After all your hard work, applying for job after job and networking like crazy, you’ve landed that great career opportunity! Take a moment and savor this time. You’re about to enter the honeymoon phase. You know that time. It starts when you accept the offer and typically runs for 3 -6 months. During that time, you’re in heaven: learning a new job, learning a new culture and coworkers, getting comfortable with what’s expected of you. It’s both exhilarating and exhausting. You arrive home each night happy and tired from everything being so new. Enjoy this time! It’s sweet. But for many, it passes far too quickly. Sometimes, and all too quickly, some of the same things that drove you from your old job crop up, or the new environment isn’t quite what you’d hoped it would be. Worse yet, the culture isn’t how it was represented to you. So, what do you do?
After 20 years of being an employee myself, and now as a career coach, I see many different scenarios play out. The following are the three most common, and I spend much of my time coaching clients who have successfully landed a new job, but recognize there is continuing work they need to do.
- You fail to change those bad habits that haunted you on your last job. Each new job is an opportunity to reinvent yourself, to shed any old habits that were detrimental to your career. You know that major faux pas you committed at your last job that nobody could forget? Well, the new company doesn’t know anything about it, so you get a fresh start. I once had a client who asked me to work with him to help him ‘show up differently’ when he started a new job. He’d been at his last company for many years, had grown up there, and recognized there were things he’d like to do differently with this fresh start. Through professional coaching, he was able to take on his new role and be the person he wanted to be in his new company and position.
- The culture you thought you were joining was more toxic than you imagined. Yes, it happens. You arrive on your first day with what you think is your dream company. They say great things about their culture, they offer a great compensation package, and it seemed like a no-brainer to accept their offer. And, maybe things go well for a few months, during that honeymoon period. But, then it happens. It starts small. A single bad encounter, an off-putting comment from a coworker, or maybe someone goes behind your back. Ok. You take it for what it is and move on. Then it happens again, and again, and yet again. In the worst case scenario, you start to take it personally, or it may even demoralize you to the point that you lose confidence. Having been there myself, I know this is one of the most uncomfortable places to be. The best solution is typically to start your exit strategy. If this is the accepted culture, it’s not likely to change. So in order to stay and thrive, you would have to change. And really, is that what you want to do? I doubt it. The best thing to do is to start taking steps to move to a new job, being very careful to examine the real culture of the next company more carefully.
- You thought you were going to love the work you’ve started doing. The job sounded exciting. Maybe it’s a job with lots of travel and that was a prospect you welcomed. Then you discover that spending far too much time in airports with delayed or cancelled flights, visiting different cities, but only seeing hotels, restaurants and offices isn’t the joy you anticipated. Or maybe you landed a job in your college major only to discover that’s not the work you want to do. That happened to me. I was a happy and successful accounting major in college, but learned accounting was in no way the right career choice for me. The solution, once again, is research.
I hope you never find yourself in any of these, or other, situations, but chances are at some point you will. Don’t remain stuck. Life is too short and you will do your best work when you are making use of your skills and working with the people and company that are a fit for you. Keep your resume fresh, your LinkedIn profile active and ALWAYS be passively looking for that next job.