You nailed the job interview, and now the hiring manager wants to know when you can start, and whether you're planning to take some time off between leaving your current gig and starting the new one.You may be tempted to take a week off just to put your feet up, or start as soon as possible to avoid any gaps in your income, but here's how to make the right decision and determine whether you're mentally or emotionally ready to start a new job right away.
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Can You Afford A Break?
The first question to ask yourself when considering your new job's start date is how long you can afford to be out of a job. In some cases, your new employer may want you on the job as soon as possible, and if you can't afford to take time off in between jobs, even for a few days or a long weekend, then the decision is already made for you. If you can afford a few days away from work, have your own emergency fund or just need some time to recharge, you may want to consider a couple of days in between jobs to help you get in the right mindset to start a new gig. Here are some basics you should consider.
- Can you survive missing a pay? Make sure you can afford to take a few days off to relax before you make the decision.
- When does your new employer want you to start? You want to make a good impression on your new employer, and while most won't mind if you want a few days off between jobs, if your new employer wants you to show up the Monday after your last Friday at your old job, you may have an uphill battle trying to squeeze in a few days off in between to relax. Make sure your new employer is OK with you delaying your first day, or schedule your last day at the current employer so you can get a few days off between jobs.
- Do you need time to recharge? If you're leaving your current job because you're burnt out and just need time to get away from what you're doing, you should definitely consider a little time between jobs. You don't want to start the new job carrying all of the emotional baggage from your last job -- you want to go in with fresh eyes, eager to learn new things and meet new people. You shouldn't be world-weary on your first day at a new gig.
- Do you have questions for your new boss that you want answered before you get there? Are there any lingering questions you might have about the position that you want answered before you show up? You may want to take a day or so to get your thoughts in order and ring them with questions or thoughts so you can hit the ground running when you arrive on your first day.
Once you have the basics out of the way, you can address some more personal questions and considerations that might make you want to take a few days between jobs.
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Are You In The Right Frame of Mind For A New Job?
Stop and take stock of your mental, emotional and physical health. How has your diet been? Have you been exercising regularly and getting enough rest? They may seem personal, but all of them have an impact on your professional performance, and if you those personal habits aren't where you want them to be, you won't find a better opportunity to take the time to correct them than the time in-between jobs. It might be a good opportunity to infuse your diet with healthy foods, reboot your sleep cycle, schedule some time to get to the gym, or even let go of bad habits like working long hours overtime or bringing your work home with you. If you need a few days to put your mind and body in order and try to establish some good habits and behaviour patterns before you have a new job to worry about and foul them up, take some time off between those two jobs to lay the groundwork of what will hopefully be a healthier and happier you, complete with a new job to match.
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How Stressed Out Did Your Last Job Make You?
If one of the reasons you're quitting your current job for a new one is because you're just fed up with the nonsense you put up with at your current job, you should take some time to relax and de-stress before you start the new one. Even if you're feeling good about having left the old job, odds are that you're still a little tired, sleep deprived, or worked up over the process of leaving a job. It can't hurt to take a few days off. However, if your last few days were easy ones or your previous employer just told you to not bother coming back after you put in your two weeks, you may have all the time you need to recharge and get yourself in the right mindset for a new opportunity. Ultimately, only you can decide whether the stress and baggage from a previous job outweighs the happiness and excitement you have for a new job.
How Stressed Out Will This New Job Make You?
Even if your old job didn't stress you out, your new job may be the biggest professional challenge you've faced. If you know you're about to walk into one of the most hectic, busy, and possibly stressful positions you've ever had, you may want to take a little time before you walk in the door for the first time to get yourself psyched up for it. Stress cuts both ways -- even if your last job let you off the hook easily, if your new job is looking like it'll be a trial (even if it's a trial you happily signed up for), you won't do yourself any favours by rushing into it without taking time to prepare.
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Do You Need To Brush Up On Your Skills?
In the same vein as stress and emotional baggage, if you think your new job will challenge you in ways you've never been challenged before, or you know from your interviews that your new job will require you to use some skills and abilities you haven't used in a while, it may be an absolute must to take a few days off between jobs to brush up.
This is especially important for developers or designers who will be required to use new tools or languages that they know but haven't used, or jobs where your organisational skills and productivity techniques will be put to the test. If you're going to manage people, now might be a good time to brush up on your management skills, or take a couple of days off to read your favourite management books or case studies. Even your personal productivity technique may need tweaking for a new job with new challenges. Take some time to get your skills and tools sharpened and in order before starting your new job.
Do You Need To Make Any Changes to Your Wardrobe, Workspace Or Buy New Equipment?
You have a new job, but do you need to buy new clothes? Perhaps you'll be working from home and your desk just isn't set up for long hours of work. Do you need to entertain clients in your home office now or plan for a new commute? Maybe you need to buy some new equipment, like a new laptop or monitor for your home office, a new laptop bag for work, some new notebooks or just desk organisation tools to help you get settled at the new job. The last thing you'll want to worry about when you start a new job is whether or not the Staples will be open on your way home from a new office on a drive you're not familiar with.
Make sure you talk with your future manager about what your company's equipment policies are and what your company will provide you with, and then go shopping for the rest. If you're switching from a job where the dress code was business formal to a job where the dress code is completely casual, you'll probably need to go shopping for enough pairs of jeans to get you through a workweek. The inverse is also true -- if you're going from a business casual environment to a formal environment, you'll need some new clothes as soon as possible. Whatever your equipment, workspace or clothing needs, you're better off shopping for them before you start the job. That way you can find bargains and shop at your leisure, well before they become required for you to function at work.
How do you prepare for a new job? Do you prefer to take a few days off before you make the jump, or do you go right from one job to another with barely a weekend in between? Share your experiences in the comments.
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