You’ve spent months networking, re-tooling your resume and going on interviews, and it's finally paid off: You’ve been hired and your first day back in an office is rapidly approaching. But now what?
While the process of finding a job was stressful, returning to work after a long layoff can also cause anxiety. After all, you want to impress the boss and meet new people—and you definitely don’t want to be unemployed ever again. This can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some steps to ensure a safe return to work:
- Stay in the know. You may think you’re ready for what work has in store for you, but your industry is always changing and you need to stay ahead of the pack. Being unemployed is not an excuse for being unprepared. If you haven't been keeping in touch with the latest developments as aprt of your job search, take the time to catch up on relevant blogs and articles in your industry. Also considering talking to contacts in your field and even touch base with your future supervisors to make sure you are fully debriefed on what is expected upon your start date. All of that will allow you to hit the ground running in your new position, and help to ensure that your employer doesn't come to regret the decision to hire you.
- Prepare to be early. No one wants to be late on their first day at a new job, and it's important not to leave anything to chance. That includes such basics as laying out your work clothes the night before, getting to bed early, and having a back-up alarm just in case your main one fails. And don't leave it to the big day to find out that the rush hour train takes a half hour longer than usual: try out your new commute in advance so you know when you have to leave and how long it will actually take you. You might be able to use the trains or freeway traffic as an excuse at some point, but not when you're trying to make a good first impression.
- Be observant. When you start your first day, ask your supervisor to introduce you to some of your co-workers, so that you can get to know your new colleagues. It will help break the ice and allow for smoother conversations in the future. However, with that in mind, do not rush into the social atmosphere. Take time to observe the lay of the land. See who the movers and shakers are and try to reach out to them. It’s important to make good connections at work: getting the right person on your side now may make all the difference for keeping you employed and advancing your career down the line.
- Don’t share too much information. This means everything from not discussing your belief in the occult to not going overboard in your story on how you became unemployed. Keep the conversation simple. While people are going to ask your old job, don't take it as an invitation to tell them that your boss was a jerk. In addition to coming across as unprofessional, there's a chance that such statements could come back to haunt you—especially if your new job is in the same industry as your last one.
- Keep positive. This seems like the last step of every piece of career advice given these days, but it works. A lot can be hidden behind a smile and a can-do attitude. Even if you have to pretend, a positive attitude will mask the insecurity, the stress and the difficulty you might be having with any particular work-related task. Employers note this attitude and like positive people, as the feeling is usually contagious. Someone with a positive attitude can get away with making a few mistakes as long as they handle criticism well and learn from their errors. Positivity will take you far.