Insight article

When Your New Gig Sucks

You just started a new gig and you absolutely hate it. Well, “hate” may be a strong word, but being disappointed and even a bit remorseful after changing jobs isn’t uncommon, you are not alone. Being miserable 40+ hours a week is no way to live, but before you throw in the towel, there are a few things you can try to turn things around.

What’s wrong?

Number one, you must determine the ultimate reason why your new job sucks. As an IT recruiter of 11 years, I have helped hundreds of candidates change jobs and I learned that most of the disappointment isn’t because of some fundamental mismatch that we accidentally overlooked. Especially today, candidates are not afraid to ask questions in their interviews, employers are way more open about their culture and internet allows for maximum research. The true source of frustration in my experience is simply dealing with change, establishing new trust and — especially for leaders – the power struggle. Yes! It is a catch twenty-two – we get anxious when we get too comfortable because of our desire for growth, but we get quickly frustrated with any growing pains. Here is what I recommend to overcome some of the common challenges with your new job.

Make yourself at home

Keep in mind that as you enter a new social or professional circle its members will test you consciously and subconsciously. You have a small time window to assume your position. Check with your boss and get a clear view of the reporting structure so you can demonstrate regard to those who count and show all others their place with you in the picture. In the modern office environment seniority alone doesn’t mean much, everyone’s standing rests on value added. Therefore dancing around senior staff members who are obnoxiously stepping on your toes is no longer necessary. Feel free to slap around a few folks when they overstep their boundaries and establish a dynamic that you are comfortable with. This alone may not be a solution to your problem with a new job, but at least a step in the right direction.

Take advantage of being a newbie

Look on the bright side – there are great advantages to being new at the workplace. Here they are:

  1. You bring fresh out-of-the-box perspective that senior players no longer have.
  2. You can apologize instead of asking for permission, because you just did not know the protocol… Oops!
  3. Your boss actually hired you instead of inheriting you, so they have a stake in your success (they NEED you to be a great hire)
  4. You can present your former colleagues’ ideas as your own, since nobody here heard them before.
  5. Fresh start – They haven’t seen you with one too many cocktails.

Get up to speed at all costs

New beginnings are tough, especially if switching jobs comes with switching industries. You may be lacking a specific technology or industry knowledge and some players may use it to their advantage. Sensing your own weaknesses may add to stress and make you feel vulnerable and that’s enough to make anyone unhappy at work. Don’t let these feelings confuse you, you are a winner and you WILL succeed. Here are some things you can do off hours:

  1. Dive into online research and self-help literature.
  2. Search LinkedIn for old contacts in your field and reach out for advice.
  3. Contact your IT recruiter and hire a high-end specialist in your field to tutor you for a few hours. (yes, it might be pricey, but if it will help you get ahead, the cost will be well justified)

This express approach to obtaining missing knowledge is a temporary necessity that will give you the confidence to speak up in meetings with solid proposals. It will pay dividends by letting you impress your superiors and intimidate the hell out of your new rivals.

Get your boss onboard

Another aspect that can make for an unhappy work environment is friction with your boss. It’s critical to take control of the situation as soon as possible while your relationship with your boss is still forming. Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Establish an effective way of communicating with your boss. Ask them of how they prefer to communicate in a number of common situations, such as: when either of you are traveling or anytime off hours or what is considered “urgent”.  Always repeat their requests back to them before executing, you don’t know the people yet, and they rarely say what they mean in a corporate setting.
  • Be tactful in your approach – always make them feel in control, by leaving the ball in their court. Make sure to end all suggestions with a value proposition. Such as: “I was thinking, if we could do “A” and “B” it will allow us to get that much closer to “C”, like you had in mind.”
  • Get on the same page with your boss before making your proposals public, like volunteering to help another team or bringing in a new vendor. Such a courtesy, although you may not need their permission, will help you build trust.
  • Don’t miss any bonding opportunities, try to grab a beer with your boss and learn about their goals and challenges. It could be difficult to show real value until you can determine what they consider valuable and focus your efforts in the right direction.
  • If you are already sensing tension with your boss, clear the air by meeting in person. If you are not sure, ask what is causing the falling out in your relationship. If you do know what it is, and even if you feel in the right, apologize for any misunderstanding.  Try to work through your issues together with a focus on establishing a better way of handling similar situations in the future.

Cheer yourself on

Attitude is the toughest part, but I believe it is one of the most important things. It is natural for a human brain to block out all the negative and frustrating memories. Therefore, if you didn’t hate your old employer with a passion, in your recollections your old job appears as an all-inclusive resort in comparison to this new cluster of issues. It’s easy to slip into so-called “buyer’s remorse” and start feeling sorry for yourself. I would encourage reminding yourself about why you chose to make a move in the first place and snapping out of it! Acknowledge your own victories. Make a list of all your challenges and cross them off your list as you find the courage and strength to overcome them. Celebrate every tiny milestone, because professional changes are tough, but winning will only make you a better player in a big corporate game.

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