The hardest part is over. You have submitted the application, been invited to interview and got the job. Well done! However, now you will be faced with a range of new challenges as you prepare to start your new job. Here are some questions to consider and find the answers to in the first few days of a new job.
1. Who is my line manager or mentor?
Your line manager or mentor will be able to guide you in answering the rest of these questions so your first thing to do on starting a new job should be to locate him or her and introduce yourself. Good employers will make sure that your line manager and mentor spend some time with you on your first day. Usually, if you are employed in an academic job, your line manager will be the head of the department.
2. What are my initial priorities/duties?
Obviously, you need to know exactly what your job will entail. You might have a good idea about this based on the job description, but on arrival, you may find that the priorities of your company or institution are different from those you anticipated. Your role and how you receive information on it will depend on whether you are covering someone’s job, replacing a leaving employee or starting a newly created job. A pack of handover materials may be provided by the previous employee or you may be left to get on with your job with very little guidance.
3. Do I have a probationary period and how will my performance be appraised?
It is vital that you inform yourself of your terms of employment, which will be outlined in your contract. Most jobs have a probationary period in which you and your employer can decide to end your employment if problems arise. Make sure that you are aware of how long this period is. For academic roles, your period of probation could last an entire academic year. During that period your performance will be monitored so clarify with your line manager what will be required of you. You will also be offered a period of reduced work in order to ease yourself into a new job. In academic life, this often means having a lower teaching load and fewer administrative responsibilities than your colleagues.
4. What are the promotion and career development prospects here?
It may seem a little premature to be thinking about promotion when you have just started a new job, but it is important to make plans for your future career development. Talk to your new colleagues and find out how long it took them to achieve promotion. Take time to become familiar with the hierarchical structure of your new institution or company. Talk to your line manager and make it clear that you will be interested in finding out about training opportunities to improve your own performance in your role and develop as a member of staff.