For many, the way to career (and corresponding salary) growth involves switching employers. Although too frequent job hops can damage your credibility, sometimes you need to move to get to that next level.
If you’ve never changed jobs before, you may be in for some surprises as you move to your new job. Here are some things I found as I moved from job to job as a computer programmer/project manager.
Its a whole new ballpark.
It’s not just a new ball game (different projects, boss, co-workers) it is a whole new environment. In your old job, you came to expect certain rules and types of interactions with your peers and bosses. You knew how to get to work, where to park, when you could break and go to lunch, how much time should be spent chatting with co-workers vs. time at your desk. You knew how to use the phone system, the printer, what was allowed or disallowed on the internet. You had figured out all of the companies tools, hardware and software and had your computer set up just the way you want it.
Guess what? All of that is gone. Expect the unexpected. My son recently started a new programming job. To his surprise, he found they used Apple computers (he has always had PCs at work). When I started a job at TWA, they had no where for me to sit! I moved from desk to desk – using spots when people went on vacation – for about a month. My sister-in-law went back to an office that had switched from permanent individual desks to a roaming cube situation. She moves desks every day.
Count on spending some of your own time to get your tools set up the way you need them – to even find out what tools there are and how to access them.
Starting a new job definitely affects your own stress levels, so try to keep other areas of your life constant and as stress free as possible. If you are having to re-locate, try to have someone else handle the house-hunting and moving details – or see if you can get the move taken care of before you start the job – or delay it by renting or staying in a hotel for awhile.
Remind yourself that you can’t learn everything about the job on the first day or in the first week. Yes, you should try to hit the ground running, but cut yourself some slack emotionally if you have a few bumps in the road.
Expectations can be blurry.
Recruiter’s and hiring managers often have real difficulty in summarizing and stating what the real job expectations are. There are so many things – on both a conscious and unconscious level – that go into managing a team of people, that it is truly difficult to lay everything out at once for a new hire.
Sometimes, you are interviewed and hired by someone other than the person who becomes your immediate supervisor. What you were promised at interview/job offer time may not have been relayed to your immediate supervisor – or may have been interpreted differently by him or her than it was by you and the person extending the job offer.
Your expectations of the new job may not be understood. When you start that first day, you get smacked in the face with the differences and may have to think quickly to come up with a way to diplomatically address them while preserving the things which made you come to the company.
You are expected to fit in.
Lets face it, you are used to a certain culture and way of doing things. Your new company will definitely have a different culture and way of doing things. Don’t expect everyone to immediately adjust to your style.
Perhaps you feel strongly that it is important to joke around with people in the office to establish rapport, but the new office culture appears very serious. Start the job by adjusting the the culture and gradually introduce the levity you feel may be needed. Bend to their ways first. You will affect the company culture, over time, just by being there and being yourself.
Don’t assume that you can checkout your facebook page at work, just because your last employer didn’t mind.
Don’t assume that you can watch streaming video or listen to music while you work, just because your last employer didn’t mind.
Don’t be offended by interactions you encounter during the first few weeks at work. Just work to change them over time.
You should lean towards professionalism.
Until you see the culture in action, it is safer to be a bit more professionally dressed than you think the others may be – no shorts, t-shirts and flip flops until you have SEEN they are accepted. Since we already know that just starting a new job causes stress, why increase it by being dressed much more casually than everyone else.
The same idea applies to the way you interact with your new co-workers and managers. Tending towards the professional will allow you to feel less stressed in your interactions. It could by highly embarrassing if you try to fit in by telling a bawdy joke, only to get ‘the stare’ from co-workers. There will be time to display your outstanding sense of humor later. Keep it toned down the first few weeks while you get the feel of your new digs.
You may have assumed benefits that don’t really exist.
Some things seem so fundamental to us that we don’t bother to explore them in a job interview or offer. Most of us in the US assume that a new job automatically comes with time off of some sort – typically a few sick days a year and a couple of weeks vacation.
We also might take the presence of a retirement plan for granted, when in actuality, the company doesn’t offer one, or offers one that is dramatically different than our old one.
There is no one to blame except yourself if you accepted the job without fully exploring all aspects.
Some of your old niceties may also be missing from your new job.
One of the perks at one of my positions was a large display phone, which could show you who was calling and had many features and functions not present on the standard phone. Upon moving to a new department in the same company, I expected I would have the same kind of phone, but the new management wouldn’t provide it. It seems nit-picky but it did add to my stress levels. As it turns out, the new management also wanted to remove my bonus eligibility. I managed to negotiate this back in this particular case – otherwise I would have been very stressed! Pick your battles, let the little things go, focus on the ones that matter.
What surprise have you found when starting a new job?