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How To Avoid Accidental Career Sabotage at Your New Job

You’ve just completed a long job search and accepted a new position! Or, maybe you started a month ago and you’re just getting past the honeymoon period — where the real work starts and the training wheels have come off. The learning curve is steep and you’re feeling the pressure to prove yourself.

Wait…someone just pinged you on LinkedIn with a new opportunity. You’re not actively looking anymore, but you check it out. It sounds amazing, but you just committed to this new role and you aren’t really looking. You see an article posted on LinkedIn about their explosive growth.

Doubt creeps in…did I choose this position too quickly? The onboarding process wasn’t totally smooth. That first quarter end was a lot messier than I expected. My new manager seems busy and hasn’t really engaged on the level I had hoped they would. Starting remotely has been tough, and I don’t feel connected with my team yet.

Maybe I should just respond to this recruiter and hear them out…just to make sure I’m not missing out on something amazing. Besides, I can fit this interview in between meetings.

It looks like the search isn’t over.

“The distraction of choice erodes your patience with your new job, reduces the effort you put in, and keeps you from giving your current position a fair shot.”

The Paradox of Choice

The fierce job market we’re living in right now is an unusual one. In the past, candidates had to decide whether to accept one offer, or not. Maybe they had to decide between two. But today, the sheer number of choices can be overwhelming. And they don’t disappear after you start a new position.

Thinking about all this reminds me of a concept called the paradox of choice, outlined in a book of the same name by Barry Schwartz. In it, he writes,

“Autonomy and freedom of choice are critical to our well-being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.”

Essentially, the more choices we have, the unhappier we are. When we have hundreds of choices, we’re never happy with the one we make. 

As long as you continue to consider what might have been, or what might be, you can’t be happy with what is. The distraction of choice erodes your patience with your new job, reduces the effort you put in, and keeps you from giving your current position a fair shot. 

It Starts With the Interview Process

First, make sure everyone has clear expectations. 

What do they want to see out of you, and what do you need to see from them in order to be happy? Ask the tough questions before you commit. Don’t compromise on things that are high on your list. Get clarity on any areas of concern that pop up during the interview process. Address these things tactfully but directly.

Don’t Expect Things To Be Perfect

Every company in the world is trying to figure out how to navigate hiring, onboarding, managing and developing people in a very unique environment. Very few, if any, are doing this perfectly, even the ones that boast “Voted Top 100 Places to Work again this year!”  

But bumps in the road don’t mean this isn’t the right job for you. It could be the same anywhere else. 

Keep checking in with your manager and keep a dialogue open. Ask for feedback. Give feedback. If you’re going to highlight a problem, try your best to suggest a solution. The key is to be proactive and solution-oriented. Remember that they want you to be happy and successful.

“Every company in the world is trying to figure out how to navigate hiring, onboarding, managing and developing people in a very unique environment.”

Commit

You’ve made your choice and accepted an offer. They’ve taken down their job posting and notified the other candidates that the position has been filled.  

Stop the endless cycle of LinkedIn and Indeed alerts from sabotaging your satisfaction and performance in your new role. Turn off in mails and alerts for a set period of time. Once you’ve done that, decide on a clear time frame for yourself — maybe between three to six months — to sink all of your energy into the job you’ve just chosen. You can assess and change this time frame as you go, but eliminating some of the distractions and noise will help you focus on what’s in front of you.

Closing…

The current abundance of opportunities and remote work environment make it easy to quickly jump from one job to another without feeling the need to justify the quick move. It might be so short of a stay that you haven’t even updated your LinkedIn or your resume with the new company.

Do yourself and the job you’ve accepted justice by committing fully for a dedicated time frame before you start looking at other options. Then you’ll know you’re giving yourself and your new role a fair shot from the very beginning.

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