Job hopping is a common phenomenon among new graduates in their early career. Why? Because the psychological contract between employee and employer has shifted in the Digital Age.
Loyalty was a given in a previous era, but it’s being chipped away by a greater emphasis on the search for genuine meaning at work and the breadth of choice and opportunity. Yes, loyalty while you are with that employer, just not for life. This creates challenges for getting off on the right foot for both employer and the new employee.
What personal strategies help young graduates survive and thrive for that initial probation period where both parties ask themselves ‘have we made the right choice?’
Julie Bishop of JobHop says: “An average life-span of a job is now 3 years and that’s because our young generation of workers want as much experience as they can get, they want to climb the career ladder fast and they won’t hang about in a job that they’re dissatisfied with, they’ll simply hop to another.”
A potential danger of a job-hopping mindset in the first few months is that you underestimate what it takes to succeed in the probationary period.
Here are 5 pitfalls and how to avoid them so you give yourself and the job a chance:
‘It’s my employer’s job to show me the ropes and to develop me, I expect to get promoted early.’ Career Influencer, JT O’Donnell cites studies that someone who doesn’t perform well in the first 90 days will get worse over time and negatively impact how their colleagues perform.
As she says: “If you aren’t showing signs your personality, aptitude, and experience are going to meet their expectations, they don’t want to waste time keeping you on. They’d rather cut their losses and look for a better fit.”
Be the person you sold to the company from Day One. Ensure your behaviours match your personal brochure. Keep being that independent learner you were at college.
‘I’ve got the job, there is plenty of time to show my abilities, if I don’t like it I can always leave.’ You may not get the chance or the choice if you don’t hit the ground running.
Turn the first impression into a lasting impression. Every time you meet someone new, it’s a ‘moment of truth’ – see them as your customer and exceed their expectations. Build credibility and trust by being proactive rather than reactive, rolling your sleeves up and getting involved.
3. Culture Shock
I feel uncomfortable because I don’t know how things get done around here, it’s tough at the start when you feel unconsciously incompetent.’ It’s common to put your foot in it accidentally when you are new to the company’s culture because you don’t know what you don’t know.
Expect the unexpected. Don’t be too risk-averse – show initiative and accept you will make some mistakes. Discover the unwritten rules by taking the plunge, asking questions, listening and observing.
You have a short window of opportunity when you are new to see what others take for granted. Reflect back objectively what you see and test if they would welcome your ideas at this early stage. If so, show them your creativity.
4. Poor Relationship Management
Here are some of the difficulties experienced by one graduate in her first job: “How do I speak to someone above me? What stories about my social life can I tell to my colleague next to me? How do you speak to a 55-year-old man in the office when you have only ever been surrounded by your peers? They are not your parent but also not your friend. How do you talk to them and what about?”
Do the graft and show your worth. Get experience in handling working life. Learn to filter what you share. Join in with social events to get to know your colleagues. Take an interest in them as people. Getting on with your manager is crucial – help them to help you.
5. The Grass is Always Greener
There is a temptation to say this to yourself when things don’t go well or feel right. Data is emerging that, within corporate environments, what a person can learn between two and five years in the same company is major – as you get experience under your belt, become more trusted and given greater responsibility. It can set you back personally if you have to start over again elsewhere.
Test your assumptions to inform the decision to stay or go. What evidence do you have for your belief? Talk it through with friends you trust, a coach or mentor. The grass is always greener where you water it.
Giving it your all straight away helps to road test whether or not this job and employer is the right one for you. Anything half-hearted will get exposed quickly. And that’s not a pleasant experience for you or your employer.
Be authentic and professional when you start a new job, so you nail the probationary period and get the chance to fulfil your potential.