In part one of the Successful Job Transitions series, we discussed the job search and managing the stress that goes with it.
In part two, I Quit! Now What? we covered your graceful exit.
In the last of our series we focus on starting that new job on the right foot and making the transition smoothly and completely.
Wind down, psych up
Not many can afford the luxury of taking time off, but if
you can manage at least a week to decompress between the old and the new
job, do it.
Not only will the rest help you get physically and mentally
prepared, you can also use the time to get "psyched up" about your new
Find your way ahead of time
Take a trial run to work so you know the route and can
create a Plan-B before you actually need one. Knowing you are prepared
for unforeseen snags will help you maintain a "psyched up" state for
your first day.
It will also help you on day 147 when your bus is swallowed up by a sink hole.
Dress to impress...
...as in, use an iron!
You should know ahead of starting what the dress code
is. Over- or under dressing for the job will draw attention to yourself
in a negative way.
Keep it conservative, modest and generally understated. Sure,
you'll likely be in the spotlight but your first day is no time for a
flamboyant entrance stage right.
Remember, second impressions count too
The toughie is managing the "second impression,"not the
first. What you casually say or do will either reinforce a positive
first impression or, as sometimes happens, undo it.
Play it safe, by rolling up your sleeves for work not making
off-the-cuff remarks or trying to impress. Being work-ready should be
impressive enough, don't you think?
Take time to know who your friends are
Don't confuse others' enthusiastic welcome with a genuine
concern for you or your wellbeing. That is not to suggest the people who
rush to embrace you aren't sincere, it's just that you'll have no way
You are at your most vulnerable when you start a new
job. That doesn't mean you have to be paranoid, but being guarded is
the best strategy until you know what's what.
Ah-ha! versus Huh? -- Make a note of it!
Finding your way around, remembering what order to do things
in, people's names, and who to go for this and that can be overwhelming
If your new employer offers an on-boarding program, getting
everything straight may be easier than if they expect you to learn by
Either way, keep good notes. Your memory will be the first to suffer if you get overwhelmed. Your performance will follow.
Get an org chart
It doesn't matter if you are resurfacing I-95 or engineering
nanotechnology, knowing who is who in your organization -- who has
influence and authority -- is key.
Ask for an org chart so you can see who is who and the
relationships between them. If that is not possible, or there is no
such reference, create your own. Start with the telephone directory and
start connecting dots.
Ouch! That hurts
Every job is governed by rules and regulations. The
trickiest of these are those that are implied by "rules-of-thumb."
Sometimes being most effective means testing a rule's limits which is
easier for an old-hand than a newbie.
Remember, the difference between "rules-of-bent-thumb" and
"rules-of-broken-thumb"can be more than the time they take to recover
Oh, and avoid people who suck their thumbs -- that's never a good sign.
Set expectations for now and later...
It is natural to want to do your best from the get-go, and so you
should. However, it would be wise to remember that if, for example, you
volunteer an extra hour or two in your first week it will be expected
You don't want pulling back an initial effort to something more
reasonable to be interpreted as a waning of enthusiasm, now do you?
...and for everyone you work with!
Clearly, the working relationships we have with co-workers
are different than those with higher-ups, just as we have different
interactions with clients and suppliers and security guards.
Unfortunately, common courtesy and common sense are sometimes
compromised in these relationships. It is up to you to set things
straight the first time something "uncommon" happens.
Not only on your first day at work, but especially so.
Yes, you're important
Mother used to say, "It's nice to be important but more
important to be nice." Now, while there may be exceptions made for
corrections officers and drill sergeants it is always a good idea to
smile a lot, dish out (sincere) compliments, and generally do the
things that will draw people toward you.
However, if you find yourself doing these things because you have a need to be liked or, worse, loved, get a dog.
No monkeys, please
It should be clear from the get-go who gives you work.
Knowing you may not know better, you may encounter people who want to
get a monkey off their back and ask that you do this and that with the
seeming authority of a boss.
Don't fall into the trap of picking up extraneous work that properly belongs to another -- avoid monkeys at all costs!
Get permission to ask questions
Avoid the awkwardness of asking one too many questions by
saying up front that you understand a lot of questions can be trying. If
you sense that is becoming the case, simply ask: "I sense that another
question will annoy you, right?"
Most people will say, "No" which is your cue to go ahead -- ask
another question! If they say, "Yes" innocently ask who you might talk
to get your other questions answered.
It's still OK to be antisocial
Don't be inviting everyone you meet to connect with you on
social networking sites. Besides the potential pitfalls of wasting time
and unnecessary personal exposure, now is the time for building real
life, bricks and mortar relationships that are defined by work and not
If you want to fit in, work is the place for that, not the Internet.
Set a goal path
Map out what the first 90 days on the job should look like.
What do you want to be able to do six weeks into the job? Where do you
want to be three months in?
Once you have those types of questions answered prepare a list
of things you'll need, and who can help you, so that you can meet those
goals and more.
Enjoy your job, but keep your resume up to date
While it might seem counterintuitive to start a new job by updating
your resume, why leave it until your next job search transition? After
all, you were looking for a job when you found this one, remember?