Transitioning Into a New Job

We have made a lot of placements since January and have many candidates transitioning into new jobs. As I speak to these candidates over celebratory lunches, I hear about how challenging their transitions are, no matter how senior they are. I hear comments such as, “I feel like I am starting all over again” and “All of the sudden I don’t feel like an expert in my field because this firm does things so differently.”

Whether you have been in law firm marketing for 15 years or recruiting for 18 months, starting a new job is challenging. Even when you know your new role well, how things are done varies greatly from one firm to another. Learning what I call the “Unwritten Rules”, and specific culture of a new firm, takes time and energy.

Here are some tips for make making a successful transition:

  • Have a notebook with you at all times. Take notes on everything you hear and learn because it’s hard to remember details when there is so much new information thrown at you in the beginning. Review these notes at the end of each week and add new names into your outlook with notes on each person. As a result, you can recall who they are and when best to reach out to them.
  • Pay careful attention to processes and tone. For example, how information is distributed and who is CCd on emails. Don’t assume that communication occurs the same way at your new firm as it did at your prior.  Figuring out the “how things work around here” requires reading between the lines and not assuming anything. This necessitates that we force ourselves to step out of what we know and become open to new ways of doing things.  As uncomfortable as this is, I promise you that allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable is where all the growth lies!  Didn’t you change jobs in part because you wanted career growth?
  • Resist the temptation to think, or worse say out loud, “we used to do it like this at my old Firm.” Why? Because no one wants to hear it, and because it connects you to the past; something you must let go of to fully immerse yourself in this new opportunity. If there are things that you truly believe worked better at your previous Firm, write them down in your notebook (toward the back) under “Ideas that May Work in the Future” and wait 90 days to introduce them. Why 90 days? Because by then you should have a good sense of how this new culture works and you should have credibility that will welcome critical feedback.

Changing jobs, even in a field that you know well, can be stressful, but the learning and growth you experience will help further you along in achieving all of your career goals.

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