Everyone has at least a bit of ‘pre-match nerves’ before they start a new job. Here are 18 top tips to make sure those all-important first few days go as smoothly as possible.
Congratulations on nailing your job search and securing a new role!
Hopefully you have also managed to leave your previous company without burning any bridges.
You will no doubt be excited about starting your new role but also probably have some ‘pre-match nerves’.
While every individual, job and situation is different, I have drawn on my near 20 years of recruitment experience, where I have helped literally hundreds of people transfer from job to job, in order to offer you 18 pearls of wisdom to make you feel better about the move you are making – or about to make.
I am convinced they will ensure that you integrate readily into your new environment and ultimately succeed in the role. Good luck.
Firstly, don’t worry. Through the selection process, the hiring company, potentially the representing recruitment agency, and your good self have all came to the strong conclusion that you are a good fit for the job. Everyone has made a future commitment on this basis. Therefore while some ‘pre-match’ nerves are certainly natural, you can afford to be confident and both hope and expect that things will go well. Don’t waste too much nervous energy.
Occasionally, ‘mis-fits’ do happen in permanent recruitment, where the candidate resigns or is released in the initial weeks due to misunderstanding or mismatch. This is one reason why recruitment agencies typically have a guarantee/rebate period. This is never ideal but fortunately only happens around 5% of the time.
Ideally take a week or more off between jobs. Due to financial pressures and wanting to ensure consistency of earnings, it seems people typically go straight from one job on a Friday to another on a Monday. This could leave you with a spinning head, however. I suggest that the ‘head-space’ you will gain from the break will be well worth it. A proper break will allow you to decompress, get your composure together and feel ready for a fresh start.
You likely did some research before the interview but it’s always good to re-visit this or go a little bit deeper into the areas that will be directly relevant to your new role, for example, products, projects, future colleagues etc. This will help put you ‘in the zone’ for starters but also help polish your first impression as you will have something to talk about immediately with people you are introduced to.
Many corporate companies will typically have an organised ‘on-boarding’ set up where good information is provided for day 1/week 1 requirements, arrangements and schedule – to help take the stress and uncertainty out of your move. However, you may need to give them a nudge to provide info such as the dress code, what to expect and what you need to bring with you. Don’t be afraid to ask because this sets your mind at rest and is proactive and professional at the end of the day.
You will likely be bombarded with lots of information in your first week. You will be learning everyone’s names, not to mention their job roles and various different log-ins. So I suggest having a notepad with you and taking notes as and when appropriate. This again takes pressure off having to remembering more things and avoids you asking repeated questions.
Changing jobs is a stressful situation, right ‘up there’ with divorce and moving house, so there is no point in putting extra pressure on yourself. Just do your best (obviously) and try to relax as much as possible. Help yourself. The calmer you are, the clearer you will think.
It is natural at some point, maybe several points, to doubt yourself or doubt the decision to move jobs. In normal circumstances, I encourage you to keep looking forward and persevere, the feelings will pass as your confidence and capability grows in the new role.
There will be so much to learn and plenty to try not to worry about. Therefore to stay as sane as possible, you should deliberately follow the KISS principal. Keep It Simple Stupid. Just focus on coming up to speed by fulfilling the key job functions well before trying to change the whole organisation and going on to world domination!
It may be stating the obvious, but make the extra effort to build relationships. Make the first move, strike up a rapport, accept offers of help and lunch. Also don’t just focus on your peers, think 360 degrees where you get to know your bosses, subordinates, and colleagues in other areas of the business. This will help you integrate and gain sense of belonging.
I suggest, within reason, to ask as many questions to as many people as possible. As a manager, I find it’s much better to be responsible for someone who is being proactive and asking and learning as much as possible against those who sit back and waiting to be spoon-fed everything.
I encourage you to listen and observe everything you see in the initial weeks. This ‘people watching’ will allow you to get a handle on the norms, values and overall working culture. For example: What communication styles are used? What are the expectations on work? Deadlines? Working hours and breaks? The quicker you pick those things up, the easier it will be adopt and integrate.
Be prepared to listen to people at all levels and learn from them. You are still the ‘new guy’ even if joining in a senior role. Be prepared to be wrong. Be prepared to change.
A little bit is natural and forgivable, but there is nothing worse than hearing someone harping on about ‘how they used to do it’ or even worse, ‘how they have always done it’! Let it go, just listen, learn and of course bring your ideas and suggestions to the table, but sensitively, it’s important to fit in as well as to come across as smart!
You and/or your colleagues may be private people and of course be sensitive to this. However, in general, it is good to show an interest in people on a personal as well as professional basis. This is particularly important if you are getting to know a team you will be managing. This could include, hobbies, kids and pets. Maybe religion and politics can wait a while though. And as for Brexit…! You don’t want to ruffle any feathers!
Again, this is especially pertinent in a management role and assuming that I am ‘teaching granny to suck eggs’, if you are joining in such a capacity, good practice would suggest to conduct a full situational analysis in order to fully get the lay of the land. Take key people’s expertise and opinion into account before making any changes. (Measure twice, cut once).
Notwithstanding the previous point about perseverance… if it is obvious that the move was a mistake and is never going to work out, then it is likely better to pull the plug early rather than dragging out a bad situation. This will limit the wasted investment from the new employer in training someone who will soon leave. Also, you may be able to drop back into your old job if you now appreciate it’s relative merits!
You worked hard to secure this new job role which will hopefully be a catalyst for positive change in your career but also your life in general. So ENJOY it, you’ve earned it!
Hopefully, these pointers help you focus on a few simple things to best ensure that you settle in well to your new job. Focusing on the aspects that you can effect and change is always better than worrying.
I’ll finish here with a reminder that life is a journey, not a destination and change is the only constant! This is neither the first nor last major change that you will undertake in your career and indeed ‘managing’ change is a skill in itself so again enjoy your new job but don’t get ‘too comfortable’; the next big challenge (either internal or external) is likely just around the corner!
Read more: Managing your career and the ‘big picture’
And here are a few ways NOT to go about it on that first day…