Crushing It in Your New Job

Congratulations! You got the job.

Now comes all the important stuff you have to do before you can get to the fun part of your job. Since every organization has its own on-boarding procedures, you may not encounter all of these new-hire activities or you may discover additional requirements. Either way, as you’re going through this process, it’s the perfect time to ask questions to make sure you start your new job feeling confident and well-equipped.

Some of these issues may be addressed, or at least introduced, during the application process, but we’ll re-visit them here from the perspective of a new employee. When you’re done reviewing this article, check out our companion video HR Checklist for a New Job presented by our Human Resource Officer, Carlene Hindert.

The Offer

One of the most exciting things you’ll see after graduating from college is your first offer letter for the job you’ve been dreaming about. Luckily, it’s not the 1990’s anymore, so you’ll probably receive the offer by email or a link to an employer’s portal – and not by carrier pigeon or fax machine.

That offer letter may include a more detailed description of the position you’re being hired for, as well as the official title, your supervisor’s name, start date, rate of pay and whether you’re exempt (is a salaried position that is not compensated for overtime) or non-exempt (is typically paid hourly and is compensated for overtime). At this point, you’ll also learn if there’s a probationary period and you’ll probably undergo pre-employment screenings.

Potential new hires are usually expected to undergo a drug screening and background check. For some highly-sensitive positions or those that deal with money, your potential employer may also run a credit check and you may need to be fingerprinted. Other jobs may require physical testing, such as your ability to lift items of a certain weight.

Great Expectations

All organizations have guidelines for the conduct of its employees and the processes that are used to get things done. Although most employers have a formal handbook, smaller businesses may not. However, it’s important to find out what their unspoken expectations are – and you should write them down or make a note of them in your phone. Some of the topics that are covered in a handbook – or you should ask about – include:

  • Dress Code
    • If a uniform is required, do they provide it?
    • Are there any safety issues related to clothing? (For example, not being allowed to wear open-toed shoes in a manufacturing setting.)
  • Technology Policies
    • Use of company equipment and security measures
    • Use of personal devices at work (phones, tablets, laptops, etc.)
    • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) policies for public institutions
  • Building Overview
    • Security guidelines, including ID badge
    • Building hours, if applicable
    • Parking location, potential cost and any needed stickers or cards
  • Expense Reimbursement
    • When traveling for work, do you pre-pay and get reimbursed later or do you use a company card?
    • Expectations for taking clients out for meals or activities like golfing
    • What, if any, education is covered (workshops, grad school, training for licensure, etc.)
  • Other Details
    • Emergency procedures (weather-related, hazardous materials, workplace violence, etc.)
    • List of team members and specialty employees you may need support from (HR, IT, etc.)
    • Notification process when ill or unable to attend work unexpectedly

More Than Money

Your career is about more than just the income you’ll earn and the experience you’ll gain. Of course, those are critical elements of your new position. However, benefits vary among employers and they can make a huge difference  in your job satisfaction. Let’s take a look at some of the more common benefits, along with a few questions you may have:

  • Health Insurance
    • What does it cover? You’ll want to look at deductibles, co-pays, out-of-pocket costs, lifetime maximums, etc.
    • Does it include vision and/or dental or can you purchase these separately?
    • What are typical co-pays for prescriptions?
    • What is the total premium and how much will be taken out of each paycheck?
    • Can you add your family? If so, how does that affect the cost?
  • Other Insurance
    • Is life insurance provided?
    • Can you purchase extra life insurance?
    • Does the company provide short- or long-term disability coverage?
    • What are the details of their Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA)? (This doesn’t apply to smaller employers)
  • Savings and Retirement
    • Does your company offer an HSA or FSA
    • Does your company offer a 401(k) (for businesses) or 403(b) (for certain tax-exempt organizations) retirement savings plan?
    • Do you receive matching contributions? Up to what percentage?
    • How many years until you become vested (when you’re able to keep all matching contributions)?
    • Do any state agency retirement programs apply?
  • Wellness and Paid Time Off (PTO)
    • How many sick days do you have and can they be used for an ill family member? Do they roll over to the next year if you don’t use them all?
    • How many vacation days and/or personal days off do you receive? Do they roll over or are they use-it-or-lose-it?
    • Will you earn more PTO the longer you work at the company?
    • Is there a company workout facility or discounts at a local gym?
    • Does the company offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for mental health support?
    • What other wellness benefits are offered? This may include weight loss or smoking cessation
    • What are the maternity/paternity policies at your company?
  • Other Considerations
    • Some employers have negotiated discounts at restaurants, for travel or with other services
    • Does the company offer tuition reimbursement? Does this extend to your family?
    • Is tuition reimbursement limited to certain majors and educational institutions?

TL;DR: Starting a new job may seem like it’s filled with overwhelming lists, but if you take it one step at a time, you’ll be on your way to an exciting new career!