Job entry can be roughly divided into three phases: The time before the first day of work, the first week of work shortly before the end of the probationary period.
Before your first day at work
Starting a new job is a challenge for many. Not only do you have to find your way around in a new environment with new people, but new tasks and responsibilities also await you. On top of that, when you switch from studying to working, your everyday life often becomes less flexible. Since all of this can be quite overwhelming, especially to begin with, we have put together a few tips to make your start a little easier.
It is very helpful to already have routines in place before starting work. This includes, in particular, regular and sustainable sleeping and working hours. Also, you should establish a balance between work and free time. It is not advisable to cut out all leisure activities when
- Don't forget to maintain your social contacts, even when you start your career.
In stressful everyday life, it's easy to miss out on a balanced diet. Therefore, you should think about how you plan to organise your meals. For example, preparing meals ahead of time on weekends is a good way to save time during the week. A weekly meal plan from which you can deduce when and for what you need to go shopping can also be useful.
- If you already know where you are going to work, it is a good idea to do some research on the location and the surrounding area. Does the company have a canteen? Or are there good food options in the area?
Realising at the last moment that you don't have the right clothes for your new job can be quite nerve-wracking. To avoid this happening to you, take a look at your wardrobe well in advance. Think about which clothes are suitable for the job and which are not. Also pay attention to how - or whether - different pieces can be combined appropriately. If you realise that you don't have enough suitable clothes, write a detailed list of the things you still need.
- Consider the industry and the style of clothing that is common in that industry. Briefly researching the company itself can also be helpful. Maybe you can even find a video of a company profile that could help you?
- If you are still unsure about what style of clothing is appropriate, you can use your clothes from the interview as a starting point.
- A good rule of thumb is that it is better to arrive overdressed and then, if necessary, you can always tone it down (for example, by taking off your tie and blazer).
When you come home from work, you should be able to relax and not have to deal with annoying neighbours or flatmates. Long commutes are also time-consuming in the long run. If you don't feel comfortable in your current living situation or are planning to move for other reasons, you should look for suitable accommodation early on. Think carefully about what you are looking for, what criteria need to be met and what is practical but not necessary. Also make sure that you don't plan your move for too close to your first day at work. This will give you time to settle in and avoid additional stress.
Finally, you may have to deal with some housekeeping issues. For example, you should clarify whether you need a new bank account, how much money you will have to put aside for taxes and insurance with the new job, and whether a new public transport season ticket or railpass would be worthwhile. If you move, you will also have to take care of tasks such as registering and de-registering with the local authorities.
- It's also advisable to think about how you want to keep track of your bank account inflows and outflows.
If you already have a job lined up, it may be worth asking for introductory material in advance. This way you can prepare yourself in advance and familiarise yourself with the company's processes. Be aware, however, that you will be expected to show up (at least partially) prepared.
The first week at work
Your first week in your new job has begun! Here are some useful tips to help you get started successfully.
Good preparation can take away some nervousness. To do this, go through your notes from previous interactions with your employer, write down any important names and, at best, do some brief research on the current developments in the company or the industry. We recommend asking in advance what the familiarisation phase will be like: Is there perhaps already a plan or a standard process? If not, make sure you know what information you need to get started. Also check that you know who is responsible for you, who you need to meet and when you need to be where. This includes knowing how to get to your place of work and how long it will take to get there in the morning, including traffic jams or tight connections. Ensure that you arrive on time in the morning - or ideally a little before the agreed appointment.
- If you do not yet know what to expect at your workplace, it is advisable to bring the most important materials yourself. If you notice during the first day that you are still missing essential things or information, such as passwords, then write yourself a detailed list before reaching out to your contact person.
To save yourself stress in the morning, you should prepare your clothes the night before, especially for your first day at work. If you are unsure of the appropriate dress code, opt for something a little too formal rather than too casual. You can also use the clothes you wore to your interview as a reference. If necessary, you can always adjust your clothing style after your first day at work. Make sure that your clothes fit well and that you feel comfortable wearing them.
- Don't forget to check the weather forecast. Pack an umbrella or even spare clothes rather than risk starting your first day of work soaking wet.
Start your first week with a positive attitude. Give yourself time to get to know the company and its processes. Approach your new colleagues in a friendly and polite manner and show interest in other people during conversations with them. Use shared breaks to get to know your team and their habits better (e.g. having lunch together). Remain modest and, especially when it comes to private topics, keep a low profile for the time being. Try to show your appreciation by remembering the names of the people you are talking to.
- If your supervisor does not introduce you to your new team, you should proactively approach your colleagues yourself.
- Try to absorb the company culture on your first day at work and adapt to it. This includes, for example, how to address each other and general manners.
- Be open to feedback and find out whether regular feedback meetings are planned.
Asking questions can help you find your way around the new company more quickly. However, you should make sure not to overwhelm your contact person with countless questions and not to ask questions that you could have answered yourself with a little research. If, on the other hand, you don't understand something or get stuck in your work because you lack information, you should take a proactive approach and ask your contact person.
- Especially at the beginning, you’ll be bombarded with a lot of new information. In order to keep track of everything and not have to ask questions all the time, you should write down the most important information.
Reflection after three month or before the end of your probationary period
After about three months or shortly before the end of your probationary period, you should reflect on whether you are satisfied in your job and how you would like to shape your future career. Here are some questions to help you with your reflection:
- Does the job meet your expectations?
- Can you contribute your own ideas or existing knowledge and develop them further?
- Are you adequately challenged and supported?
- Which further education or coaching do you need? Are those measures supported by the company?
- Do your tasks correspond to those specified in the contract?
- Do you feel comfortable in the prevailing corporate culture?
- Do you like working with your team and your supervisor(s)?
- What opportunities are there for you to advance in the company?
- Do you feel you are treated fairly?
- Is your compensation commensurate with your performance? How are any pay increases handled?
- Are any compromises you have to make acceptable in the long run?
- Is the balance between different work locations right for you?
- Are the working hours sustainable?
The first few weeks in a new job can be challenging and mistakes can happen. Therefore, make sure you are always authentic, honest and willing to learn.
- If you notice things in the company that could be improved, think carefully about how and when you want to communicate the criticism. Give yourself time to understand the company and, rather than simply lambasting the old ways, try to demonstrate the benefits of a change. Also take into account the suggestions or comments of the other person.