Failing to settle into a new job

15 Jun 2010

It can take time to settle in to a new job, but for some people that settling-in period never ends.

Unless you’re a complete extrovert, being new to a job can be a very daunting experience. Even if you like the look and feel of your workplace, as a new employee you often get to the stage where you don’t want to be new anymore. Instead, you want to be comfortable enough to lead your own projects, to know what’s expected of you and to walk into the canteen as one of the gang. F

Miriam Ahern, managing partner, Align Management Solutions, says people sometimes never settle in their job due to a lack of support. “It’s very difficult for all of us when we start a new job. Managers have a responsibility to provide the support, but unfortunately, a lot of companies don’t have an informal induction process.”

The employee should, however, distinguish between new-start jitters and intuition, says Ahern. “The best advice is to know yourself and know how you normally behave in those situations, so you know if it’s just jitters or something else.”

Ahern advises new employees to actively look for solutions to their problems before making any decision to leave their job. “Certainly, if somebody feels they are floundering, after a couple of days they should flag the situation with their supervisor. Nobody develops themselves by walking away from problems.”

The reasons new jobs fail can be varied — anything from employers overselling the business during the interview, to a perfect job offer coming in just weeks after you’ve started.

The consequences

If you do leave shortly after joining, you may not be obliged to work out a period of notice. Only those who have been in continuous employment for at least 13 weeks are obliged to provide their employer with one week’s notice. However, leaving a new job just days or weeks after starting can have its consequences.

If you are contractually bound to your new job, you should make sure that you fulfil your contract. In addition, expect a bad reaction from your boss. He or she has, after all, spent time and money recruiting you and will have to start that search again.

If you do leave a job quickly, try to smooth the path as much as possible. If you work within a small industry, a quick departure may damage your reputation.

“To keep your own reputation intact, whatever the conditions in employment you entered were you should maintain those. If you don’t honour your employment contracts, that’s the type of thing that can come back to bite you,” says Ahern.

Serial job hoppers should give some serious consideration to leaving a new job, as a series of gaps on the CV doesn’t look good to prospective employers. On the other hand, if you’ve worked in one job for a decade and this is your first time leaving as a new hire, that one bad move shouldn’t ruin your career.

Ahern says just because you leave a company after a short period, it doesn’t mean you have to tell your future employers. “It’s completely at your own discretion. However, if you have a gap in your CV you may be asked about it; the trick there is to have an honest but good reason for leaving the new job.”

Notwithstanding, Ahern advises people to go with their gut instinct. “I’m a great believer in intuition, and if you very quickly feel ‘this is not for me; they’re not my type of people; the way the company does business is against my own personal values; or I really can’t see myself settling in’, then you should consider leaving.”

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