Ah, the honeymoon phase. It’s that special time in any new job when all is happiness and light. Everything you suggest is met with nods of approval, you haven’t yet gotten lost in a bramble of office politics and the way forward looks clear and unblocked. I’m three weeks into my new job, so am still very much in the honeymoon phase. I like it so much that I’m trying to figure out how to extend it for as long as possible.
Here are a few ideas I’ve had:
- Don’t go to every meeting you’re invited to. When you’re new, there’s a tendency for people to invite you to all sorts of meetings because they think they have to keep you busy and introduce you to everyone. Or—and this is more likely—there’s something they want you to do for them. Resist this as much as is feasible. The early days of a new job offer you a unique glimpse into the operations of your employer—what’s working, what’s not, where the pain points are and, most importantly, where the opportunities are. Spending every minute in meetings may ensure that you quickly get to know everyone and their specific needs, but it diminishes the opportunity to do big-picture thinking and see possibilities that you’ll have a harder time seeing in six months. To paraphrase an overused metaphor, focus on the forest; the trees can wait.
- Avoid “drinking from the fire hose.” This is another overused metaphor in the workplace, especially for new employees. Certainly, your new job will be busy and there’s a lot to take in, but part of being strategic is knowing what to pay attention to. If you allow yourself to be deluged with information, it will quickly become impossible to make sense of anything.
- Keep your external antennae up. I was out of work for a month before landing my new gig, which gave me the luxury of time to read a lot about the career-related things I’m interested in. I learned a lot about trends, found interesting people to follow and got a bigger-picture view than I would have if I’d been employed full-time. But even if you go directly from one job to the next, keep a toe in the waters of the things that interest you. It will help you bring fresh, timely ideas to your new job, which is ultimately one of the reasons they hired you.
- Keep networking. Prior to looking for a new job and ultimately getting laid off, I was doing almost no networking. I won’t let that happen again. In the last 10 months, I’ve seen the power of networking (one stat says that 60 to 75% of new jobs are gotten that way). In fact, I’m not sure I would have found my new job had I not been actively finding new people to connect with. And it’s not just about new jobs. Networking helps you meet great new people, hear about exciting new ideas and make connections that will help you immeasurably in your current job as well.
Ultimately you’ll have to say goodbye to the honeymoon phase. Heck, a month from now I’ll probably be doing the opposite of everything I said above. But while everything is fresh and new, try to stay above the fray as much as possible. The thinking, observing and strategizing you do today will sustain you for months‚—maybe years—to come.