8

Soon I will start a new job as a senior software engineer. It is the first time that I will be in that position (only held Junior before), and I want to start my new job as good as possible. Would it be considered something bad if I were to send an email to the lead of the team that I will join to ask for some documentation to look through already, even though I won't start for another few weeks. They have mentioned that the time to get to know their system should be about 3 months, but I want to get as good a start as possible.

Is documentation something I could ask for? Are there other things that I should consider asking to get started as well as possible?

For if it matters, location is The Netherlands.

9

Is documentation something I could ask for?

I wouldn't recommend it. As others mentioned this kind of system knowledge is something you typically don't get until you've started working. There's not much harm in asking but the chance of someone reacting poorly or the environment being unusually security-conscious is enough to avoid asking. System-specific documentation is also not something a reasonable person would ask to prep for in advance. Note that contract or domain expert/architect roles can be an exception to this.

Are there other things that I should consider asking to get started as well as possible?

You can simply ask the hiring manager (the person you'd be working for) about this. Say something like:

[Since I have some free time before my start date] I was wondering if there was anything I could read up on to help me get started. Are there any [sites / books / tutorials / resources] you'd recommend I look at?

Most managers will tell you not to worry about it, especially in countries/companies where work-life balance is important and that's definitely true for the Netherlands. Some managers may even play at being offended that you'd suggest having to study before starting the job (and being paid for it), but they'd be joking.

If you've already identified some minor skills that you don't have during the interview then that's one thing you could look into. If for instance you've only used the Git version control system but the company uses Mercurial that's something you can explore.

  • 1
    "unusually security-conscious" - It depends on the company. "Our data never touches anyone's personal device" is not exactly unheard of, especially in industries with compliance requirements (HIPAA et al.). They may simply not want to bother with the difficulty of issuing you a work laptop/phone/whatever before your formal first day. – Kevin Oct 6 '16 at 5:39
  • @Kevin True but this is mainly about documentation, not actual data. Every company's security needs are different of course but for most average companies it would be fine for a manager to share system documentation ahead of time, even though that's only very rarely done. – Lilienthal Oct 6 '16 at 11:48
6

FWIW I would be more than happy to send you the NDA early and provide some system documentation. I would highly appreciate that you want to hit the ground running. You just scored some serious good will from me.

That said, I work in the US and I'm not certain our legal dept. would feel the same way. I can't possibly see how it would hurt to ask. The worst that could happen is they tell you that they appreciate the sentiment, but can't do that until you've officially started.

  • 1
    For that matter, not all of the readings will be confidential. Public docs about the product, APIs and similar standards that the project is relying on that you might not have experience with, etc. ... There is probably useful background reading that you could be doing. – keshlam Oct 5 '16 at 12:04
  • 1
    +1 for the distinction between the personal result (goodwill) and the actual result (legal says no documentation released / no work unpaid). – newcoder Oct 9 '16 at 20:36
2

Would it be considered something bad if I were to send an email to the lead of the team that I will join to ask for some documentation to look through already, even though I won't start for another few weeks. They have mentioned that the time to get to know their system should be about 3 months, but I want to get as good a start as possible.

Asking for anything that would help you "hit the ground running" is a great idea.

Not only will this actually help you get off to a fast start, it will demonstrate your eagerness to dig in and be valuable. It makes a great first impression. Hiring managers tend to like to see that.

Don't do it unless you really mean to spend time on whatever they send you. And of course they may not feel free to disseminate any confidential information until you are formally on-board.

I've done the same in the past. I think it has helped me in my new job, and has helped my new employers as well.

0

If you're starting in a few weeks, you're not yet part of that company are you? Possibly even still at your old job. You'd be asking to disclose confidential information to someone who is not part of the company.

If someone would approach me that way, the general business principles, which I've signed would require me to notice our legal department and my manager. And you'd probably be in trouble.

Take it easy, if the onboarding is estimated to be around 3 months, than your new team are calculating on that part. You'll have the whole of your probationary period (if there is any) to prove yourself.

0

I won't start for another few weeks. They have mentioned that the time to get to know their system should be about 3 months, but I want to get as good a start as possible.

You will have time to learn about their system when you will be working there. But if you want to get ahead of work by starting to look it up now, you might look like you are really involved in this new job and want to do well.

I don't know if they have or will make you sign a non disclosure agreement but it seems like you could not have access to these documents before your contracts starts as you will not have the permission to do so.

Is documentation something I could ask for?

Maybe the best approach is to ask for documentation in general and see what they can give you rather than wanting a specific document that you might not be able to get and that might make you look suspiscious to why you want access to those documents.

And seing that from another perspective, would the documents they would send you really give you a very detailed description of the system they are using ? And if so wouldn't you need to be in the company to analyse the documents so that you can ask questions ? I don't see this document request as added value they would just send you something too easy or something you can't really process and that might get you more confused.

Congratulations for the job ! You seem overly exited about it ! Don't try to get ahead of your workload too fast. It is good to be motivated but don't stress yourself on how you will be able to fit with the team you are going to integrate.

0

I wouldn't recomend it unless You know exactly What You are asking for.It shouldn't be no matter What documentation, you should ask for instance the list of approved projects or tasks with their budgets and terms so that you can estimate the level of their realisation and follow their progres in limits of the budget and terms.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.