Starting a new job is an exciting but testing time when you will face many new challenges. While you may be justifiably proud of yourself for having completed the application process successfully and secured the position you wanted, this is not a time to rest on your laurels. Thinking about how you will approach the first few days and weeks in your new job and planning ahead for any potential issues you will face will help you to:
  • reduce your stress levels
  • become productive more quickly
  • be accepted by new colleagues more quickly
  • prepare for the cultural differences in your new organisation
  • significantly reduce the potential for embarrassment which can arise in a new situation
The following checklist outlines practical steps which can be taken before you take up your new position and during the first few days in the job.

1) Act positively before you leave your present job

Make sure you sort out issues such as pension arrangements, private health insurance and your P45 before you leave. Return any company property you have. Does your contract of employment include any clauses restricting your movements or actions in the future?

2) Consider the implications of the new job for your work-life balance

Recognise that, whatever the level of the job, there will be a 'settling in period' during which extra focus and concentration will be required. The balance between your private and working lives may change, if only for a certain length of time, and your partners and family members will be affected. It is preferable to discuss this in advance to avoid or minimise any potential problems.

3) Research the background of your new employer

You will no doubt have carried out research into your new employer before your interview. Recognise that the more you know about the organisation you will be working for, the easier it will be for you to fit in during the initial period in your new job. Seek to identify:
  • your new employer's competitors
  • their relative degree of success or failure
  • the basis on which they compete (such as price, quality or service)

4) Make a good first impression

Check the joining instructions you have been given - where and when you are expected and whom you should report to. Make sure that you have familiarised yourself with the route to work and know how long it will take you to get there, making allowances for rush-hour traffic, if necessary. Dress appropriately, be friendly to everyone, take a lively interest in what you are told and show enthusiasm.

5) Take full advantage of induction programmes

The induction programme organised by your new employer should provide you with the information you need to do your job. Be prepared to listen and learn and don't be afraid to ask lots of questions.

6) Make sure you are clear about practical matters

These include day-to-day working practices as well as more long-term matters and include:
  • start, finish, coffee and lunch times
  • payment of wages and salaries
  • holiday entitlements and procedures for booking leave
  • performance appraisal
  • additional employee benefits and training opportunities
  • trade unions recognised by the organisation

7) Investigate the background if your job is newly created

Find out whether the job to which you have been appointed is a new one and if so, try to discover why it was created. Was it to solve a problem and if so, what was the problem? Find out what the context of the newly created job is - what future plans there are for it and, most of all, what expectations there will be of you as the newly appointed post holder.

8) Build relationships

Your relationships with your immediate colleagues, your boss and your team will be critical for your success in your new role. Seek out those who are best placed to help you find your way around the organisation and ask for their assistance. Don't limit your contacts to your immediate department - interacting with others from across the organisation will help you gain a better understanding of the organisation as a whole and how your role fits within it.

9) Be prepared for that bewildered feeling

You will meet a lot of people and have many new processes to learn in your first days and weeks in a new job. Understand that it is natural to feel disoriented or even overwhelmed to start with.

10) Don't panic if the new job doesn't immediately meet expectations

The first weeks in a new job can vary tremendously. They may be very busy and pressured, making you feel that you have been thrown in at the deep end, or progress may seem frustratingly slow, as you are provided with lots of orientation material but feel you are not yet being given the opportunity to show what you can do. You may be getting on well with you colleagues immediately, or you may find them unapproachable. Don't jump to the conclusion that the move has been a mistake. Give yourself time to settle in!

11) Set your objectives and plan for the future

It is important to consider what you want to get out of a new job and to set objectives for what you want to achieve. Set realistic and achievable goals, define what success will look like and start to develop plans for achieving them. Decide what your priorities are and start to gather the knowledge and develop the relationships that will help you to achieve them.   This is an edited extract from Managing Yourself: Your Guide to Getting it Right, from The Checklist series. Follow the link below to purchase: