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Reflections on Year Negative One

I uprooted my family a year ago to follow a job opportunity up to Chicago. I was looking for a new gig, it was a good one, and we knew we always wanted to get back up here anyway. It was a bad time to sell a house and a good time to buy one. After working for one company for the first thirteen years of my career, I somehow found myself moving on to my third employer in six years. Believe me: it wasn’t me, it was them. So it goes without saying that I was particularly careful about this jump. And now that I am one year older and wiser, I thought I’d share some of my reflections on new employment.

  • When you start your job, you aren’t starting from zero. You’re starting from negative one. After one year, you’re at zero. Trust me on this.
  • The first day of a new job is never quite like the first day of school…but it can be close.
  • It doesn’t matter how well you think you know a prospective employer; you’ll never know that employer as well as you probably should.
  • It doesn’t matter how well an organization thinks they know you as a prospective hire; they’ll never know you as well as they probably should.
  • A successful career is neither made nor broken in a years time.
  • 90% of your success in getting up a steep learning curve hinges on your efforts…no one else’s.
  • Take some time just to look around and let it sink in. Be a sponge.
  • You kind of get a free pass in the first year…don’t waste it.
  • You probably think you’re the best hire that organization ever made; they probably think you’re a pretty good hire and that’s about it.
  • Institutional knowledge goes a long way. You don’t and can’t have much of it yet. You have to earn it.
  • As much as they may tell you they want you to “shake things up,” you must only shake slightly in that first year. In fact, don’t shake at all…just jiggle a bit.
  • You should spend as much time learning about what it is other people do than you should about what it is you’re supposed to do.
  • Don’t label your friends and enemies too quickly because one may very well become the other.
  • Learning to love a job is pretty much what it’s like learning to love your spouse after an arranged marriage (I imagine).
  • You can’t possibly have solved the organization’s woes in one year. You just can’t.
  • Have some fun, smile a lot, and shake a bunch of hands.
  • A year goes pretty damn fast.
If my employer is watching, I hope they know I feel very fortunate that they found it worth their hard earned cash to bring me on board. But don’t get used to this kind of flattery.
Image Credit: svenwerk (via Compfight)
  • Bryan Wempen

    There are some nuggets of wisdom for every one and every situation in this post, well done!

  • Steve Boese

    As I am in month 2 of a new gig myself, this post really resonated with me. Fantastic reflections and advice.

  • Anonymous

    i hope yours is going well. wish i were going to be in vegas to catch up with you about it (and other stuff). thanks for the kind words.

  • