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Five ways to jump-start a new job

I recently had the pleasure of hosting a virtual stand at the onboarding meeting for new CERN collaborators, “Connecting the dots”, where I also realised that none of the new colleagues I was talking to knew what an Ombud is. It was a pleasure to enlighten them.

After 35 years working at CERN, I am still emotionally moved to see new faces, all eager to start their new job and prove that they have been selected for good reasons.

As it happens, I stumbled on an excellent article from the Korn Ferry series on how to jump-start a new job, and I could not resist transposing it into CERN’s context.

It is one thing to get a new job, but another to start out right. Today, CERN is still onboarding new hires remotely, making it fairly difficult for new colleagues to make an impression on the boss and understand the Lab easily. Still, the foundation you set for any endeavour is an important part of the venture, so here are a few recommendations.

Do your research

You have certainly done this prior to applying for the job, but you should continue your efforts to get to know the Organization. Have you read the last CERN Annual Report? The CERN Medium-Term Plan? They both provide key information on CERN’s structure, programmes, projects and activities. Have you received a copy of the CERN Code of Conduct and related policies? If you have had a chance to meet the person who previously held your job (not easy), you must have learned more about your team; otherwise, go through your job description again and discuss anything that is unclear now that you are in the position.

Find out who your HR contact is and what support structures CERN offers, read the CERN Bulletin for the latest news and explore the CERN Learning Hub to find out what technical or personal development training might be available for you.

Communicate and manage expectations

Set up clear communication lines and establish expectations with your supervisor and colleagues. Figure out what your supervisor expects you to deliver in the first 90 days, 180 days, year and so on. Do not hesitate to clarify responsibilities and potential additional roles. Make sure you understand how to interface with the other services you will be in contact with. Make sure you know which skills and competencies you are expected to develop.

Your supervisor has immediate priorities and plans. Make sure that you understand them and carry out your work accordingly. It is also important that you share with your boss any information about yourself that you deem essential.

Build relationships

Get to know your colleagues, supervisees and higher-ups. Schedule times to meet with them online or in person and make sure to show your interest in learning from them and building support and allies.

Volunteering for an assignment or a special project can help you build relationships. For instance, getting involved – with your supervisor’s approval – in a project, even outside your immediate responsibilities, will get your name out there and showcase your value to a wider set of colleagues. Once you’re too deep into your new job, you may end up being too busy.

The CERN clubs are a great way to build relationships. With close to 50 clubs registered, there must be one for you. Go for it.

Find a mentor

If you’re starting your first job, look for a mentor. Experts say having mentors is pivotal to your success in the Organization, as they will provide you with valuable perspectives on various issues. The CERN Women in Technology group (WIT) has a mentoring scheme, which you might find useful. So has the CERN Alumni Network. Do not hesitate to seek some level of mentorship from a more senior colleague that you trust.

Listen more

Don’t overlook the power of listening. Spend a significant amount of time actively listening and observing the CERN culture at your new workplace. Listening, observing and not simply following the rules that were applicable in your previous environment will take you a long way.


Welcome to CERN for a fantastic experience in this great Laboratory! Know where to find support and remember, if you need to talk, the Ombud is here to listen.

Laure Esteveny

This article is inspired by the Korn Ferry Institute newsletter “This Week in Leadership”.

I want to hear from you – feel free to email ombud@cern.ch with any feedback or suggestions for topics you’d like me to address.