Don't Show Up Unprepared for a New Job

Alfred Lua / Written on 09 May 2021

I'm starting my new job at ReferralCandy tomorrow but the preparation for it has started long ago. How early? During my interviews.

For small companies, the people who interview us are most likely also the people who will be working closely with us. That's why they are part of the interview process. In my case, I spoke with the CEO, co-founder, head of design, engineering manager, head of customer success, and the marketing team. Since I'll be working closely with them, any impressions I gave during the interviews would have influenced the start of our working relationships. Those impressions won't determine the working relationships forever but it's helpful to start well. (That being said, if you are being hired, chances are they like you already!)

I don't like to feel unprepared for anything. After I accepted my offer, I got down to work.

Get to know people

Even though I don't start until tomorrow, I have already met several people on the team in person or over a video call. I find this important because I want to know the team and understand the culture, ways of doing things, team dynamics, and processes as soon as possible. Then I can hit the ground running on Day 1. I'm excited about the companies I join, and I like to contribute to the company as soon as possible. For example, before I was hired as a Community Champion at Buffer, I already knew several Buffer employees and was helping out in the Buffer community. (It is also more fun when you can make friends at work.)

If your new company has an office, it might be easy to get to know a range of people because you will bump into them somehow. If you are joining a remote company, you should be reaching out to teammates to get to know them. There will be a few teammates who are more proactive. But I speak from experience that while I love chatting with new teammates, I always felt the inertia to reach out. While existing teammates should be welcoming us, it's our responsibility to get to know them. Don't wait for people to come to you.

Who did I talk to? I started with the marketing team since I'll be working most closely with them. Then I chatted with the CEO (who will be my manager), the cofounder, the operations person who is in charge of onboarding me, my onboarding buddy, and a UX designer. I have also lined up several calls next week.

Know the customers

The best thing you can do as a marketer is to know your customers well. It'll help you understand how to reach and engage them, write more persuasive copy, and come up with relevant content. You can even contribute to the product roadmap because you know what they want.

While I'm familiar with SaaS marketers because I am one myself, e-commerce marketers and owners are a slightly different segment. Thankfully, I have tried running a notebook e-commerce store myself and a close friend of mine has several successful e-commerce stores. But that doesn't feel enough so I did a bunch of other things:

  • I spoke to a few SaaS marketers in the e-commerce space, including someone from Shopify.
  • I reached out to a few local e-commerce marketers to offer to buy them coffee in exchange for learning about their job.
  • I used my job change announcements on social media to help me reach and connect with people in the e-commerce space.
  • I set up Twitter lists of e-commerce marketers and owners, assuming Twitter is where they like to hang out. (I could be wrong.)
  • I asked my newsletter subscribers for their favorite e-commerce marketers.

Read strategically

I feel you can't go wrong with reading more.

I have read numerous blog posts on referral programs, e-commerce marketing, and word-of-mouth marketing in the past few weeks because that is the space ReferralCandy is in. And because I want to learn to be a good manager, I have also read High Output Management, The Making of a Manager, The First 90 Days, and Extreme Ownership.

I'll be able to apply some of the new knowledge right away, which is great. For the information and concepts that I can't use immediately, I have the "skeleton" in my brain now and hopefully will be able to "fill it up" when I'm in the relevant situations.

Enjoy the break

I took a week's break in between my jobs. Most people encouraged me to take a longer break but I didn't. For small companies, every additional person contributes a significant amount. And I'm eager to play my part as soon as possible.

I also didn't know what I would do with a longer break since I can't travel now. But I did want to give myself a mental pause before diving into the new job. So I "treated" myself with several nice breakfasts, meeting a few friends, and staying up late until 4 am.

I feel ready now. Tomorrow is Day 1. Here we go!

If you are also taking a leap and joining a new company, I know it feels nerve-racking but I hope you enjoy the switch!

Let's learn together

Join 484 others who have subscribed to get my essays on marketing (and life)