I changed jobs recently. I left the company I used to work at, bearing them no ill will and burning no bridges. I simply wanted a different challenge — and I freely admit that sometimes I didn’t fit well in the environment. I went from a largish company with a startup mentality to a massive company that’s been around for more than 50 years. I feel better working for larger companies because I think they fit my communication style better.
Changing jobs allows you to — for the most part — completely reset yourself, work-wise. Here’s six of the best things to reset:
6. Your devices. — When you change jobs, odds are good you’re going to get a new computer. This gives you the opportunity to start fresh: no malware, no history, no slowdowns. Of course you’re probably going to sync up with your Firefox, Safari, or Chrome, but that’s not a huge issue. What’s better, though, is your device, especially if you used to get work e-mail on it. Your old company probably put security software on there, and you need to get rid of that stuff. Now’s the time to back up your files and do a factory reset. Then watch how fast your phone moves.
5. Your sleep cycle. — Take a day or two off before you start your new job. Get a long weekend and clear out your sleep cycle, taking the four days or so to reset yourself and wake up when you should be waking up for your new job. You’ll feel refreshed and ready — unlike when I started, and my asshole new neighbors decided to start a party at 10:30pm and keep it going until well after midnight. But you can’t control that. If you change your sleep cycle, though, it’ll probably make it easier in the long run to get up for your new job, especially if you’re increasing your commute time.
4. Your work habits. — Many people change jobs because of dissatisfaction, and job dissatisfaction shows itself in a number of ways. Goofing off, slowing down, taking on fewer responsibilities, coming in later, leaving earlier… all things that you shouldn’t do if you want to make a good impression at the new job. Plus, you should be happier about going to a new place, shouldn’t you? Show it. Goof off less. Get to work earlier, especially if you have a hard stop time (such as a need to pick up children from school). Don’t immediately start telecommuting. Take on additional work. And, for extra bonus points, make up a project for yourself. Even if you don’t finish it anytime soon, you’ve shown initiative.
3. Your lunch. — Another way to get out of the office when you’re dissatisfied is to go out to lunch, just to escape. But that costs more, and it often isn’t as healthy for you. I know that I always eat too much when I eat out, even when I’m having healthy food (I can demolish a salad bar like nobody’s business). Plan out a week’s worth of lunches, bring them to work, and eat them. Don’t go out if you can possibly avoid it. However, be aware that you might be asked out to lunch by your new co-workers on your first or second day; plan for this.
2. Your image. — I have this habit of being anti-social at work. A lot of what I do is solitary — troubleshooting, coding, and implementation aren’t necessarily team tasks. As a result, at least one manager in my past has asked me to be more pleasant when people say hello as we pass in the halls. This is difficult for me, but when I go to a new job, I have an opportunity to overcome my natural inclination. I’m trying a lot harder now than I have in a while; I make conversation, I say hello, and I try to talk a little louder. Not, like, super-duper-loud, but instead of muttering “hi”, I’ll actually say “hello” at a normal volume. It’s not so bad, really.
1. Your team. — Coming into a new job allows you to bring your specific skill set to a new group of people, one whose manager believes that your skills will be an asset. As a result, you’ll have expertise in certain aspects of the job that others might not, or you might have the same expertise but not see things the same way. Coming into a new team allows you to add your distinctiveness — put your stamp on it, if you will. I’m not saying you’ll be able to change everything right away, or even in a big way, but if you can come in and, in your first week or two, help people to look at things from an angle they might not have in the past, you can help your team to reset even as you reset yourself.
Worth a try, right?
Going back to #2 for a moment — there are only six or seven employers in the city that hire people who do what I do. There’s a running gag that most of them are just marking spots on a bingo card. I’m on my fourth, and I’ve applied at the other two but never gotten hired. Point is, even though I’m resetting my image, at least a little, there are still people here at the new job who know me (or, in some instances, know of me). One such person sits right next to me. Fortunately, this person has positive memories from our last go-round together, as I provided a great deal of application support to this person’s team over the years. And, since I actually worked for another branch of this company about a decade ago, there are folks I can e-mail or IM who still work here and have for ages. And they’re all on board with my reset, as far as I know. So don’t let that stop you if you run into a former co-worker at a new place of business.
Got an idea for a future “Six of the Best” column? Tweet it to me @listener42.