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MOOC Offers Lessons for Transitioning into New Jobs

William White says preparation helps new employees reach job efficiency much faster

When people accept new jobs, they often spruce up. They might buy new clothes and maybe get a haircut. But that’s typically where the “preparation” ends.

William WhiteAccording to William White, professor of industrial engineering and management sciences, new employees should take more time to prepare before entering a job. If they do, they will reach job efficiency and exceed workplace expectations at a much faster rate. This fall he will offer a massive open online course (MOOC) called “Power Onboarding,” which is designed to help people start new jobs more effectively.

Hosted by Coursera, Power Onboarding will provide practical, easy-to-use tools to help individuals transition into new jobs. The six-week course is free and begins October 12. Throughout the course, participants will learn how to create their own personalized onboarding plans. Weekly content will include lecture videos, reading, quizzes, and personal reflection.

“Between accepting a new job and starting a new job, a person might have days, weeks, or even months,” White said. “There is always time to get ready.”

White recently published a new book on the topic called Get Ready. Get Set. Go!: A Personal Onboarding Plan to Launch Your Extraordinary Career. Before joining Northwestern, he spent 30 years as a manager in the business world, including time as CEO and chairman at Bell & Howell. When transitioning into a new job, White said workers should reflect on previous jobs, meet with their new bosses, and learn more about the company and industry.

“In a mid-manager job, reaching 70 percent efficiency usually takes 21 months,” he said. “With preparation, you can take 21 months down to 12 months. Your employers will be thrilled, and you’ll feel more confident.”

White said the course applies to people at all stages in their careers. It also can be helpful for promotions, lateral transfers, changing companies, and those who are happy in their current jobs but who want to be prepared for future moves.

“A typical person will change jobs seven times in a lifetime,” White said. “There are many opportunities to make great leaps in job performance.”

For more information or to sign-up for the course, visit