new company plays in
- A key financial analyst who watches and often predicts the future value of the company (all brokerage firms have this for publicly held companies)
This lets due diligence flow your way. Read/Review/Grow.
- Search LinkedIn for alums or other contacts that may have worked for the company you are joining, or a competitor, or an adjacent company in the industry. They will know what it takes to be successful there. Engage with a few and seek guidance.
- “You have had an impressive career. What advice would give me to come up to speed and really make my mark?”
- “What do you think I can do to prepare to show up and stand out?”
- Finally:SHUT UP. The last thing you want to say is, “You should have seen how hard I prepped for this job….” A better strategy is to come across as a quick learner and very on the ball.
These steps apply to both formal jobs and internships. Remember that internships are summer-long job interviews. Preparation matters.
If you follow this advice, you will be more prepared than 98% of the people who have joined before you. So what does that do? It allows you to approach your new assignment with a huge advantage.
Being terrifically prepared positions yourself as a high potential over-achiever. Remember what your Mother told you about first impressions…
Fantastic preparation also lays a foundation where you can learn at a more rapid clip. When you go through ‘on-boarding’ or new hire training, you grasp the material faster than someone who did not fully prepare.
Ultimately, thorough preparation gives you more confidence. Confidence is essential when you are playing your ‘A-game.’
Good luck, now get moving!