Suppose you were just offered a new job and the company is fairly flexible with your start date. How much time should you take, if any, between gigs? And what should you do with that time?
Career and workplace experts suggest taking at least one week off to allow yourself to refresh, recharge, and refocus — but some say two weeks is ideal, if you can swing it.
Cali Williams Yost, CEO and founder of Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc., blogger, and author of “TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen to You Every Day,” told Business Insider that taking time off can help you mentally prepare for this next big chapter in your life. “There is always a learning curve, and you’ll want to be your best and freshest when you start.”
Taking some time between jobs also gives your brain a chance to take a break, to process leaving your old job (which can be pretty emotional, whether you loved or hated it), and to prepare for all the new challenges to come, adds Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs.
If you’re starting a new job, here are 15 things you should do in the interim to set yourself up for success:
1. Get organised
Minimise the stress of your first week in a new job by taking time to organise your personal life.
“Any projects around the house that have been nagging at the back of your mind? Now’s the time to get them done,” says Ryan Kahn, the founder of The Hired Group and creator of the best-selling How To Get Hired online course.
2. Schedule appointments and run errands
Miriam Salpeter, job search coach, owner of Keppie Careers, and author of “Social Networking for Career Success” and “100 Conversations for Career Success,” says your break between jobs is the perfect time to schedule doctor appointments and deliveries that require you to be home, and to run any errands that may be difficult to get done once you start your new job.
“Take advantage of not having to be reachable during the day, and stop checking your email or looking at Facebook for an afternoon or two,” says Sutton Fell. “This gives you a chance to reset your brain.”
Instead of staring at a screen for hours on end — which you’ll probably have to do as soon as you start your new job — pick up a book you’ve been dying to read, or go take an exercise class you’ve been wanting to try.
Take some time to re-connect with people you’ve lost touch with. Catch up with old friends and colleagues and see what they’re up to these days.
5. Update your social media profiles
We know we said earlier you should take a break from technology — but it’s ok (and advised!) to take an hour to two during your time off to update your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles with your new company and job title.
6. Spend time with your closest friends
You might not have a chance to do afternoon lunches with people for the first few months of your new job, so your break is a great time to do these, says Sutton Fell.
7. Spend time with family
Nicole Williams, a career expert and best-selling author, suggests using this break to spend time with family.
“When you start any new job you should expect to work longer hours — at least the first several months,” she says. “Utilise this time to make the most of being at home.”
8. Take a mini-vacation
Whether you can get away for a night or a week, take a trip somewhere to recharge, see new sights, and take full advantage of your time off, Sutton Fell says.
9. Research your new company
In today’s competitive job market, the more senior the position, the more you will be scrutinised in those first few months, Kahn says.
“You’ll be expected to hit the ground running versus spending time learning the ropes. Get a head start by researching the industry and the company, and learning as much as you can about the position and the team you will be working with,” he suggests.
10. Get everything you may need ready
Need a new wardrobe for the new job? Now is the time to go shopping. Does HR require you to bring in a passport or social security card on day one? Track those down and put them in your wallet.
Figure out what you may need to start the new job, and have those things ready to go.
11. Figure out your new commute
Do a couple of practice runs to figure out the easiest or fastest way to get to your new office. Don’t wait until the first day to experiment.
12. Set new near-term personal and professional goals
Give some thought to what you want to do differently from the start in this new job, Williams Yost says.
“Are you going to try to wake up earlier and get to the gym a couple of days a week? Are you going to try to schedule a networking lunch outside of the office once a month?” Use this time to establish a plan.
13. Reflect on your long-term career goals
During this rare lull between jobs, think about where you are headed. Where do you want to be in five years? In 10 years? How will this job help you get there? Coming in knowing where you’re going will help you stay on the right path from day one, Kahn says.
14. Figure out your new schedule
If your work schedule is shifting at all, it’s important to organise things like childcare, household responsibilities, and your personal routine, Sutton Fell says.
Salpeter says if you altered your sleep schedule at all during your time off, you should try to get into a “work-oriented sleep routine” a few days before starting your new job.
15. Relax and recharge
Don’t forget to spend some time on yourself. Take time to relax, get plenty of rest, and indulge in some pampering.
“Congratulate yourself on a job well done,” Williams Yost says. “Treat yourself to a massage, new power outfit, or a nice dinner. You landed a job in a dim market; you should take the time to be proud of yourself.”
Worried that it may be difficult to get back into the swing of things if you’re too relaxed during your time off? “Work is like riding a bike; once you start that first day, you’ll click right back in,” Williams Yost explains. “So don’t worry about being too relaxed during your break. Drink it all in. Enjoy every minute of it. Then dive into your new gig with a new outfit, fresh outlook, and happy heart.”
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