You’ve made it through the application and interview processes, and ultimately landed a new job — way to go! Now that it’s time to get ready for your first days, what can you do to set yourself up for short-term and long-term success? Here are some key actions to consider when thinking about how to prepare for a new job.
Before you start
Research the company and your colleagues
Remember how you did your research before applying and interviewing? Well, it’s time for another round. Take a look at colleagues’ LinkedIn profiles to see who you’ll be working with, and refresh yourself on the company’s mission and values. This way, you won’t walk in totally blind when it comes to integrating yourself into the team.
Do test runs
If you’re going into an office, what’s the best route to get there, and how long will the commute take? If you’re working from home, will all of your tools and equipment run smoothly? What will you wear, and does it need any adjustments or changes? Planning the first day ahead of time will allow you to sidestep any unforeseen setbacks, such as heavier traffic than assumed, a too-slow internet connection, or a first-day outfit you didn’t realize had a hole or a stain.
Ask about the onboarding process
Before you begin, it’s helpful to have an idea of what will take place during the first few days. Reach out to your contact to learn more about what training you’ll be given, what paperwork will need to be completed, and if there are any orientation materials or employee handbooks to review.
Request — and use — resources
You’re going to be learning a lot as you get up to speed in your role. Asking for resources like internal guidebooks, presentations, or other documents will not only help you become more informed and capable, but will also demonstrate that you’re willing to take the initiative to get a head start and grow in the job.
After you start
Introduce yourself to team members
If your manager or HR rep doesn’t introduce you, make a point of reaching out to immediate team members. Have a pared-down elevator pitch ready, covering the basics of who you are, what your new role is, and possibly what your previous job was — you can even have a fun fact handy, if you’d like. Be aware of your body language, and do your best to project a positive attitude. All of this will enable you to be more visible and to start building a working relationship with your team.
Learn the company structure and culture
You may have gotten glimpses of these during the interview process, but now’s your chance to really delve in. Take a look at the organization chart to see who reports to whom and where there may be growth opportunities. Get a feel for the personalities and beliefs held within the company, as well as any unwritten rules of the workplace, and how you can both fit into the culture and help shape it going forward.
You’ll be given a lot of info in a short amount of time, so it’ll be helpful to keep notes handy and jot things down to refer to later. Whether they’re about where things are located, who you’ve met, or available tools and how to use them, you can build up your own knowledge base and have pages to reference in case you forget anything in the future.
Define goals and success criteria
It’s difficult to succeed in a new job if you don’t know where and how you’re being measured. Discuss with your manager what goals are set for you, your team, and the company as a whole, as well as how those goals will be assessed and what will constitute “success.” This will enable you to excel on the job and avoid any misunderstandings about what is expected.
Participate, but don’t overextend
Depending on where you’re working, you may have opportunities to participate in things outside of the day-to-day tasks. Employee resource groups (ERGs), lunch and learns, career development, and happy hours are great ways to increase your visibility, get to know your coworkers, engage in something you’re passionate about, or learn something new. However, you definitely don’t want to take on too much too early — give yourself time to get settled, and don’t feel compelled to take part in everything and ultimately overfill your plate.
In the first few days, several questions will certainly arise. Don’t shy away from speaking up and asking for more information, and if you’re currently not in a place to ask (maybe you’re in the middle of a meeting or task, and the question isn’t urgent), write them down in your notes to ask about them later. And remember, asking questions isn’t just for those who are new to the role, so getting into the habit of it now will help you continue to thrive down the road!
One of the best ways to advance in your career is to request feedback on your work thus far. Ask your manager about your strengths, what can be improved upon, what part of your performance needs more focus, whether your meeting or exceeding expectations, and how you can add more value to the team. This will also highlight to your manager your willingness to take constructive feedback and put forth the effort to improve — which is an important quality to have as an employee and further shows how you’ll be a benefit to the team.