Career Maven

Do and Don’ts of a New Job

I’m not sure if you’ve heard but I recently started a new job!

I’ve actually had this idea for a blog about starting a new job for ages. Quite a few friends have shifted roles and seeing their experiences, I wanted to share some thoughts on navigating the change.

And now I have my own new role, the time is finally right.

Starting a new role, whether it’s a promotion, a secondment or at a new company is a weird time.

You have this tension between wanting to deliver straight away and everything actually being harder that it was.

Simple things like knowing where to find documents or which tool to use or how to login to stuff is no longer an unconscious task you just do. You have to figure all of that out and that takes brain power. And time.

There are new relationships to form. Or relationships that need to evolve as your position relevant to your colleagues changes. Again, it takes more brain power to establish those new expectations and boundaries.

Like I said, the first days and weeks on a job is a weird time. 

Remembering what you have to offer when even the easiest task feels hard can be challenging.

So here are some thoughts and reminders to help you walk that tightrope with grace and compassion.

Starting a new role, whether it’s a promotion, a secondment or at a new company is a weird time. Here are a few things to keep in mind to navigate beginning a new job with grace and compassion. Keep in mind everything takes much more energy with a new job.

Do allow others to lead while you find your feet.

In my new role, I’m a Project Manager with external clients. In meetings with those clients, I allowed the Project Manager I’m taking over from to lead those sessions.

It’s tempting to want to jump straight in and go ‘this is my client now’. To want to take over immediately.

For a couple of reasons, it actually makes sense to take your time with those transitions.

  1. You get to see how things operate so you can fit in with how things are done. In my case, this gives the client a seamless experience when they’re already nervous about a new Project Manager.
  2. As we’ve already talked about, the simple things are taking way more energy than normal, so it makes sense to take on responsibility in phases. 

I get the inclination to just go for it and provide as much value as possible from the start. The intention is good.

But it’s worth thinking about, what is the impact of jumping in before I’m ready? Not only for yourself, but for your colleagues and for your clients too.

Don’t set expectations you don’t want to maintain.

When we start new jobs, we often feel this pressure to put our best foot forward.

To somehow prove or validate that hiring us was the right choice.

Often that looks like:

  • working longer hours than we really want to, 
  • taking on more work than we’re really comfortable with, 
  • saying yes to anything asked of us

The issue is in those first few weeks, we’re really showing everyone around us what they can expect from us.

This is the time to be really clear in your boundaries, so you don’t have to undo all of that expectation setting down the track.

Be clear in your working hours and stick with them. (Read more: Five Tips to Leave Work on Time)

Be honest in how you’re finding the workload.

Most importantly, be clear in what expectations you DO want to set. 

Do ask for work when you feel ready.

I shared this with my email list at the end of my first week. Most likely, everyone you’re working with is new to working with you and they don’t really know what you’re capable of yet. 

So instead of sitting back and waiting to be given work, ask.

Offer to take an action from a meeting.

Ask a colleague if you can do xyz to help them.

Remember the team have probably been doing everything themselves so they’re naturally going to assume that they’re going to do the task.

When you see something and think ‘I could do that’, say so!

This is your opportunity to demonstrate your capability, show they made the right decision in hiring you in a way that is actually valuable and helpful.

More than that, you’re showing that you take responsibility for your success. Winning!

Don’t try to change your entire routine.

I feel like everyone sees a new job as this clean slate to overhaul EVERYTHING.

That’s it’s this magic reset point where they can not only change their job but also their eating habits, their exercise habits, their sleep habits, their reading habits, their TV watching habits. You get my point.

Way to make things way harder.

Everything at work is already harder. Finding documents, navigating new tools, adjusting to your new commute all takes more energy than you’re used to expending.

The invitation here is to observe the impact your new job is having on your routine. What starts to slip away? What opportunities open up?

With my new job, I now take the bus to work and it’s the perfect time to post on Instagram, add to my stories, reply to DMs. I now have this built in time to do my social media.

But I’ve also noticed I’m working out less so now I’m playing around with how to address that. Does exercise before work suit me? Nope. But writing before work does and then I’m free to work out when I get home. 

Allow your routine to be something you experiment with and refine over time.

Do give the job a chance.

As we’ve talked about, a new job can feel awkward. Which makes it super easy to question whether you’ve made the right decision.

We’ve left behind the comfort of the familiar (even if we low key hated it). And it can be very tempting to put on your rose tinted glasses and suddenly see that old role as the promised land.

Remember you left for a reason. Look forward.

Allow the new role to feel clunky. It’s actually ok to make mistakes. In the last week I’ve forgotten to set up a project in our time tracking tool and to the share the upcoming plan with the wider team.

The world did not end. Someone reminded me, I did the thing. Everyone is super understanding that I’m new and there’s a lot to learn.

It’s normal to want to avoid discomfort at all costs but this is one of those times you’ve just got to ride it out. Remember, the awkwardness won’t last.

Don’t be afraid to walk away.

There’s a narrative (that I think is slowly dying), that you need to spend at least two years in a job. That if you jump around a lot, that doesn’t look good on a CV.

Yes companies are looking for someone that will stick around, onboarding new staff is expensive. So if moving on every six months is a pattern, fair enough that they choose someone else.

But if you’ve started a job and three months in it really isn’t working then cut your losses. 

There is nothing to be gained in sticking it out. 

When I was the Operations Manager of a recruitment firm, I saw how often companies don’t really know what they’re looking for and their criteria evolves based on the applications and interviews. The lack of clarity can lead to a big gap between the role you were sold in the hiring process and the reality once you start. 

Recruitment is more art than science and sometimes it just isn’t right. 

But make sure you learn what works and what didn’t and use that knowledge for the next role.

Do remember to celebrate!

Finally, a massive congratulations on your new job!! It’s always such an exciting time, filled with possibility and optimism.

Remember that. Remember the excitement. Remember to celebrate!

Celebrate getting the job.

Celebrate your first day.

Celebrate your first milestone. Mine was the first new project I got signed. 

Celebrate when you figure something out.

Celebrate when you make a mistake as you’re closer to knowing how it all works.

Getting a new role, any role is a big deal. Acknowledge that.

Staying in the energy of celebration is a powerful way of combating all of that weird, awkward, uncomfortableness that’s going on.

So how are you going to celebrate?

Ready for a new job so you can use these tips?

The starting points for you job search needs to be getting clear on what you’re looking for.

This focuses your search so you spend less energy on it AND you get a job you’re actually excited about.

Don’t know what you want in your next job?

I share my EXACT job clarity process in Define Your Dream Job, my free, four part training series.

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