Starting the Job: The Psychology of Change


We all like structure in our lives.  When you go to work, you establish working relationships and friendships, you know what you have to do and when, where to get resources, and how to get things done.  Once you know the routines you get comfortable.  Then, when you change jobs or companies or receive a promotion, that comfort level is thrown out of alignment.  You have to start over and you begin to have anxiety.  Questions arise:  “Will I be able to do this job?” “Will I like my boss and colleagues?” “Is this a good career move?”  You may not sleep well. Is this normal?  You bet it is.  It would be abnormal if you didn’t have these feelings.  Here are some Dos and Don’ts:


  • Give yourself time to adjust – it doesn’t happen overnight
  • Speak with your mentor, and people who have done the job, about what you will have to do to succeed
  • Understand which skills from your previous job are important, which skills will need further development, and which skills need to be used less or not at all
  • Plan to work long hours in the beginning, but make sure you get enough sleep
  • Keep a life in addition to work
  • Make transitions with colleagues and friends so you remain in touch but can move on
  • Change the relationships to cordial but boss/colleague if you are promoted to be the boss


  • Assume that everything will go smoothly – it will not, so figure you will learn on the fly
  • Think that you have learned about the job through the interview process – the boss had an “interview hat” on and was in a “sell” mode
  • Accept the word of others that “you will be fine” – if the company has an orientation program take it – if not, set a make-shift orientation program yourself
  • Think you have to have all the answers – ask for help

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