Reyer: Before plunging into job, plan for challenges ahead

  • Article by: LIZ REYER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 4, 2011 - 5:23 PM

QAfter being out of work for quite a while, I'm happy to say that I'm starting a new job. But I'm concerned about getting back into the routine smoothly. What can I do to have a successful transition?

APay attention to your new environment, and keep the other aspects of your life as stable as possible.

The inner game

First of all, celebrate! It can be a long road to finding employment, so take time to be happy! And then, start to think through your transition strategy.

Begin by anchoring yourself in the positive -- the reasons that you were hired. Consider your skills and the experience you bring to the role. Also take time to reflect on what you've learned during your time of unemployment; all of this will help you enter your new role with an air of confidence.

Then consider the aspects that you're concerned about. They may include having more structured time, meeting new people, mastering new responsibilities, even fitting in from a dress code and culture perspective. For areas of greatest concern, think back on past experiences in the workplace. What has worked well for you when you've started positions in the past? Have you noticed any faux pas from others you've observed that you'd want to avoid?

The outer game

To prepare for re-entry, create an action plan that launches prior to your first day. Your pre-job plan should include physical preparation. Start going to bed and getting up at times that fit your new job. Check your wardrobe. If you don't know the dress code, call to find out if it's business casual or more formal, and be sure that your clothes are up to snuff. Also pay attention to your emotions, working to stay on an even keel so that any "first day of school" anxieties don't escalate.

Once you're there, calibrate your interactions. Be friendly, but don't rush into alliances too quickly. Focus more on learning, and less on telling. One of the least popular people in the workplace is the "new to the job know-it-all."

Get clarity on performance expectations. Spend time with your boss so that you understand exactly what is expected of you. Another common pitfall is putting too much time and energy into the wrong thing, so head that off right away.

Keep the rest of your life as calm as you can. Think twice before starting a class or taking on a new volunteer commitment. You'll likely be fatigued at the end of a workday, so make sure that you give yourself room to recharge. Make sure you build good eating and exercise habits into your new routine, and an energizing -- not draining -- amount of time for other social parts of life.

Ask for support from your friends and family. Even positive changes are stressful, and having help from people around you can help you transition smoothly. At the same time, understand that your new job status may affect others, and be supportive of them, in turn.

The last word

Plan for the challenges and take care of yourself; this will help you successfully launch your new job.

What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at liz@deliverchange.com.

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