From Incite 18: building better relationships

Congratulations, you got through the selection process, and they chose you for the position. So what next? Making a successful transition into a new job is always a challenge. Jo Garsden gives some advice.

The good news is that your new bosses want you to succeed. Recruiting a new staff member is a significant investment for any organisation.  Just think of the amount of senior staff time involved in drawing up the job description, shortlisting and interviewing. The reality is often the interview date is pushed back much later than the project really warrants meaning the successful candidate is often encouraged to start immediately. Given that it normally takes time to get anyone new up and running in their role, this is not a process that employers can easily afford to get wrong.

Before you start, it’s a good time to familiarise yourself with the organisation in more detail. Have another look at their website, see if they have a twitter feed, perhaps Google the key staff and see what they’ve been up to. This should also point you to any recent publications, give you an idea of regular conferences they attend and where they fit into the organisation.

Now’s also a good time to think about your new role and what is expected of you. Between the job description and your interview you should be able to get a feel for what the immediate priorities are. Ask yourself, what’s likely to be my top three priorities in this role? Who will I need to work with to meet these priorities? What resources will I need to have access to? It’s also important to consider how your performance might be measured; this can vary in emphasis between employers so it’s good to be clear on this from the start.

As a researcher, you also need to be thinking about your own research agenda. What do you want to achieve in terms of your own research during the duration of this role? Are there areas of overlap between your previous research and your new role? Are there any win-win opportunities that would meet your own goals as well as your new employer’s goals? Publications and grant applications are obvious goals you might want to set yourself, particularly if your new role is a fixed-term contract.

Start identifying networks that you might want to link to, both internal and external. If it’s a new area of research then find out what are the key professional groups and how you can become a member. Hopefully you’ll be able to present a convincing case for your employer to cover membership costs. It’s good to get on useful mailing lists as soon as possible to help build your networks and get a feel for where the strengths and expertise in the field lie. If you are relocating there might also be social groups you want to link to. Most Universities have an extensive sports and exercise programme which should be relatively easy to find. There might also be staff network groups that operate across the University which would be good to connect with, for example the Research Staff Association or an international staff association.

If you’re feeling really organised, you can start to think about a timeline for the role. Are there conferences coming up? What are the deadlines for abstracts? What about grants you might want to apply for or fellow applications? Identifying key milestones at this stage will help you keep sight of your own goals as well as those for the role. By investing some preparation time before you start your new role, you can put yourself in the best possible position to hit the ground running, to make a good impression and to be able to make the most of the opportunity you have worked so hard to gain.