How to get a handle on your new job

It’s only natural to feel some initial pangs of uncertainty in the early days of a new job.

Ordinarily you’ll have a few weeks between the job offer and start date, which gives you plenty of time to start thinking about the new role and prepare for your first day. Make contact with your new boss before you start to obtain as much information as you can about the organisation and your position, including annual reports, strategic plans, mission statements and organisational charts.

If possible, have a decent handover with your predecessor. Ask for any information you haven’t previously received to help you determine current practices, products, policies and procedures. Make notes – even about the most basic of things – and don’t be afraid to ask questions and for help if you need it. It also pays to write down people’s names and titles as you go – remembering someone makes that person feel important, and also remember you.

Once you have absorbed all the information about your new position and have gathered initial impressions of the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses, you can begin to list preliminary thoughts on the short and long-term objectives.  Make a habit of consulting your colleagues before doing anything drastic and avoid making rash decisions.

When determining your plans for the future, keep in mind you don’t have to do everything on your first day, week or even month. Research shows it can take months for some organisations to see a return on its investment of a new hire. While noone is expecting you to move mountains on your first day, some jobs will however expect you to hit the ground running. Probation periods can often be up to six months but you need to prove you were the right person for the job long before your probation’s up.

As a final tip, don’t ditch the job description. It’s an important document that you can use when preparing for a performance review, applying for a higher duties allowance or requesting a review of your current job scope.