For historians and political scientists, the first 100 days refers to the start of a presidency. This mostly symbolic phrase stems from the first term of FDR after he passed more than a dozen major laws between March 4 and July 24, 1933.

For recruiters, your first 100 days at a new gig will likely look a lot different than it did for President Roosevelt — and to your benefit. See, this period often comes with lofty expectations, both self-imposed and on the part of the organization. The trick is escaping this undue pressure and taking the time needed to learn everything you can about the job and its many facets. 

To ensure this happens, you need to be upfront with your potential employer and let them know that you’ll need to get up to speed, and that doesn’t involve performing any miracles. Have this conversation before you accept the job — think day zero. Once they agree, proceed with the understanding that the organization supports you and your approach. And with that out of the way, here’s a look at what to do — and what not to do — in those first few months after you start: 

10 dos and don’ts for your new recruiting gig

1. DO stop, look and listen. Frankly, at this point in your tenure, you should listen way more than you talk, recognizing that you don’t have enough data yet. You need to gather up as much information as possible and synthesize everything bit by bit. This is hard for some of us but will help you process fully, rather than simply react.

2. DON’T make any quick decisions. You’re still learning — and even if you have previous experience in recruiting, that doesn’t mean it applies to this organization. Instead, look to the existing team for guidance. They have a firmer grasp on processes, procedures and how things work than you do.

3. DO audit the people, processes and product. You’ve got a lot to take in, and while it sounds like a long time, those 100 days will fly by. Work your way through the recruiting process from start to finish and top to bottom, getting into the intricacies of each step and who or what is involved. Document as you go.

4. DON’T feel you have to change anything. Coming in like a tornado and ripping apart the systems and structures in place isn’t going to make you any friends. Shelve the change initiatives in favor of a charm offensive until you get on the same page with those around you. You won’t have another chance to get them on your side.

5. DO talk to everyone. In the metrics-driven world we work in, it can feel off-putting to spend your days just talking to people. But in speaking with employees, executives, tech partners and the like, you’re going to get a front row seat to how things have been operating. That’s the fastest way to determine what’s working and what’s not.

6. DON’T be judgmental. At some point in these interactions, you’ll get word that so-and-so doesn’t pull their weight, while such-and-such messed up X. Before taking any of this to heart, set up appointments with so-and-so and such-and-such and find out what they have to say, rather than rely on rumors and idle chatter.

7. DO offer feedback. As the weeks turn into months and you gain the necessary context, you’ll notice things that others have not. They’ve been on the inside while you’ve been a fly on the wall. Here’s where you start to transition from observer to active participant, making small suggestions at first while developing a broader action plan.

8. DON’T alienate and disrupt. As you settle in and find your groove, it’s important to remember diplomacy. Even if issues are staring you dead on, you need to weigh these against the tapestry of what you know. Rock the boat slowly and steadily rather than overturning it all at once.

9. DO take it all in. Again, there will be moments when you feel like you’re not working. Put that thought out of your head. Focus your efforts and tackle one task at a time. Investigate how offer letters get handled — find out if there are expiration dates attached, and if so, why? Dig into the minutiae.

10. DON’T shoot from the hip. Once you know how and why things get used a certain way, you can fully flesh out a list of action items for day 101. Until then, you’re going to need to grit your teeth and keep your head down. Even if you’ve been doing this your whole career, you’re starting from scratch. 

Recruiting is all about connections made and lessons learned. If and when you’re in a new position, carve out those 100 days to reset and refine your skills and abilities — you’ll thank yourself later. I all but guarantee it.


William Tincup is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.