How to Prepare for a New Job—After the Offer

How to Prepare for a New Job—After the Offer
by Jessica Chang
September 28, 2016
The job offer is one thing. Here's how to navigate the days leading up to a new job. 
I recently received and accepted an offer from a company—just like that.

Well, OK, not really. This is how it goes: after many sleepless nights, numerous interviews, the final negotiations, the constant anticipation, finally, came the phone call. The phone call that changes everything. If this is you, do what I did.

Celebrate, give yourself a pat on the shoulder, and go out and treat yourself to something nice because you deserve the reward. But after the adrenaline rush subsides, take a moment to think about what your next steps are. Here were the steps I took when preparing to move on.

Leave your current employer on a good note

Do your best to set up a good transition plan for your replacement and close any foreseeable gaps. Be honest in your exit interview—meaning provide constructive feedback if there are things you think your current employer could improve. Lastly, write a heartfelt but concise farewell email to all that you've worked with. Make sure to include your email in there, and a link to your LinkedIn profile so people can stay in touch with you. This is the last chance for you to make an impression on this professional network before starting out in another, so make it count. 

Mentally separate yourself from the old so you can  embrace the new

This is more of a philosophical tip than a practical one. At past jobs, I've seen people join my team who can’t stop themselves from using lingo like: "This is how XYZ used to do it" or: "The way that we did it before was..." Let's just conclude once and for all that this sets the wrong tone. If you have recommendations, just offer them. Don't position it as "the way they did it,” and make sure that you adapt your suggestions to best suit your new company. Most importantly, observe first, then make suggestions. And FYI: asking  “Why do we do it this way?" and not "Why do you do it this way?" is a great tactic to show you are ready to embrace the new culture and environment (Career Girl Daily). 

Be strategic in building your new brand 

The same way you prepared for all those interviews, you should be thinking about how to rock your first day of work, first week of work, first month, quarter, and so on. Read up on the 30-60-90 Day Plan (Business Insider) and think about the personal goals you'd like to reach on Day 30, Day 60, and Day 90. Think about what you want to be known for, because that is going to be your professional brand. It doesn’t have to perfectly align with who you were before taking the new job.

Also, fine-tune your elevator pitch. As part of your introduction to new teams and new people, one of the first things they will ask is "Where did you come from?" and "What did you do before?" Be ready to give a concise but to-the-point summary that will effectively summarize your past experiences (and even impress your new coworkers a little bit). 

Use common sense 

Listen more than you speak, turn off your personal phone, curb your (hyper)enthusiasm, observe the culture. Amanda Augustine, a career expert at The Ladders, recommends that you "learn who the players are" specifically because "companies have their own language and inside jokes. Look for the one person to help you decode the acronyms and office politics." (Business Insider)

These are all more common sense than actual tactics, but the trick is to remember these things while you are under the pressure of adjusting to a new environment, constantly meeting new people, and wrapping your head around how to hit the ground running with the new employer. 

You should also be ready to throw the work-life balance out the window for a while (The Every Girl) and willing to log some extra hours to get up to speed. These extra hours spent in the beginning equal success later on, and they also demonstrate that you’re dedicated to the role.

That being said, per the Harvard Business Review: "Don’t stay late just because you want to be perceived as a hard worker. Mostly everyone sees through that ploy." Instead, make these extra hours meaningful by focusing on getting up to speed and how this job will help with your career goals. 

Rethink your strengths and weaknesses

Don’t forget to take stock of the work you completed with your last employer and think of all your successes and failures. Think about how they made you feel, how they changed you, and what you did. How can you replicate the successes, and avoid making the same mistakes? It may help to write these things down so you can visualize them more clearly. Take the highlights from this list, and make them your starting point at your next job. Lean on your strengths, and find ways to develop things you are weaker in. 
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What were the things you did right, or wrong, when you first started your job?