Preparing for a new job: Advice for success

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I have been through the wonderful experience that is job hunting and landed a new role! I start on Monday, so I’ve been preparing for those initial few weeks. As part of that, I’ve been thinking about what advice is out there for setting yourself up for success and preparing for a new job.

I’ve switched jobs a few times now, and worked in a variety of situations; fully remote, global start-ups that span several time-zones as well as with large, highly regulated, extremely local and on-site organisations. Tools and onboarding processes vary widely, but there are a few consistent things to be aware of.

1. You Will be exhausted, so book time in for recovery

Starting a new job is hard! You’re learning people’s names, being exposed to a lot of information, managing a new commute, a new routine, learning new systems and processes… it goes on. Your brain will get tired.

You will want to avoid adding to your stress during this time. Make sure you schedule in down time, avoid signing-up for lots of social events outside of work, and forgive yourself for vegging out in front of the TV when you get home.

Some things to make it easier:

  • Prepare dinner for the week in advance, or plan for easy ‘stick it in the oven’ type meals. I have no shame in admitting I am planning to eat oven pizza and veggie burgers for a few days.
  • Figure out your commute in advance of your first day and practise it.
  • Consider scheduling in self-care activities such as a massage, gentle yoga session, spa visit, or trip to the park for quiet time at the weekend.

2. Focus on people first

One of the biggest things in any new job is understanding how things get done, which generally means understanding the people. Befriend your colleagues, take up any work-related social invites in the first few weeks, and get to know what motivates them and what people’s jobs ‘really’ are (often much more complex than their job description).

How to learn people’s names when starting a new job:

  • Repeat people’s names back to them when you are introduced and ask them a question/engage in Active Listening. You want to understand their role and a bit about them. If you don’t hear someone’s name clearly, ask for it be repeated.
  • If you can say someone’s name three times in your initial conversation, you’re much more likely to remember it later. Try: “Nice to meet you [Name].” “What do you think about this project, [Name]?”, and “Looking forward to working with you, [Name]”.
  • Write people’s names down after you meet them, along with a couple of memory prompts.
  • Ask for introductions in meetings.
  • Follow up with the people you are introduced to, after you meet them, to say thanks for their time.
  • If you forget someone’s name, apologise and note that you’ve met a lot of people over the past few days and ask them for it again. (Try not to forget it twice!)

This is one of those things that’s actually easier when you’re partially or fully remote, because people’s name will appear on the screen when you talk to them!

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You should start to figure out who are the movers-and-shakers in your organisation over time and work to develop relationships with them. Remember that influence is not always correlated with job title! People are always more likely to go above-and-beyond for people they like; do others favours, bring in cookies, offer to make tea, be genuinely interested in who they are and their hobbies.

If you’re an extrovert this will all come naturally, so don’t worry about it! But if you’re an introvert (like me) you’ll need to work a bit harder at it. Try and schedule in one-on-one time with people such as by inviting someone to lunch.

3. Make yourself visible

You want people to have a good impression of you and remember who you are. You can do this by:

  • Asking 2-3 strategic/intelligent questions in meetings. This will help show you are actively listening and engaged.
  • Communicating clearly with your manager/any other stakeholders. Let them know what you’ve learned and any areas you still feel uncertain about.
  • Filling out profile information in any remote-work tools of choice, intranets, employee directories etc.
  • Attending any social events that are organised.
  • Volunteering for any ad-hoc tasks that come up.

4. Set yourself some achievable work goals

These will almost certainly arise naturally from discussions with your manager and colleagues, but it really helps to identify some quick wins you can make.

Achieving a few small things, alleviating a pain point for your manager, pushing a stuck project over the finish line–whatever you decide, write it down and then do whatever you can to achieve it.

This will show that you’re delivering value for the team and the business, and help your manager feel justified in hiring you!

5. Start tracking your successes (and your learning moments)

Something that is incredibly useful for when it’s time to attend a performance review, ask for a raise, or re-write your CV for the next new job is keeping a daily or weekly log of the work you accomplished and the things you did that were successful.

Even better, is keeping a log of ‘learning moments’. These are times when something goes wrong and you learn a valuable lesson to apply in the future! Taking regular time out of your week to review your performance will help you be a better, more actively engaged employee.

LifeHacker has a more detailed guide to what this tracking might look like.

6. Use that first pay-cheque to ‘Treat yo’self’

Job hunting and the first month of a new role is hard. Don’t blow the entirety of your first pay cheque (you’ll want to make sure you’re following your budget, contributing to your pension, and hitting any savings goals too) but do take a chunk to reward yourself.

I haven’t yet decided what my reward is going to be when my first pay cheque lands at the end of July, but you can bet I’m starting to think about it!

I hope these tips help you if you’re preparing for a new job, and feel free to share any additional advice you have in the comments!

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