Saying “yes!” to a job offer sets the clock ticking on a crucial moment in your career. What can you do to start out on the right foot, maximize good relationships and minimize stress as you make your job transition?
A Moment for Career Management
Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” – John Dewey
From the moment you accept a new job to your first glowing performance review on the new job, career transition can be a bit of a roller coaster ride – exciting, hectic, even stressful. You get caught up in the whirlwind of that. But it’s also an important moment for some conscious career management.
Career management means realizing that although your new job is at XYZ Inc., your real, lifetime employer is You Inc., and you’re the leader of that enterprise.
Managing “Me, Inc.” through your job transition means you’re in charge of:
- Product Development – You and your skills are the product, and your new employer is probably not the last buyer you’ll ever have for that product. How do you want to improve your skills while you’re in this job?
- Talent Development and Advancement – Do you want to advance within the company, or beyond it? To what role(s)? How will you get there?
- Finance – If you’ve been unemployed, you may have become painfully aware that you can’t count on a steady income at all times in your life. What’s your plan to create or replenish your between-jobs fund?
- Marketing Communications – Your current campaign is ending successfully! And good career marketing is ongoing.
Speaking of marketing communications, during this job search, did you find yourself thinking “I wish I had done (X) before I needed to start looking for a new job”? Did you wish you had…
…kept track of accomplishments and kudos on the job, as “resume material”?
…kept your resume and LinkedIn profile updated?
…built a network and stayed in touch?
If so, plan on taking these steps as you go along, so next time it can all be easier and even more successful.
Let’s look at some specific actions that will support your career as you’re leaving your old job and getting ready to start your new one.
Giving Notice and Transitioning Out
Before giving notice, make sure you have the new job offer in writing, including the start date. If you have any doubts whether that job will really be there – for example, if the company is undergoing extreme turmoil – clarify that with your boss-to-be before you give notice. New jobs have been known to vanish between the offer and the start date.
Gather resume-fodder details while you still can. Giving notice doesn’t necessarily mean the company will want you to stay, and you may suddenly lose access to your computer and hardcopy files. So before giving notice, and without violating agreements or ethics, gather up information that may be helpful in your next job search, such as copies of your performance reviews and details about your accomplishments (how much you increased sales last year, etc.).
Be clear what’s yours and what’s theirs. Does your LinkedIn profile belong to you, even though your employer helped you set it up and it’s connected to your business email address? Do you own your customer contacts or not? Disputes have arisen over these types of information.
Give notice verbally and in writing. Break the news to your supervisor first, in a private meeting, and agree on how and when the announcement will be made to others. Then write an email or letter stating briefly that you are resigning and when your last day will be. Stating why you are leaving is not necessary, but do include appreciation and thanks, even – or especially! – if the vibes are not gloriously warm.
How much notice should you give? Two weeks’ notice is standard; offering less is generally considered unprofessional. You might even want to offer more if leaving in two weeks would cause a hardship for the team. But don’t let it drag on and on. Your future is with the new company, so put that relationship first. Also consider your own needs for rest and recuperation. You may need to negotiate with both employers to get some time off in between. Enjoy some time off if you possibly can! Starting a new job takes a lot of energy.
Go out on a positive note. Past employers and co-workers are VIPs in your career network for many reasons – as sources of references, recommendations and information; for their influence on your reputation; and hopefully even as friends. So treat them well. Be willing to train your replacement. Create documentation for the next person in the role. Share all those tips nobody knows better than you.
Replacing Job Search with Ongoing Career Communications
Continue and nurture relationships with the people you’ve met in your search. Share your good news with everyone who helped you in any way. Maybe treat somebody to a meal to celebrate together and show appreciation for their support. Don’t be one of those people who only get in touch when they want something.
Update and improve your LinkedIn profile now; this is the very best time to do it. A year or two from now you may be looking at new opportunities, but spiffing up your profile at that point may arouse suspicion. Doing it now is safer, and will also help you look good to new colleagues who may be curious about you. Ask for recommendations from people at the job you’re leaving, especially your former boss. (Aren’t you glad you were nice on your way out?) Add your new job, either right before you start or, if you have any doubts about whether it will work out, after you’ve been on the job a little while. Don’t put it off too long.
File away notes for your next job search. If you’ve created various versions of your resume, gathered a lot of useful information about companies and job titles, and so on, you may want to refer to these items at some point in the future. Put them where you’ll be able to find them.
On Your New Job
Your first days and months on the job will be about forming relationships, learning, and making a point of achieving early wins to quickly establish yourself as a valuable team member. All of that is beyond the scope of this article, but much has been written by others about making a great first impression at your new job and ensuring that the crucial first few months will be evaluated positively.
May your new job and your career be a rich source of everything you want from it, whether that be exciting challenges and growth, making a difference, prosperity, security, camaraderie or appreciation. I wish you “all of the above”!
This article was originally posted in 2017 and has been updated.