In just over three years at The Penny Hoarder, I've watched the company grow from about 10 employees to more than 100. Some of us -- like me -- have stuck around to grow with the company. Some have come and gone quickly.
I've been in a position to work alongside, report to or manage new employees, and I know it's intimidating even for the best talent to step into an already top-shelf staff.
If you're in that position now, here are a few things you can do to make yourself stand out.
1. Show respect for existing employees.
I'm assuming you chose to work with a company whose employees you respect. Act like it.
Among the surest signs of turnaround I've seen in new hires is a lack of appreciation for those of us who've been around. When someone -- at any level -- fails to tap into our experience and instead dives head-first into a project from scratch, the project is usually doomed, followed by their career with the company.
Because you're working with smart people, show them you respect their knowledge and experience. Before suggesting changes or diving in with new ideas, ask "How has this been done in the past?"
That doesn't mean you shouldn't suggest improvements where they're needed; just don't assume you're the first one to think of something, and figure out if any groundwork has already been laid.
2. Find your point people.
Regardless of the size of the company -- 10 employees or 10,000 -- go-to people exist for the issues you'll deal with day to day.
One of my favorite things about onboarding at The Penny Hoarder is that new employees set up meetings with relevant people across the company. For example, new folks on my team learn how the work of our social media, advertising and SEO teams intersect with their editorial work.
In your first week or two, identify the right people to talk to in each project or department, and get to know them. If you're going to work closely with someone from a different team, ask them to lunch or coffee. Make a point to chat when you see them in the halls.
3. Join meetings, even if they don't seem relevant.
At The Penny Hoarder, we build time into new-employee onboarding to attend meetings outside of their team. If your new company doesn't set this up for you, ask for it. Sit in on meetings to understand what's happening across the company and how your coworkers make decisions.
Easy targets are stand-ups or weekly meetings of teams you'll work closely with. But also try to sit in on meetings for teams that handle HR, finance, advertising or anything far outside of your wheelhouse. Everything that happens at the company probably intersects with your work somehow. Diving in early on can help you understand how you can be valuable to people across the company.
4. Ask probing questions.
Especially in a startup environment (but, increasingly, even in larger companies), new employees are valued for their fresh perspectives. Don't be afraid to ask questions as you learn to dig into issues existing employees haven't resolved.
You don't have to be a jerk to do this effectively. The most important word in your vocabulary at this stage is simply "Why?"
5. Revisit your job description.
One of the most impressive things one of my latest hires has done is review her job description after a few months and ask me where she had room for improvement. This was a great opportunity to address any issues early on and make sure she was being properly challenged in her role and see if there were any areas we might expand the role into.
Revisit your job description with your manager after you train. Did your training cover everything? Are you doing everything they expected of your role? Has anything been added that you need to address (whether it's beyond your scope or you just want to make sure you're the best person to do it)?
6. Figure out your value.
In rapidly growing companies, positions are often created without a full understanding of their role in achieving the company's goals. Show your worth by figuring out early on exactly what you can bring to the company -- especially if it's far more than the position you were hired into.
Find out which problems have been going unsolved because of lack of resources, and propose ways to solve them. Showcase your skills by volunteering to solve problems outside of your job description (as long as it doesn't hinder your ability to do your actual job).
This could set you up for a quick promotion or, at least, an expansion of your job description to land on work that's exactly right for you.