Be Ready for Your Next Job Change
Tips to getting your first day, week and month of work in your new job off to a good start.
If you’re anticipating a job change in the near future, or you’ve already committed to take on a new role, use this guide to help you transition.
These proven tips should help smooth your transition into a new workplace and increase your odds of success moving forward
Tips to prepare for your first day on the job
Do these things in the days and weeks leading up to your first day on the job. This way you ensure your start has a positive impact on the rest of your career.
Take some time off between jobs
Don’t rush headlong into your new job. It’s better to take it slow and use the extra time to prepare. When you start your new role it will be a busy time, so make sure your batteries are fully charged so you can give your new role 100% in terms of focus and energy.
“If you are able to, taking a few days off or a holiday between jobs can help you to mentally transition from one company to another. It will give also you time to separate from your last employer, and get excited about the new opportunity. Your new employer should be amenable to a start date to allow this. If you brought this up during the interview process, your new employer should already be aware.
New job transition
Like everything in life, “you only get out what you put in”. This means you need to put in some legwork and preparation beforehand. This will in turn make sure you start your new job on the correct footing.
Before you officially start
- Focus on your new job and routine for the first weeks before you start. Get your sleep in: sounds crazy but if you’re tired, you’re unlikely to perform at your best. It will also show to others around you if you’re tired and washed out. This is even more important if you haven’t had a regular routine beforehand.
- Work out your new route. If you wake up on the day and realise you don’t know where you’re going, chances are you’re probably going to be rushing around and may be late. So, before the big day comes, do some research and work out which way you’re going to go. Look at directions, distances, routes, travel times and public transport, road traffic whatever means of travel you use. Also, check if there are any traffic works going on that could disrupt you. Remember - it’s all about preparation. You do not want the embarrassment in the first few days to say, “sorry I’m late”.
- Show how keen you are by making sure you get to your new job in good time. Arriving 10-15 minutes before you start will always leave a good impression.
- Do more in-depth company research. You probably did a fair amount of research before your interview, so you should know a lot about the company already. Some of this may be covered on your induction and on boarding processes, however it’s always to show willing do some of your own research. This will also stop you from going into a new job cold and looking like you don’t have a clue about the ethos of the company.
- Unless you are being given a uniform, one of the areas you need to address is your work attire. Refresh your wardrobe. Very much like an interview, but with your new work colleagues, you want to make a good first impression and not look like you have been “dragged through a hedge backwards”. The kind of environment you are going to work in will most likely dictate what you need to wear, whether it be formal or informal wear. You may have been given this information already. If in doubt, you can always contact the company to find out.
- Set yourself new job goals. When you start your new role it’s good to watch, observe and follow for an indeterminate time. Once you know what projects you’re going to be working on specifically, think about what you’d like to achieve within a set time. That could be a month or two or three. Be realistic – you’re not going to change the world in 3 months but try and set goals that will push you quite a bit and help you get off to a strong start. This will also give you something to aim for.
- When you have done your induction and “onboarding process” read through your induction packs and any other official document you have been given by the company. These will have a lot of important information about your employment, your responsibilities and what you may need to bring with you when you start work. Also, make sure you have everything that’s been specifically asked for.
These are things that can have a big impact on how you perform.
The day you start your new job
You have laid the foundations for your success already, but do not be complacent – now it’s time to build on your foundation.
- Wake up early - head to bed early and set your alarm. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready so that you can do so at a leisurely pace and give yourself plenty of time to dress the part. This way you will have time to calmly prepare yourself mentally for your new challenge so the nerves do not build up. Taking your time is a much more favourable approach compared to arriving late, sweaty and anxious.
- Stay cool and be mindful - it’s totally natural to be a little freaked out at the prospect of starting a new job. Honestly, it would be weird if you weren’t nervous about your new role. Your employer expects you to have questions and realizes it will take a little while to get up to speed. Practicing mindfulness can help control your jitters and prevent them from spiralling into productivity-sapping panic. Use the time to clear your mind, listen to your body, and take deep, intentional breaths. Preparing for your first day with this level of mindfulness will prepare you for any ups and downs you may experience. When you encounter an unfamiliar situation that might normally rile you up, take a mental vacation back to that cool, calm place and face the challenge with a clear head.
