5 Tips for Starting a New Job during the Pandemic

Has your career path been redirected?

A lot of changes have taken place during the pandemic. Maybe it has been enough to redirect your career path or has even allowed you to embrace new beginnings – perhaps a silver lining among the clouds. 

Whatever the result, the message is clear – resilience is the name of the game and adaptability is the new focus. If this season sees you entering a new job or role you may be wondering – how do you adjust with all the new changes, how will you make your mark despite the odds and how will you integrate with your new team in light of social distancing? 

Firstly, take time to acknowledge and celebrate this win! Whether it be as a result of an unforeseen detour or an intentional career move the outcome has been favourable.

Starting a new job or role in itself can be overwhelming, and when coupled with the nuances of this pandemic, it could be enough to heighten your anxiety. However, do rest assured that half the battle can be won with the right preparation and frame of mind. 

If your new job will see you working from home it will take a bit more thought, effort and creativity to adjust. On the other hand, if your new role finds you in the office or maybe even a blended approach, you will be required to be more cognisant of your colleagues and your interactions while adjusting to the culture and protocols of the organization. 

So, how should you prepare yourself for a quick and easy adjustment? These five tips are sure to help propel you into successfully fulfilling your new role.

#1 – Start Connecting

We are all navigating through unfamiliar territory and just like you, your employers are learning how to incorporate ‘business as usual’ in a new ‘normal’ way. If you are lucky, your employers have already figured out the details of your training and onboarding, but you must brace yourself for the idea that they just simply cannot foresee every eventuality and may have even overlooked a few steps along the way. Be forgiving. See this as an opportunity to provide constructive feedback based on your onboarding experience, that could assist the organization or department for future recruits. 

It goes without saying, introductions may look a bit different this year. While you may not receive the usual walk around the office to introduce and welcome you, it is important to make a mutual effort to incorporate yourself as part of your new team. 

You may be wondering, “What does this even look like?” Over the past few years many of us have been glued to our devices to stay connected with our friends, with our families and now …with our jobs. I like to think of it like this – we’ve been in training! All this time we have unknowingly and inadvertently been preparing ourselves for a new way of life. With this in mind, creating connections in your new working environment will entail more effort and more thought on your end.  

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Connect with your colleagues on LinkedIn. Chances are you’ll be able to start with your hiring manager. If you are informed of the names, the titles or the department that you will be working with make the effort to establish a connection via LinkedIn with your soon-to-be colleagues. This will give your colleagues time to get acquainted with the experiences and skill sets you have to offer.
  • If you’re working from home – or remotely – there is a high possibility that your department has established a forum to communicate. Once you’ve been added to this forum, do not blend in with the wallpaper. Instead, take the initiative to introduce yourself and make it known that you are looking forward to connecting with everyone individually. Be engaging in group discussions while making a significant contribution to conversations – both social and task-related.
  • Your new organization or department will likely send an email introducing you to the staff. Don’t miss this chance to connect with colleagues – responding with a “reply-all” to show your appreciation for the welcome is always advisable. Similarly, you can take the initiative to email your direct team members and supervisors that you will be working closely with to let them know you’re eager to get started working with them.
  • There is such a thing as having virtual coffee. I know, the concept was new to me too! However, the idea that you can propose a virtual lunch with your team members is a great start to building connections and learning a bit more about the organization and/or department.

#2 – Be Observant

Now that you’re probably missing out on the lunch room chatter, it will take more effort to learn about the people and departments, the culture and protocols of the company. This means you’ve got your work cut out for you.

While the in-office interactions may be limited, be open to asking questions and getting clarification when needed. It is human nature to observe the behavior and personalities of your peers especially as a new member of the team. However, with social distancing in play, you will need to develop heightened awareness to your surroundings. Being able to pick up on things like the culture of the company will assist you in easing right in, sooner rather than later.

The same applies if your new-found title entails you leading a team. Be sure to take the time to learn about the members of your team as you will need to build a greater connection to make a significant impact.


