Knowing how to survive your first 100 days on the job as a consultant can help you begin paving the career path you want from day one. As with any career, a positive first impression is essential for success. It sets the stage for how you are perceived by colleagues, clients, and key leaders. Hence, your first 100 days will play an important role in defining your career in the firm.
More than likely, your first 100-day period on the job will only include a single project, which means you will probably have one manager and one to two partners assessing your skills. If you manage to make a good first impression with these individuals, there is a good chance you will work on projects with similar people in a similar area in the future. If they’re happy with your work, you will be on your way to becoming viewed as a valuable team member with a secure career at the firm. On the other hand, if you fail to perform well on your first project, you will likely be assessed for different project types with different people in the future. You will have already started to develop a reputation based on your first project, so you will have to work harder to improve the impression colleagues have of you and to prove that you do, in fact, bring value to the teams you work on and the firm as a whole.
What You Need to Know Now
To create the best possible impression in your first 100 days on the job, you should follow some fundamental principles.
Always work to improve your skills
To begin with, even before you start your new job, you can improve your skills for the tasks assigned to you. Though it’s a wide range of skillset, you may improve your skills for the following:
- Financial analysis, such as P&L and balance sheet analysis
- Specific industry knowledge based on the main industries at the office
- Slide making and storylining in PowerPoint
- Modeling in Excel
Solve as many problems as possible
A project budget is defined based on the time required to deliver it; for that reason, time is the most important thing for any consulting team. Each team member needs to work as efficiently as possible, always striving to gain time rather than lose it. In most cases, this is possible through effective task delegation. As one of the junior members of your team, you will be the person to take responsibility for the tasks delegated by team leaders, and you want to work through them in a timely manner to keep the team on track.
Show commitment to building expertise in the industry in which you work
When you begin your career, you will learn there are various materials on each firm’s portal which contain detailed information and best practices for each sector. These may include resources like:
- training materials provided by internal and external experts on the different industries and business functions,
- an internal knowledge management system that contains documentation of previous projects,
- internal and external databases that contain insights about various sectors
Read your performance evaluation criteria
It’s important that you have a strong understanding of your performance criteria, and we recommend that you try to assess your own performance based on those criteria each week. Take a step back and review your progress as if you were evaluating someone else. This exercise creates self-awareness and enables you to find opportunities for improvement. At the end of each week, try to set your own goals for improvement the following week. Continue this process of reviewing your work at the end of each week and setting goals for the following week. Track your own progress so you can continue to grow.
Ask for feedback from people on the project
Assessing yourself is important, but you’ll also want feedback from your team. Begin by setting regular meetings with your manager. One meeting per month is perfect. Similarly, ask the partner in the project to give you feedback after you’ve spent a decent amount of time with the team. This will help you learn more about their views on your performance. Having feedback from a variety of seniority levels will help you identify recurring themes and any common concerns. It also assists you in developing relationships with different levels of the office.
Ask your close peers for feedback
With your peers, you can ask for more informal feedback, so a meeting is not required. Your peers are experiencing many of the same learning experiences and challenges as you are, so they have the unique ability to truly put themselves in your shoes when providing feedback.
As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Make your first impression as a consultant count by preparing to succeed now. Use the strategies we’ve shared to not only survive but thrive in your first 100 days on the job as a consultant.