You never get a second chance to make a first impression, but just how much time does it take to make one when starting a new job?


In a new survey from Robert Half Finance & Accounting, the majority (54 percent) of chief financial officers (CFOs) said new hires have one to less than three months to prove themselves. Another 9 percent expect employees to make their mark in less than a month.


No Time to Waste: 63% of CFOs give new hires less than three months to prove themselves.


“A good first impression starts before your new position does,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half. “During the interview process, candidates should ask what will be expected in the first 90 days, and new hires should come to the job knowledgeable about the company, the competition and how to make the greatest impact. You don’t need to know everything, but managers are going to expect you to get up to speed in a short amount of time.”


McDonald added, “Try to meet as many people across the organization as quickly as possible. Understanding their roles and priorities will allow you to start adding value right away.”


CFOs were asked, “How much time do you allow a new hire to prove him or herself in a new role?” Their responses:

Less than a month 9%

One to less than three months 54%

Three to less than six months 25%

Six months to less than a year 8%

As long as they need 4%


Here are some do’s and don’ts from Robert Half Finance & Accounting for getting off to a good start in a new job:


  • Do show up early. Arriving ahead of schedule will give you time to settle in, review your calendar and organize your day.

  • Don’t be a know-it-all. Resist the urge to tout how things were done at your previous company; instead, learn how to do it your new firm’s way before suggesting any changes.

  • Do ask for help. Seek assistance if you need it. Request a weekly check-in with your boss to get feedback on your progress and discuss further training. Be an information sponge.

  • Don’t rock the boat. Avoid kicking off your tenure by requesting a flexible schedule or extra time off — that should have been handled during the negotiation process. Also, observe the corporate culture and model your behavior accordingly.

  • Do say “thank you.” No gesture of help is too small to warrant appreciation. Showing sincere gratitude goes a long way and will make coworkers more likely to want to lend you a hand in the future. And, of course, return the favor when they come to you for assistance.

  • Don’t isolate yourself. Invite your colleagues to lunch or coffee to network and gain insights into their jobs. As you learn more about their work, look for ways you can assist them.


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