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I recently accepted a job I'm very excited about. I'll be working for a large company which is expanding some of its consulting services, following several successful contract bids.

The large contracts have created a power- and knowledge-vacuum in a relatively small side of the company. As a result of this, the department I'm being hired into is expanding by roughly 50% by the time of my start date. Many of those joining the team will be younger, entry level folks like myself.

While I anticipate being slightly better prepared than most due to my previous experience, I hold no delusions about being the absolute best and brightest. My question is: what's the best way to impress? With the large influx of new faces, should I really try to get my head and shoulders above the rest, or get my head down and do good, solid work and let the productivity charts sing my praises (doing both is good, but kissing butt takes time that could be spent learning)?

  • @JoeStrazzere I got that impression as well. – Retired Codger Mar 17 '16 at 12:32
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Solid work is a good start to a career, you're unlikely to be promoted for a while so no need to burn yourself out trying to impress.

Don't be lazy though, put in the effort, focus, pay attention to detail, be efficient, stay out of office politics and finger pointing. I have found that that is all it takes to shine amongst a mediocre crowd. The more people there are, especially a younger crowd, the better you will look as a dependable level headed employee.

Another thing with a rapid expansion is that sometimes they miscalculate and over hire. In which case a few months down the track when things calm down they start looking for people to let go.

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I would prioritize your efforts for the long term by focusing on the quality of your work ("doing good solid work"), while at the same time remaining on the lookout for opportunities to distinguish yourself. If a volunteer is needed to perform a task be the first one to speak up, be well prepared for meetings and participate in them actively, etc.

There are many small things you can do that will help you shine without taking up too much time which would otherwise be spent on making sure your work is as solid as it can be. Those small things combined help you leave a positive feeling with both your colleagues and those above you, which is always a good position. If there need to be layoffs, you're a lot less likely to find your head on the chopping block than if you only kept your head down and did solid work without leaving much of an impression. The reverse counts for if a promotion or interesting opportunity is available: someone who's left a good feeling is much more likely to be chosen.

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The keys are knowledge, accountability, and communication.

During hiring booms at companies (and I was hired like this and have hired like this) everyone gets thrown in the pool. There are those who will float around aimlessly. There are those that will swim their way to the other side. There are those who drown.

Verdict: Not only swim to the other side but drag other employees with you. If employer sees you are knowledgeable and helpful you are on the fast track. All of these new people will need supervisors/managers soon.

  • " Not only swim to the other side but drag other employees with you" _ I would hire you if you don't wear that mask during the interview ;) – Kyle Mar 17 '16 at 14:21
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I started in the go-go 90's in exactly the same situation, as an internal consultant in a well-known company. It's relatively easy to stand out doing exactly the same things you should do whenever you start a new job:

Do something important, do it well, and do it visibly.

Your client will be the most important person to impress. Their words back home matter--and their dollars matter even more. Genuinely care that you are doing the right thing for them, especially if it's in a way that is profitable for your company. That contact person needs to sing your praises. Do the big job, the one that matters most on their side. Once you get in and they're comfortable with your work, ask them what keeps them awake at night. Address that. That's the problem they think is both critical and hard.

Make sure the work is solid. Don't do what they ask, do what the ask and what they need.

Make sure the work is visible. Every job has touch points to the rest of the organization, if you look hard enough. Make sure you know the people ultimately impacted by the work, and what they want from their perspective. Don't assume your client has. Lunches are great for this.

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I have little experience (just 2 years, working as a full-stack developer), butt I had some experience with that too, like everyone else, that said I think you should work harder than anyone else in your "batch", show your boss that you're willing to sacrifice some of your personal time for your professional growth (don't worry, it's not something out of this world, and it's worth it), don't brag about what you do, but show as much result as possible, and last but certainly not least, be 100% professional, don't show immaturity in business discussions or even on trivial subjects, your boss will spot it if you're a kid trying to look professional, so don't act professional be professional.

It's just my two cents though.

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