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22/06/2017

Career development: 8 ways to settle in to a new job

Getting a new job is cause for celebration, but if you want to make a good first impression, work begins immediately. How do you prepare for your first day, build bridges with new colleagues and stand yourself in good stead for the future? Matt Moody takes a look

1. Save the date

Before you start your new job, you’ll need to negotiate a start date. Taking some time out can have its benefits, says Tom Hiles, who started a new role as a planning officer with Cheshire East Council last year. 

“Taking a break gives you an opportunity to reflect on your new position – take some time to ask yourself questions like what you hope to get out of the new job, what you want to achieve, and why you decided to leave your former position.”

"A break between jobs can be a great way to relax before the challenges ahead"

A break can have practical benefits too, according to Shaun Lewis, a director at recruitment firm Lewis Davey. 

“If you’re more experienced and leaving your job, it can often be because it hasn’t quite worked out, so a break to regroup and consider your priorities is a good idea. Also, when you start a new role you should avoid taking extensive holidays in your first few months, so a break between jobs can be a great way to relax before the challenges ahead.”

2. Update your status

There’s no problem with telling friends and family as soon as you receive your offer, but when should you announce your new job to professional contacts? It’s important to be considerate to both former and future colleagues. 

“Starting a new job is always really exciting, but it’s a good idea to consider the team you’re saying goodbye to,” says Hiles. “If you’re connected with them on social media, you might want to avoid sounding too excited about leaving them behind.” 

You should also be careful not to pre-empt any official announcements, cautions Lewis. “It’s best for your new colleagues to hear about you joining directly from their boss and not through social media. Similarly, you should allow your previous employer time to speak to clients about your departure before they see the change on social media. Updating on the day you start is the safest approach.” 

3. Come prepared

Your first day at a new job is not dissimilar to an interview. You’re aiming to make a good impression on existing staff and learn as much about the organisation as you can. Preparation is key if you plan to hit the ground running. 

"Having a good understanding of current projects ahead of your first day will help you make a contribution from the get-go"

“It’s worth being bold and arranging to speak to people you’ll be working with before your first day, even if it’s just your line manager”, says Hiles. “If your team is in the middle of a big project when you arrive, they might not be able to spare much time to talk about the bigger picture and the company’s situation. Having a good understanding of current projects and live issues ahead of your first day will help you make a meaningful contribution from the get-go.”

4. Don't be late!

Punctuality is essential, so leave nothing to chance on your first day. 

“A dry run of your commute is a great idea”, advises Hiles. “Online directions aren’t trustworthy enough to risk it on your first day and show up late”. 

Timing is important for this, adds Lewis. “Journey times can double or even triple during rush-hour, so make sure your practice run happens at the same time of day you’ll be travelling to work. It’s worth checking out the parking situation, too, if you’re driving.”


The contributors

 

Tom Hiles 
is a planning officer for Cheshire East Council, specialising in neighbourhood planning


 

 

Shaun Lewis 
is director of town planning recruitment at Lewis Davey

 

 

 

Charlotte Morphet
is a local plan officer for the London Borough of Waltham Forest and co-founder of Women in Planning

 


5. Listen and learn

Most organisations will require you to complete an induction. Some of the content might seem self-explanatory, but don’t underestimate its importance, says Lewis. 

“Your induction is crucial – it’s likely that what you learn will form the bedrock of your knowledge for the future. It’s important to dismiss your preconceptions, focus on what you’re being told, take adequate notes and ask questions where things are unclear.” 

"In the rush of your first week, it can be easy to forget things, so listen to any instructions and information you’re given"

Charlotte Morphet, who started work with the London Borough of Waltham Forest early in 2017, stresses: “In the rush of your first week, it can be easy to forget things, so listen to any instructions and information you’re given, and make sure you note it down.”

If you’re being inducted as part of a group, networking starts now. First impressions count, so don’t think you can neglect your new colleagues until the induction is over.

6. Get social at lunch

Lunch can be a great time to get to know new colleagues in a relaxed setting. “Ask someone to show you their favourite lunch spot,” suggests Morphet. “It’s a great way to build a relationship, and it’s worth getting the inside track on tried-and-tested places to eat.” 

It’s a good way to get your bearings too, adds Lewis. “Get a look around and get to know both your colleagues, and the area.”

7. Build relationships with care

“You spend a large period of your life at work, and many people meet some of their best friends in the office,” says Lewis. “But don’t force it and take your time. If you go out for drinks with colleagues avoid the temptation to drink heavily due to nerves. You don’t want to be that person!” 

"Starting a new job is always really exciting, but it's a good idea to consider the team you're saying goodbye to"

Hiles agrees that building relationships can’t be rushed. “Be confident and professional while you’re getting to know your team, but don’t try too hard to make close friends in your first few weeks. Office politics and already-established personal dynamics can be complicated and hard to fathom for a newcomer.” 

When it comes to breaking the ice, there’s one tactic that never fails, according to Morphet – “offer to make the tea!”

8. Understand your workflow

An important part of settling in to a job is understanding how your colleagues like to work, and how you fit into that process. “It’s a good idea to ask your manager about their workflow,” says Morphet. “This includes how – and how often – they want to check in with you, their sign-off procedure for your work, and how you can keep each other informed.” 

Understanding the company structure is important, whether you’ll be part of a compact team or larger organisation. “Ask your boss for an organogram, so you can establish who reports to who early on,” says Hiles. “Understanding who the top performers in your team are – and why – is a good way to visualise how you can be successful.”

"Once you reach the end of your first week, you should feel satisfied but challenged with your new workload, and know what you want to prioritise"

“Once you reach the end of your first week, you should feel satisfied but challenged with your new workload, and know what you want to prioritise,” explains Morphet.

For Lewis, it’s time to take stock. “At the end of the week, review your induction notes so it is as fresh in your mind as when you were first introduced to it,” he says. “Continue to review content on a weekly and monthly basis until it is cemented in your mind.” 

Once you feel organised, relax and take some time for yourself, he adds. “Grab a drink and celebrate a successful first week in your new job!”

Image | iStock

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