Despite leaving the company on amicable terms to pursue a better career opportunity, to this day I am still asked the question "What happened at LinkedIn?" and the answer is simple: It wasn't a good fit.
It's taken me nearly two years to humble myself to write this piece and I've often contemplated if I should even do it as it's tough to accept that I squandered a once in a lifetime opportunity.
However, there's a lot to gain from self-reflection. For this reason, I want to share what I learned by failing in my dream job and how you can avoid the same fate.
1. Check Your Ego at The Door
While landing a new job can be an exciting time, wait for your employer to formally announce your hiring internally before letting anyone beyond your inner circle (ex: spouse, partner, mentor(s), or professional references) know. Keep in mind that you are being evaluated throughout the interview process including the time leading up to your first day. While those "Congrats!" on Facebook are good for the ego, letting the news spill early might breach a newly formed trust before you start and cause your new employer to second guess you as an ideal fit.
In my case, upon accepting my offer at LinkedIn (3 weeks before my start date) I took to the airwaves of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to announce my hiring which was my first mistake. LinkedIn is about LinkedIn and in the world of social media networks they are at the center of the universe.
2. Engage Your Peers on Day 1
Starting a new job is similar to the first day of school. However, unlike grade school or college, in the working world, your peers go a long way in determining whether you succeed or fail and it's a decision that's made for you as soon as a first impression is made.
As early as day one, go to lunch with your colleagues in order to build a rapport which works both ways both on a personal and professional level. Express an open desire to spend time shadowing them for a day or two to understand what they do, then offer to take tasks off their plate, and most importantly ask the magic question: "What can I do to make you successful in your role?" Amongst colleagues or management, the question will frequently come up "What do you think of the new guy/girl?" Any answer other than something along the lines of "They're great!" or "I'm glad we hired them!" will instantly cast doubt if you are the right person for the role.
Like most companies, one of LinkedIn's core values which make up their company culture is collaboration. What I came to discover in my first few weeks on the job was that my own peers were frequently asked to evaluate my collaborative performance by management.
3. Establish KPI's and Goals
Having a conversation with your supervisor around expectations should happen on your first day as priorities might have shifted from the time you interviewed or there may have been a re-organization in staff.
Somewhere between days 3-4, the person that I replaced who was still with the company informed me that many within the organization were "concerned" that our numbers had declined and all fingers were pointed at me to fix it followed by the words, "This is LinkedIn, the expectations are high..." The key to avoiding this scenario is to establish clear-cut goals, performance benchmarks, and a timeline to work against from the start.
4. Seek Feedback Regularly
If a conversation occurs involving the language "I'm concerned about your performance and questioning if this is a fit..." comes into play, it's likely that management has already come to a conclusion that you are someone they no longer have faith in and they are working with Human Resources on issuing a performance improvement plan (PIP) or termination. During your first week on the job, you should schedule a recurring 1:1 meeting with your supervisor on a weekly basis to review your performance and seek feedback. Don't wait for them to go to you, you go to them.
5. What Got You the Job Won't Keep You in The Job
When an employer is considering you as a candidate they look at the overall big picture which is what you've done up to this point, what makes you stand out from the field of candidates, and can you drive results which are most important.
No matter how talented you are or what you've accomplished in previous roles, employers are all about what you can do for them--right now. In your new role, seek to take on a project with a clear-cut outcome within your first 30 days.
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