I started a new job this month. A new job that meant I left a place I had been at for 6 years, moved to a new city and ventured out into a totally new workplace. It’s quite a lot of change all at once but I think I have done a pretty good job of navigating it. I think university gets you desensitised to moving house. You basically do it every year! But it got me thinking about that kind of change and how best to navigate it. It can be quite a stressful experience and I want to talk about how you can make transition easier. So without further delay… I’m regular Dementia Researcher blogger Dr Sam Moxon and here are my top 5 tips for navigating a job switch:
- Equip yourself for a stress-free first day
The first day of a new job can be the most daunting. You are heading into a totally unfamiliar environment filled with people you don’t know. It’s important to know that you have control over how that day goes and there are things that you can do to make it a positive experience. Firstly, I would always recommend dry running your commute before you start. Having a clear idea of how you will get there for your first day is so useful for easing that first day anxiety. You know what time you need to set off, how you are going to get there, and you don’t have to worry about being late.
When you do arrive, take time to absorb your new workplace surroundings. I like to look for little comforts that help me settle in such as the toilets, kitchen area, fridge and kettle or coffee maker. There is something settling about knowing where you can go to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Next, decorate your desk with a few personal items so you have a sense of home at work. Little things like that make a huge difference.
Finally, keep yourself open to engage with new team members. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. Instead, take the opportunity to get to know people. Join them for coffee or for lunch. Simply use that first day to settle in and become more comfortable in your surroundings. The work can come later when you are more at home with your new workplace.
- Only build positive relationships with colleagues
This next point is key to creating a nice working environment for yourself. It is critical that you strive to only build positive relationships with your new colleagues. The simplest way to do this is through complete honesty with them. Do not partake in any office gossip. Gossip is toxic and it has the potential to destroy workplace relationships. My grandfather used to always say “never say something ABOUT someone… say it TO them. If you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t say it at all”.
If you find yourself having an issue with someone speak either directly with them or with your manager. Doing so will build respect for you. It might feel uncomfortable, but it will yield more genuine relationships. You cannot control what others say or do but you can control your actions and words. Ignore gossip and only look for those positive relationships. Be as equally keen to tell people about the positive effect they are having on you during this transition. It can be as simple as “that has really helped me, thank you”. You want work friends not work enemies!
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Questions are a useful tool that you should not hesitate to use when you start a new job. Whether it’s asking a new colleague simple questions like “How long have you been here? Do you have any advice?” or asking your new manager “What do you need from me?”, they are incredibly useful at establishing key relationships. No question is a stupid question when you are new. Never be afraid to ask. It’s so much easier than trying to work stuff out for yourself.
Further to this, don’t be afraid to ask for feedback as you start to take on your new role. You can ask either your new manager or your new colleagues. It’s useful to know if you are on the right track and, if there are areas you can improve on, knowing and being able to act on that sooner rather than later makes things a lot easier. Be open to being coached. It is an opportunity for you to develop.
- Take the initiative to show people your value
As you start to feel more comfortable in this new role, another important thing to do is remember why you are there. What made your new employer hire you? The nonspecific answer is that you bring something they need and do not have without you. When you first start it may be easier for you to take on the immediate responsibilities that were handed to you. As you grow into the role, do not be afraid to go out and search for new opportunities to be helpful. Look for those collaborations which don’t necessarily lie directly in your job description. Show others what value you can bring and be willing to raise a hand and offer a solution for a problem when you feel you can help. You were hired because you are good at something. Make sure you show people that!
- Say yes to new opportunities
Finally and as a follow on to previous points, remember that a new job is an opportunity to develop yourself and your career. Any offered free training should be a no brainer! It’s a chance to learn something you didn’t previously know. Remember you aren’t just there to serve your new employer. You are also there to serve yourself and strengthen your career. Do not be afraid to be an apprentice. If there is someone who knows a lot about a topic you are interested in, seek to learn from them. It shows humility and a willingness to learn and people will respect that.
Finally, congratulations on landing that new job! The hard part is already over. You have already navigated the difficult waters of applications and interviews. Now you can focus on putting your best foot forward and thriving in your new role.
Dr Sam Moxon is a Researcher at the University of Birmingham. His expertise falls on the interface between biology and engineering. His PhD focussed on regenerative medicine and he now works on trying to develop 3D bioprinting techniques with human stem cells, so that we better understand and treat degenerative diseases. Outside of the lab he hikes through the Lake District and is an expert on all things Disney.