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BLOGStarting a job before you start

by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Management, New Job, PlanningTagged as: ,

When was the last time that you started a new project, role, or job?  Did you ever think about what you should do before you actually assumed your new responsibilities?

While it may come as a surprise, what you do just beforehand will often have a great impact on your success as you start.  Here are a few ideas that might help:

1) Go to the public library, and read the last few years’ copies of the relevant trade magazines. This may mean the industry journals, or the magazines aimed at your functional expertise, or perhaps ones that are aimed at your organization’s target markets. When you do this, you will begin to understand the key issues and trends, learn the jargon, and identify key players.  Doing this with real magazines means you also see the advertising that goes along with the articles, which are also valuable.

2) Ask your (future) colleagues for their book recommendations. In every field, there are usually one or two well-known books that are “required reading”. Reading these before you start will let you hit the road running.

3) Go online. There are great blogs and discussion forums on just about every subject – including the area of your future responsibility. Identifying these sites and spending a bit of time there will help you explore some of the more up-to-date issues and ideas. Be careful not to take every posting at face value though – it is impossible to know the motivations behind those voicing their opinions.

4) Ask your (future) colleagues for help. Specifically, find out what type of preparation they would suggest you do prior to officially starting. Read specific reports or documents? Attend a certain conference? Meet with a key client or supplier?

5) Plan your first few weeks. Even though you aren’t yet in the role, and many of the specifics might not be known, write a high-level plan describing how you will spend the first several weeks. It can always be changed once you first arrive, but thinking through these details will kick-start your arrival. At the very least, it can form part of your priorities discussion with your new manager.


Consider your co-workers, your staff, and your manager. If any of them are new, or if any of them are about to assume new responsibilities, can you make some pre-suggestions that will help them be more successful in their role? Your help now will pay dividends many times over – for both of you.  (Hint: consider flipping them this Tipsheet as well…)

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