What should you do in that strange limbo period after you’ve accepted a job offer and before you have started your new job — apart from congratulating yourself and indulging in a few celebratory drinks, of course? Should you be settling old scores with your boss or coworkers? Should you badmouth your employer on social media? Should you do absolutely nothing but wait?
I probably wouldn’t advise any of these actions, as they are generally negative and self-defeating, and they don’t move you towards your new goals. Instead, I would recommend that you focus on positive actions to maximize the potential future value of your relationships with your old employer and colleagues and to increase your ability to hit the ground running and excel in your new role.
To this end, I have outlined four important things to do before your first day at your new job:
1. Preserve, Consolidate, and Use Your Existing Relationships
Your current colleagues at your soon-to-be former employer will make up your future network, and they could help you get jobs in the future, or even make new business contracts. It’s also likely that some of the people in your network may know people at your new employer, to whom they can refer you. These people may also know a little bit about how that business works, and they may be able to give you some useful pointers to help you acclimate yourself quickly and succeed. Otherwise, they may simply have some tips and advice to help you make a great start in your new role.
The point is that you shouldn’t take your existing organization for granted: it may still be able to serve you well in the final weeks before you leave. Network to the maximum during this period: make time with your existing colleagues in order to bury the hatchet where necessary, exchange contacts, tap them for knowledge and connections, thank them for their help, and offer to reciprocate in the future. Actively preserving and priming your existing network is one of the key positive actions to take before you begin your new job.
2. Ask to Join a Social or Team Meeting at Your New Employer Prior to Day One
It’s much easier to prepare for day one if you know what to expect in terms of culture, personalities, and go-to people. You’ll feel much less like a deer in the headlights. In fact, research shows that new hires who build effective information relationships actually onboard faster and get up to speed more quickly.
Contact your new manager and ask whether you would be able to tag along to an after-work happy hour or attend a weekly team meeting to help you meet your new teammates and get into the rhythm of the business.
3. Start Building Your Relationship With Your Future Boss
Research from Dale Carnegie Training (and others) suggests that your relationship with your boss can be one of the most important factors driving your engagement level and future success within a business.
Start trying to cultivate your relationship with your boss before day one. Contact your future boss and demonstrate your enthusiasm by asking them to recommend any reading material that might help prime you for your new role. Of course, you should consider that your new boss might be pressed for time; if so, you can suggest several pieces of reading material and ask them to recommend the most pertinent one.
Alternatively, you could perhaps start sending your new boss a few links to relevant stories or news pieces that may be beneficial to them as a way to show your value. You could also comment on a tweet or blog post that they have written in order to start building bridges and fostering familiarity.
4. Ask for Your Orientation Program in the Week Before You Start
If you are joining a highly disciplined blue chip, odds are that the company will have a highly orchestrated induction and orientation process, and it may be able to send you some prereading material to help you prep and address your first-day nerves.
If you are joining a smaller company, there’s a good chance your new employer may not have a very tightly run program. In this case, your advanced contact can serve as an important reminder that you are coming, triggering the company to start getting your orientation program together and reducing the possibility that your first day will be a chaotic one.
Remember, when reaching out and connecting with colleagues at your new business, you are not just trying to build relationships. You are also trying to pinpoint what your key priorities might be and what’s currently exciting your boss or keeping them up at night. Identifying these things before you begin a new job can help you make the biggest possible impact on your boss’s life in the shortest possible time after joining.