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Preparing to Start Your New Job: A Checklist

Jennifer Cochran - Sunday, January 23, 2011

Congratulations on landing your new job! The hard part may be over, but you still have some loose ends to tie up. This is a checklist of tasks to take care of before, during, and after your first day at work.

Before the First Day

Double-check everything. Cathie Faerber, managing director of The Wellesley Group, recommends confirming the details of your first day by double-checking everything: not only when and where to arrive, but also things like the office dress code. She says this will help you avoid any confusion or embarrassment.

She adds, "Verify if there are any drug-testing or pre-employment activities that need to be completed prior to your start date. And then get them completed."

Update your network on your newly employed status. "No doubt you have called upon your network to help you with landing a job," says career coach and president of Call to Career, Cheryl Palmer. Do the polite thing and let them know that you are no longer unemployed. "You can send an email to everyone, letting them know the name of the company and your job title," she says.

Remember the little people. "If you networked your way into the company, it's time to break out the thank-you notes and show some love," says career coach and author of "Career Sudoku: 9 Ways to Win the Job Search Game," Adriana Llames. Along with thanking your network contacts, take some time to thank your references. "Eighty-five percent of companies are calling on them today, and their kind words likely played a part in your landing your new role," she says.

You may also want to send token gifts (a gift card for a coffee drink, for instance) to contacts and references who were instrumental in your job offer.

During the First Day

Make a good first impression. Come into the workplace with a positive and open-minded attitude. "Be friendly to everyone, and try to understand the inner workings of the organization," Palmer recommends. She also says to accept invitations to lunch from new coworkers. "It's a way of getting to know them, and not accepting their invitations could be considered rude," she says.

Plus, if you're relocating for your new job, getting to know coworkers is a good way to start making friends and learning about your new home.

Find out what the boss's top priorities are. By knowing what your supervisor's needs are, you can start formulating a plan of attack and prioritizing work. "You don't want to wait until you are a few months into the new job to find out that what you think is a priority is not what the boss thinks is a priority," says Palmer. Also, "it's a good idea to have a few goals on paper before your first meeting with your manager," says Llames, to show your supervisor that you are proactive.

After the First Day

Get through the paperwork. Use the end of your first day to review company literature, such as information about benefits and corporate policies. "Ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the policies that you will be governed by as an employee of the firm," says Faerber. She also suggests completing all forms and returning them the next day. "Prompt attention is important--and they will be watching."

Treat yourself. "It takes 21 days to develop a habit," says Llames, so you may feel a bit tired or overwhelmed during the first few weeks at your new position. Make sure to relax, unwind, and get plenty of sleep to avoid exhaustion. Llames also says that after 30 days of working at your new job to treat yourself to something special. "Do something you normally would never do, just because you've earned it."

"Ultimately, you want to get off on the right foot," says Faerber. "These details will go a long way to make the right impression."



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