#3 – Work on Your Communication

If you’re working from home (WFH) you’ll probably rely heavily on communicating via email, phone and messaging, not to mention the ubiquitous Zoom calls.  If you’re new to WFH, take the time to refresh yourself on what is acceptable and professional messaging etiquette. It may sound simple, but it is probably so overlooked that it is easy to fall victim to utilizing the inappropriate medium of communication for a given situation. As the new player on the team, it is key to find out if a preferred means of communication is in place before you make the mistake of reinventing the wheel.  

Here are a few quick tips to guide you in your communication efforts:

  • While you may have access to your colleagues’ or supervisors’ personal contact info, be mindful that it is still their personal contact. Consider the boundaries, and take care to think through when, how and why you are reaching out and consider carefully to ensure you’re using the appropriate medium to relate the subject matter. 
  • When instant messaging, start with a short greeting upon initial contact, make sure to keep the conversation short but polite.
  • Before reaching out to your colleague consider if the message would be best relayed as a call, email or instant message. Some conversations are better by phone, while others may require the other party some time to respond, and would therefore best be communicated via email. For quick responses revert to instant messages.
  • Always be mindful of the time of day that you initiate and respond to messages. When WFH, it’s all too easy to spill over into out-of-office hours. Find out what’s expected and what’s acceptable. 
  • You may be an IM guru, but try holding off on too many abbreviations as it tends to make the conversation appear more casual than professional. Also, do not assume that your audience is familiar with all the IM lingo you may be versed on, keep it safe and construct your messages like you would an email. BTW (see what I did there) always proofread your messages.

Another aspect of communication to consider is how you relay to your direct line of authority. If you’re WFH, your supervisor or manager won’t have the pleasure of popping up by your desk to check how things are going, or to follow up on an assigned task. Keep them in the loop by sharing the progress of your assignments without leaving it up to them to initiate.

#4 – Get Familiar with Apps & Tools

Never has the efficiency and effectiveness of our workday been as vital to our work-life as it is now. Of course, you will need to become acquainted with the systems and tools of your new working environment. However, chances are your new organization or department has been thrust into incorporating new systems and tools to better manage, monitor and measure productivity. Hopefully, they have already gone through the implementation phase of these new tools, but bear in mind, while the adjustment may be new to you, it may also be new to your team. 

If possible, it would be ideal for you to get familiar with the systems and tools being used – even before your start date. This way, you’re not only able to hit the ground running but you’ll also be able to contribute to a smoother transition for your team. Don’t be shy to ask your hiring manager to share a list of applications and tools being utilized.

If your job function entails meeting with clients, vendors, suppliers or even spearheading a team you will also need to find new and innovative ways to stay connected while limiting face-to-face interactions. There are a wide range of tools to ensure you are still able to keep engaged. Do your research and find which works best in meeting your needs. 


#5 – Be Mindful of Personal Space

Some organizations have continued with in-office duties throughout the pandemic, others have returned to fully in-office work, whereas others have implemented a blended approach to WFH and in-office. When working in the office, it is more important than ever that you are both aware of and respectful around people’s boundaries. 

By limiting face-to-face interactions, you avoid the risk of invading individual’s personal space. However, relationships thrive on personal contact and so where possible it’s important to have face-to-face interactions at an appropriate distance. This is one thing that many people have missed during social distancing and office closures. So, find ways to see each other in person if it is possible, depending of course on the rules and restrictions that are in place where you work.

Also, be aware of each person’s individual preferences and needs. If you are going to be present in someone’s personal space, be respectful by maintaining the required social distancing and avoid unnecessary touching of items and surfaces within their space. 

By displaying a sense of consideration of people’s health, safety and personal space you’ll go a long way in developing mutual respect and setting the tone for reciprocation in your new role. 


And finally…

The truth is you won’t be able to plan for every eventuality that may exist in your first few weeks in your new role, however, putting thought into an easier transition amid the chaos of a pandemic will certainly lessen the load for both you and your new team.

If you’re looking to move into a new role and need some help, check out our short online course Grow Your Career. Learn how to determine your career path, locate and land that hard-to-find ideal job, and succeed in the new role.