5 Strategies to Prepare for a New Job
At one point or another, we’ve all been the newbie on the job.
Walking onto campus that first day can feel like a hop back into middle school, where you’re a little uncomfortable, and desperately hoping that everyone will like you. This can be a humbling experience, especially if your new position is something very different than what you are used to. Even if you have some level of experience with the particular type of work you’re about to do, there will always be certain rules and procedures that will not completely mirror the ones at your previous job.
And when you consider that most people change jobs 10-15 times during their careers, it’s worthwhile to know how to adjust quickly and smoothly incorporate yourself into the company. Here are a few strategies that will help you make a fluid transition into your new job.
1. Prepare For a New Job By Clarifying The Expectations.
When you start a brand new position, it’s crucial to clarify with your supervisors what they’re expecting from you in your job– and it’s important to reflect on what you expect from your job. According to Business News Daily, you must tell your new managers what you’re looking forward to, whether it’s experiencing certain innovative projects, or having a schedule for your own growth within the company. Moreover, you’ll want to make sure you clarify with human resources what benefits you’ll be receiving as an employee.
Make a point in the first week or two to get a little one-on-one time with the appropriate people who are in charge of handling those things.
2. Feel Out Your New Workspace in Preparation For Work.
So, you applied for the job, got a call back from the supervisor, and during your interview, they made you a formal offer. At this point, you might be so flustered and excited that you run home to celebrate…
But not so fast.
Instead of walking out of the door (and doing that celebratory backflip when no one’s looking!), hold off and ask if you can have a tour of the place. Doing this will not only make you more familiar with your workspaces beforehand, but it will also show the person who interviewed you that you are motivated about the job, and that you are genuinely looking forward to working there.
Navigating your new workplace is something you want to make a point to do early into your new role, whether you work in an office, or virtually. Sometimes, the person who hired you won’t offer a tour, so don’t be afraid to ask; that way, at least you’ll know where the employee bathrooms, break rooms, elevators, and other commonly utilized places are.
Once you have the lay of the land, enhance your personal workspace for optimal productivity and comfortable performance. The reality is you are going to spend 40 plus hours per week at your workspace, you want it to be someplace you actually enjoy being. Here are a few steps you can take to make your office a haven for success:
- Lights: Office spaces are often filled with fluorescent lights, and prolonged exposure can cause blurred vision and eye strain. Combat this by bringing in a lamp of your own to soften the lighting of your workspace, or even invest in bluelight glasses for the days when you’re affixed to your computer screen.
- Sound: If the open office environment feels too noisy, combine noise-canceling earphones with music that can help you focus. Calming music with roughly 60 beats per minute has actually proven to reduce stress. I’ve been loving this mix on spotify, and wrote an entire book to it!
- Decorate: Bring in a few family photos, a personal plant or a few decorative items that bring you joy. A study in The Journal of Environmental Psychology discovered that decorating your workspace benefits employees by increasing work productivity and overall energy.
3. Prepare For Work & Introduce Yourself.
This strategy may seem pretty obvious, but you would be surprised how many people start new jobs and go on for weeks not knowing who the bulk of their fellow employees are, or what positions they work in. Getting to know your colleagues isn’t just the nice thing to do… it will actually drive your career forward. With 80% of jobs never being publicly posted, you can bet that internal promotion or the role you want in the future will be filled through networking. Moreover, a recent study found a positive correlation between a person’s social connections at work and better mental health. Simply put, the stronger your relationships are with your colleagues, the better off your well-being will be overall.
As a new-hire, let your supervisor know you’re curious to connect with people throughout the company in order to learn their vision, get more context and better serve as a future asset. These will not only be folks within your immediate workspaces (where you’ll likely spend most of your time), but ideally employees who work in other departments as well.
That being said, important to find out what the best form of communication is with these new colleagues, whether it’s via email, phone, or if they prefer you to simply show up to their office during specified hours.
4. Do Your Job Prep & Allow Yourself Time Between Jobs to Transition.
“So, when can you start?” the boss asks after your interview.
At that moment, everything inside of you may want to respond with the word “immediately,” but that may not be such a good idea. This is especially true if you just stopped working a previous job, and haven’t had any time in-between for yourself.
A proper transition can be the difference between getting a good or bad start in your new position. Making a big change, such as a new job, jerks you out of your comfort zone which stimulates your prefrontal cortex, (the portion of the brain responsible for impulse control and insight) and the amygdala (area of the brain responsible for the flight or fight fear response). Your brain and body go into a heightened state of survival, which, if sustained over a long period of time, leaves you depleted, much like a motor that is idling too high for too long.
In order to walk into your workspace with a clear mind, take some time to focus on your health by getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy and doing what you can to avoid alcohol or tobacco.
So relax, because the hard part (getting hired) is over, and now it’s time to breathe. Most employers will not rescind an offer because you simply need a couple of weeks to prepare for the new role; in fact, that request is standard.
Most people leave jobs because they don’t like their work environment, or their boss, both of which aren’t enjoyable situations, and if you aren’t careful, this negative environment can overflow into other areas of your life.
Here are the top 10 reasons employees leave their jobs:
- Bad boss
- Boredom and underchallenged
- Poor relationships with coworkers
- Lack of opportunities to use skills and abilities
- Disconnect of daily work to overall business goals
- No autonomy or independence
- Lack of meaningfulness in job
- Corporate financial instability
- Overall corporate culture
- No recognition from management for job performance
As you vet out new jobs, or enter into your new role, be cognizant of how these workplace attributes stack up to your idea of your dream career. Data suggests that prolonged exposure to a toxic work environment is directly linked to poor sleep quality, increased substance use and depression.
Simply put, your brain needs some time to regroup and recover. The biggest mistake you can make is looking at a new job as the magical cure-all. You likely could use some time to decompress, rest and mentally prepare for your new role.
The last thing you want is to bring your exhaustion and stress from the old job right into your new position. This means that you can enjoy some “me time” during your job transition. Go ahead, you deserve it.
If the employer gives you push back on asking for a delayed start, consider if they are the right long term fit for you. This could be a red flag of how they treat their employees, so tread lightly.
5. Do Some Job Prep Training
One of the biggest barriers to growth is the assumption that you already know what you need to know. Although you may have experience in the domain you’re working in, doing some kind of refresher or preparatory training will get you up to speed on the latest technology or industry knowledge. On average, one skill set you’ve honed will become obsolete every 5 years, so if you were at your previous job for a while, you may be behind. Even the most experienced of workers will always benefit from brushing up on the basics, especially when entering new workspaces and being around brand new people.
Skills training and technical training are productive action steps to take before beginning a new role. Sometimes, doing preparatory training for a new job will be as simple as thoroughly reading through the employee manual. The rules of the new job may be similar to your previous role, but with some nuances worth noting early on. When you intentionally observe your surroundings, you can learn faster and lead far more effectively later on. Research has found that leaders with a preference for listening are rated as significantly more effective than those who spend the majority of their time talking. Plus, when you take your attention off of yourself, and place it onto the people around you, it becomes easier to relax away those first day nerves.
The above steps will definitely help you out in the first few weeks at your new workplace if you apply them correctly. Your first impression could make or break the success of your new career, be sure to do it right.