- Be humble, receptive and approachable with a confident and friendly manner and demeanour. Confidence doesn’t mean being really loud or ‘showy’ - this is not a great image to portray on your first day. It is much better to build colleague support and relations by being open, at ease, welcoming and friendly to everyone. Smile, shake people’s hands (if you are in the Middle East remember it is not acceptable to offer your hand to a Muslim female) and say hello. Get to know them. Treating everyone fairly and openly shows true confidence and integrity, rather than trying to be the pre-Madonna or attention-grabber.
- Don’t be scared to ask questions, no matter how simple the question may be. This is a new job with people you don’t know – you’re not going to know everything. Your colleagues know that too, so don’t be scared to ask questions if there’s something you’re unaware of. Like everything else, though, use some common sense too – don’t ask questions for the sake of it.
- It is always important to know what the company or office etiquette is. Different companies have different values and ways of doing things. There is no right or wrong, it all depends on company culture. Some might not mind if you use your phone whilst at work, change your desktop’s background picture, put personal things in your office or even pop onto social media to take a quick breather from work. If you’re in doubt, subtly bring it up with one of your colleagues to find out how things are done there.
- We all would like to be able to retain everything we are told. However, when it’s a new job and until it’s second nature, it may all take some time to sink in. Bring a notebook and pen or ask your boss if they have one, but don’t risk looking unprepared and ill-equipped on your first day at work. Then you can write down all the practices, procedures and other things you need to retain that are not covered in your induction manual.
- Know who you need to meet and what they need from you. Don’t rely on your new boss or HR contact to set up all the meetings and introductions you’ll need to wrap your head around your new job. They don’t necessarily know everything you’ll need to do to prepare for your new role and responsibilities. If you don’t get a guided walk-through on your first day, your second day might present a better opportunity to take a self-guided tour of the premises. At that point, you should have your employee badge and be able to walk with enough confidence to blend right in.
- Offer to make people drinks: yeah, this old classic. Your new colleagues will probably be expecting you to offer to make drinks on your first day, so don’t let them down by not offering to. It’s always a good ice breaker when getting to know colleagues. Also, when people tell you their preferences, do your best to remember them. You might want to write them down.
- Don’t stay late for the sake of staying late. if you want to stay late, no one’s going to stop you, unless the premises is being locked up for the day. But don’t just do it because you think it’s going to make a good impression. Doing great work will help you make a good impression. At the same time don’t start “clock watching “ and don’t rush out the door as fast as you can when your shift ends.
- If you have a company phone, either on site or a mobile, find out if there’s a standard greeting that you should use when answering calls. Also, if your colleagues have office phones, find out if it is required to answer them when your colleagues are away from their desks/ office.
- When communicating with email normally a company will set you up a company’s email signature etc. Find out if there is a standard reply to certain emails or if there are email framework templates you need to use when replying. Remember, emails are pieces of writing and they should be professional in themselves. Space things out nicely, check spelling and grammar, make sure there’s a subject line, don’t forget your attachments (if there are any) and whatever you do, don’t copy in the wrong people or hit “reply all” by mistake. If you do, you won’t look very professional for long.
- Get contact details - if something happens, or if you get ill, you’ll need to inform someone, so get the contact details of your manager or HR manager.
- Work out the lay of the land - each company or office will have its own culture. Some will be quieter than others, while some will be frantic. Take some time to work out which yours is, and therefore how you should act in it.
- Until you get to know your colleagues, listening is the best policy. You then get to find out peoples’ personalities, find out about projects, developments and interactions, which will help you to get up to speed with the company’s work and also find out how to act around your colleagues.
