How to Prepare BEFORE Starting Your New Job
What you can do to get off on the right foot at your new job, then hit the ground running!
I've seen it over and over again, one of the biggest mistakes new hires make is neglecting to be proactive before beginning their new job.
When you start at a new company, the expectation is not that you will walk in the door on day one and be pre-trained and ready to go. But maybe there is a way to not only make an incredible first impression--but actually be walking the walk and talking the talk, much sooner.
I've found that when new hires put in the energy to prepare for their new job in the ways I'm about to tell you, they make a jumpstart out of the gate in their training process and end up adjusting to their jobs much more quickly.
Here are ten tips to propel you forward. For convenience in referencing, I've broken them up into three stages--Engage With the Company, Engage With the People in the Company, and Know the Competition & Industry. Pst--don't miss the very important bonus tip at the end!
Engage With the Company
1. Study up on the company and their products & services
You got hired by a new company (and because you were a proactive interviewer, you read their website before the interview), but now is the time to refresh on who these people are and what it is they do.
What are their products and/or services? What makes them unique? In large part, this information is all available to you through their website. Become familiar with how they refer to their products and services.
2. Familiarize yourself with what is currently going on in the company
Read the company's blog(s) or news. Look for press releases. What kinds of events do they have going on? It is important to know where the company is at in terms of their growth and progress, as well as their public standing.
3. Get to know the company & those in it
An important page on the website to review is the company's "About Us." School yourself on the story of their origin, including who the founders were and the current executives are. Get to know the team members (if anything it will help you learn names more quickly!).
4. Experience what it is the company has to offer: its products & services
Think of yourself as a personal shopper, of sorts. In whatever way makes the most sense to the types of products & services they offer--try them. Experiencing the offerings of the company will give you the most complete picture of what they are really all about.
If it is a restaurant, go and try the food. Interact with the staff and see how they act. If it is a software company, watch demonstration videos, attend webinars, even potentially schedule a demo of the software itself.
Engage With the People in the Company
5. Study the people who are currently doing the job
Take a closer look at the people who are currently doing the job. Hop on Linkedin or Indeed to find the profiles or résumés of those who are presently doing what you will soon be. What attributes set them apart? Are there certain types of knowledge, skills, and experience that they have that you haven't yet acquired? Knowing your gaps in experience is the beginning to filling them.
6. Write a thank you
Send off thank you cards or emails to anyone you interviewed with; thank them for the opportunity you had to interview--and specifically for offering you the job! A simple thank you note goes a long way. It shows ingenuity and attention to detail--in large part because many people neglect to express their gratitude in a concrete way.
7. Send an introduction
A great way to start off the new relationship with your manager is by introducing yourself to them before your first day.
Find their contact information (whether by getting their email from the company website, human resources, or connecting with them on Linkedin) and send them a short message sharing a bit about yourself (similar to your elevator pitch) and expressing your excitement about getting to work at the new company with them.
They'll appreciate getting to put a face to the name, as well as having a more personal feel for who you are.
8. Ask questions
When you reach out to HR and your potential manager, be sure and ask them for suggestions on how you can best prepare to start the job on day one.
You may want to ask if they have any information they would like you to review before your first day, as well as any questions you may have about things like the dress code/policy, etc. Developing a good work relationship through open communication early on with these individuals will only benefit you during your training process!
Know Your Competition & Industry
9. Study up on your company's competitors (doing steps 1-4, but with the competition)
Once you have done steps 1-4 with the company you are about to begin working for, it is just as important to do these same steps with your new company's lead competitors. Study up on their products & services. Review their websites. And as you look into what they have to offer, try and identify what the main differences are between their companies, products, and services and yours.
It may sound time consuming to have to do all of these additional steps to learn about your company's competition: familiarizing yourself with what is currently going on in your competitors' companies, reading up on their "About Us" pages, and experiencing what products and services they have to offer. But by making time to do these extra steps, you will become a greater asset to your new team.
Maybe you won't get through all four steps for the competitors by day one at your new job, but by making an effort to obtain this knowledge, and have these experiences, you will gain fresh insight into how to help your new company be the best it can be--which will only make you more of a rockstar at your job!
10. Learn all you can about the industry
Depending on what industry you are about to enter, or if you are simply moving to a new company or job title within that industry, it is still super important to stay up-to-date with the latest industry knowledge, tips, and developments. There are so many resources out there to keep you in the loop!
Get yourself some books from Amazon or Audible. Listen to podcasts by experts, and read their blogs. Find industry groups and associations to take part in through Facebook and Linkedin. There's really no reason to remain ignorant.
Immerse yourself in the types of things they are talking about. What kinds of problems are they trying to solve, and how? You'll find that in no time you will feel up to speed with what is going on, industry wide.
Bonus Tip: Go back and review the job ad or description
In all honesty, this is one of the most important things you should be doing to prepare for that new job. It's not really a "bonus," so much as a big fat reminder to do this again well in advance of day one at the new company.
When it comes to the job description, what you are focusing on this time around are the gaps (or what you are lacking) in knowledge, skills, and experience.
I once spoke with a career coach who gave me the advice that you are never the perfect candidate for any job. There will always be things that you haven't done and skills you haven't touched. But that is part of what makes you good--your willingness to learn and expand yourself--your ability to overcome your fear of trying something new and not being awesome at it, right off the bat.
Figure out from the original job description/ad which software and skills they are looking for that you don't already know.
Google those things! Find training videos through Google and Youtube by typing in "how to use ‘insert name of training or software or skill.'" This is a great way to brush up on old knowledge and skills, or get a foundation of new information, knowledge, or skills for the job you are starting.
You've got this! You really do.
Being prepared is the key to overcoming your fears when it comes to starting a new job (or anything new at that). Do these things, and you will be sure to go in walking, breathing, and speaking confidence from day one.
I had a friend back in high school that used to say, "Does it make you nervous or scare you? If so, then you've gotta do it!" Okay friends, time to go and do!
It's not fun to have self-doubt, but if you can push through… it'll be a big opportunity for personal growth and development.