Many people are shuffling and shifting jobs in this new unexpected workforce environment. New developers will face frustrating first few weeks (even months) for a variety of reasons. Recent survey by Jobvite looked at employees that left their job in the first 90 days, and found that 43% left because of the gap they felt between their day to day and their expectations. Some of these frustrations can be easily prevented if the hiring company presents a well-planned onboarding process, but usually – this isn’t the case.

I would like to shift the focus to new developers, to you – new hires – and share in this post some tips on how to win onboarding with 5 smart moves to make in your first weeks within a company.

  1. Start Before you start – It will reflect well on you to get a head start. Don’t hesitate to talk to your new manager or mentor before the first day and ask them if there is anything they would like to send you beforehand – even spending a few hours reading can help you feel prepared for the first days. As a hiring manager, I always find this approach very impressive.
  2. The first task tip – Soon enough, you will be given your first task. Make sure you understand what is the definition of done for this task. What might seem obvious to the person who has written the task isn’t necessarily clear to someone new to the team. Clarify any unknowns before approaching the task. Before you are done and issue your first Pull Request – take the time to tidy it up and make a good first impression.
  3. Manage your learning curve – Take the lead and ask – what are your mentor’s expectations from you? And from your ongoing communication?

A good list of questions would be:

  • What do you expect me to learn this week?
  • How often should I contact you?
  • Are we going to have a status meeting on a regular basis? (If not, suggest to schedule one for now – you can always cancel it later).
  1. Contribution tip – You might find the company does not yet have a robust engineer onboarding process. In case you are struggling to find the right info at the right time – start mapping and adding to the missing documentation – It’s a great way to contribute to your company’s engineer onboarding program, and bring value to the team from day one.
  2. Troubleshoot – [yes, it really is necessary ] – It’s not easy to ask for feedback, let alone when starting to work at a new place, but knowing if you are on the right track will make a huge difference. Asking for regular feedback will allow you to amend and improve on the go but will most of all welcome communication with the team and this is especially important when remote. Be mindful of the way you’re approaching the topic and the timing, but trust that asking for feedback right off the bat will help you move and improve fast.

Wrapping up [& Bonus]

  • If you’re starting a new job soon, or know someone who is, tell them it’s possible to thrive during those first few stressful days and weeks. Smart moves basically mean taking the lead and being active in the way you’re about to consume new knowledge. Contributing and improving on the documentation you feel is lacking, will help you bring value quickly, and future hires will thank you.
  • In a recent survey over 50% of developers reported having bad onboarding programs or no programs at all at their company (see the StackOverflow 2020 developer survey). If you get to be someone’s mentor, we strongly recommend this post.
  • If you’ve been impacted by Covid 19, or you’re onboarding a new company and feel like you might benefit from deepening your knowledge in Python, Swimm recently created Python tutorial libraries to help out for free. Please reach out and we will personally onboard you to the library to get started ->

    To learn more about Swimm, sign up for a 1:1 Swimm demo.