- Keep your manager abreast of your progress and developments, let them know what you’re working on every now and then, or ask for their feedback on something. Also, you might want to instigate some kind of regular catch up, maybe at the end of each week, to go over what you’ve been working on. There is then a two-way traffic on dialog regarding how you feel you are settling in and how they feel you are settling in. This always helps issues from becoming unsurmountable and irreconcilable.
- Be ready for ice-breakers or team building sessions. These can be daunting but they are generally designed to be fun ways of finding out about other people and letting them find out about you, so don’t worry - just go with the flow. What might help is having an introduction prepared that outlines who you are, what you’ll be doing and an interesting fact or two about yourself. There you go - you just broke the ice!
- Think twice about bringing your own lunch. We’ve already touched on what you should bring to your first day on the job. Now, let’s flip that around: Is there anything you should consider leaving at home? Yes. One item you might not want to carry to your new workplace is a premade lunch. While packing your own lunch is usually an effective strategy for saving money at work, it’s not always a practical choice for your first day on the job. We don’t advise bringing a lunch box on your first day, especially if you don’t have an office – you’ll just end up carrying it around. Bring cash or a credit card to pay for lunch at a local restaurant. You may or may not be invited to lunch on your first day and you don’t want to be the one without cash if your peers invite you to come along. Use your first day to get a sense of how your co-worker/ colleagues typically consume their lunches. At their desks, in the break room, in a staff restaurant or out and about. Moving forward, you’ll want to do as the Romans do.
- Depending on whether or not you are a social animal, the early days of your new job are critical and your colleague are the ones most likely to be able to get you over any humps or bumps in the road. Don’t forget they’ve been there themselves. We would recommend you get stuck in socially. In the long run you may not want to go out all the time, but in the early days, you’ll want to show that you’re happy to get out of the office and interact with people in a more casual environment. If you’re offered a place at lunch (remember stay away from alcohol in work time) on your first day of work, or asked to go for a few drinks (even soft drink) after work, just say yes and go with the flow. It’s easier to start off on the right foot than try and play catch up later. In these situations, think about how you will answer these questions.
- What do you want people to know about you?
- What past experience do you want colleagues to know?
- Who do you know in the industry, shared contacts?
- Don’t isolate yourself. You don’t have to be your companies’ party captain to get in with your colleagues. Simply making an outward effort to connect with them on a personal level is usually enough.
- Ask for a mentor. What better way to show how committed you are than by asking for a mentor on your first day at work? This will show that you really want to learn and let you build a rapport with your mentor. If the company hasn’t got a scheme in place, you may even help to kick-start one.
- Remember that your employer needs you too. Remind yourself that your new employer hired you for a reason. They expect you to perform at a high level, but they also really need you in the role – or they wouldn’t have posted it in the first place. Strive for the right balance between being relaxed and earnest. Don’t coast on the feeling that you are comfortable after a week. The easiest way to fall out of favour with your team is to take an “I don’t need you as much as you need me” approach to your work.
- Be Punctual and efficient. This should go without saying, but you’d be shocked at just how many new hires roll into work late in the first week, dawdle through lunch, or duck out early. Once you’ve eased into your new role, you may earn the right to arrive late, leave early, or take long lunch breaks. The early days are not the days to test those presumptions.
- Have fun. You’ll spend a lot of time in work, so do your best to make it enjoyable. Make friends, do the work well and open up your own opportunities. It’s your career, so make it a good one, fun and enjoyable.
Believing in yourself is key to succeeding in a new job. You will undoubtedly face frustrations and make mistakes as you’re adjusting. Don’t fixate on what you have yet to accomplish. Focus instead on how far you’ve already come and where your hard work will take you next. After all, from a pool of candidates, your new employer chose you for this job - you’ve got this.
Sounds strange, but you won’t be in this job forever, and strange things do happen in business. If you do your job well and are friendly with your colleagues, they may help you get a promotion, or even put in a good word for you elsewhere if things don’t work out for you in this company. Obviously, you don’t want it to come to that, but remember – who you know is as important as what you know. Some of the most important connections you make are those you expect to advance your career.