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.
Cali Williams Yost, CEO of Flex+Strategy Group/Work+Life Fit, Inc., blogger, and author of “TWEAK IT: Make What Matters to You Happen to You Every Day,” says 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 a break 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, says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs.
If you're starting a new job, here are 12 things you should do in the interim to set yourself up for success:
1. Get organized. Minimize the stress of your first week in a new job by taking time to organize 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, a career coach, founder of The Hired Group, star of MTV’s "Hired," and author of “Hired! The Guide for the Recent Grad.”
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.
3. Disconnect. “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.”
4. Maintain your network. “Before starting a new job, take the time to ensure that you are maintaining the relationships you had formed at your previous job,” Kahn says. Make sure you have contact information for the people that you worked with in the past, and plan on checking in with them on a regular basis once you’re in your new role.
5. Update your social media profiles. Be sure that your LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook profiles are up-to-date with your new company and title.
6. Catch up with friends and family. “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.
Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert and best-selling author, agrees. “When you start any new job you should expect to work longer hours — at least the first several months," she says. "Utilize this time to make the most of being at home.”
7. 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.
8. Research your new company. In today's competitive job market, the more senior the position, the more you will be scrutinized 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.”
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. Figure out your new schedule. If your work schedule is shifting at all, it's important to organize 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.
12. 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 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 says. “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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