14 ways to survive a new job when you’ve just changed careers

You’ve heard the stories: more people than ever are changing jobs. It’s not a myth, but a reality. The pace with which we change roles sand careers is speeding up, both in Australia and overseas.

Aussies who continue on in the same job for more than five years are now the exception, not the rule. “The latest comprehensive survey of labour mobility has found 56 per cent of Australia’s 11.5 million workers have been in their jobs fewer than five years,” says economist Peter Martin.

Around 20 per cent have held their job roles for less than a year. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, while total employment is said to have grown 77,600 in the year to July last year, “beneath the surface about a fifth of the country’s workers – 2.3 million people – gained and lost jobs,” says Martin.

How often do job changes occur?

More often than you think, says a recent US Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ special report.

“The average number of jobs in a lifetime is 11.4 jobs for men and 10.7 for women for the Baby Boomer generation.”

However, this number is now rising.  “A newer, separate study showed men held an average of 11.6 jobs and women 11 jobs during their working lifetimes.” Gen Ys and Zs may change even more, according to social reports.

The process of changing from one job to another

It’s always going to be difficult, but with some careful planning, you can make the transition smoother. Payscale provides some great advice on how to cope with changing jobs, suggesting that there are four main things you need to do to ensure the shift is as comfortable as possible:

  1. get a support network around you
  2. find meaningful tasks to keep productive
  3. obtain professional direction and encouragement
  4. prepare for something better ahead.

“Start by making sure you are crystal clear on what is expected of you,” they say. “Elicit feedback on your work regularly and use every opportunity to demonstrate your potential.” It’s also a good idea to show that you are willing and able to go the extra mile, particularly when new to a role.

Tips for coping on your first week in a new job

The Institution of Engineering and Technology has a great portal of information on this topic. They suggest that there are five main things you should keep in mind when you begin your new job: 

  1. Do your fact-finding on the company before your first day at work
  2. be prompt and punctual at all times
  3. make sure you know precisely what your manager expects of you
  4. show you are prepared to go the extra distance
  5. demonstrate your potential and willingness to learn at all times.

They also suggest that t’s important to make the most of your induction, as well. “Approach it seriously and ask plenty of questions. If you have any concerns about conditions raise them politely.” Making a good impression can be easy if you, “arrive early on day one and ensure you are prompt and punctual thereafter. Demonstrate a willingness to learn and a positive attitude at all times.”

Some tips for setting a positive mindset about your new role

Specialist recruitment company Ambis also highlights that changing job roles can come with a degree of personal anxiety and stress. This can be managed, provided you set the right mindset, early on. Here are three ways to do this:

  1. Leave your past behind: “Whatever mistakes you have made in your previous career, you are leaving them behind.  Think of how you want to be perceived and start living it!” Be “positive, energetic, enthusiastic, interested, supportive, helpful and hard working,” they say.
  2. Look the part! It’s important to dress well and present your best self, no excuses! “Try and be the best dressed person in your department,” Ambis says. “Generally speaking casual wear, unusual clothing and white disco suits should be saved until after your probationary period!”
  3. Join the culture of the company: “It can be a surprise to find a company with a different aspect, so make sure your have your antennae up to figure out what is what,” says the recruiter. Different workplaces have different levels of casual vs. formal. Don’t get it wrong!

If you don’t feel your new role is working out

“Request a meeting with your manager as soon as possible rather than letting things fester as your disenchantment will quickly manifest itself and others will notice,” says The Institution of Engineering and Technology.

“If you’re unhappy, try to find out if the job can be shaped, as this is often a way to improve a position that turns out to be more junior that you initially thought.”

Sometimes, even this may not work. If you have considered doing the two things above and you still feel like your job role is not working out, it may be clear that this job is simply not right for you. “Either way, make sure that a job has been given a fair chance.”

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