You spent ten years with one company. Now you’ve switched to a new organization – and possibly a new career. Your challenge is not only to learn but also to release old patterns that won’t serve you well here.
Here are seven tips to help you master this transition.
(1) It’s been a long time since you had a “first day on the job.” Maybe you’re left alone with a stack of manuals to read. Or you’re expected to resolve a crisis, while strangers scream at each other, using jargon you don’t understand.
I’ve had clients report both of these scenarios.
“Did I make a mistake?” they wondered.
Both of these scenes were perfectly normal for their companies. It takes a while to figure out the game and the players.
(2) This is the hardest part. Be strictly professional. Keep your game face.
Do not share any concerns or misgivings about the job. Even if your boss appears to be breaking a written promise, give yourself time to figure it out. Sometimes first impressions – on both sides – are deceiving.
The only acceptable answer to, “How’s it going?” is, “Wonderful!”
(3) If you are making a dual move – job plus relocation – you’re “on stage” with everyone you meet in your new community. Your next-door neighbor could be your boss’s cousin.
Again: The only acceptable answer to, “How’s it going?” is, “Wonderful!”
(4) In today’s market, your new employer probably had to go to bat for you before you even arrived on board. You may never learn how you got here. Maybe you displaced a long-time employee or your boss’s rival wanted to hire someone else.
Spend your first six months collecting data. Interpret with caution, preferably with the help of an outsider who can offer perspective.
(5) Maintain old contacts and continue to expand your network. Thank everyone who has helped you. Let them know that, while you are ecstatically happy, jobs can be unpredictable.
Real estate agents leave the “For Sale” sign up till the day after the closing. Experienced corporate workers also leave their networks in place for a few weeks, if at all possible.
(6) Begin to build your future.
Set aside funds for your next adventure. Use your company’s resources to build skills, earn a degree, and generally make yourself more marketable every day.
(7) Find a mentor who can be trusted not only to keep your story confidential, but also to challenge your beliefs and offer an experience-based perspective.
Wet blankets and cheerleaders may not be your best choices. Most family members and friends will have agendas. You need objectivity.
Many people find that hiring a coach, consultant or mentor can be a wise investment at this time. If you can avoid even one angry outburst or indiscreet remark, you will save thousands of dollars by keeping your job and maintaining a “promotable” image.
Your first six months will be critical to your success.
I urge everyone to keep a journal, so you can look back to see how far you’ve come. Someday you’ll be the old-timer, welcoming the new employee, watching to see what she’s made of.
And if you need to talk about your experience, I’m available. Paying for a career consultant can be a good investment when you’re in a place where you have to walk on eggshells and watch every word. I don’t know about you, but those situations make me want to spill my guts to SOMEbody.
What do you think? Have you had a recent “first day on the job?”
I’m available to support you through my consulting program here.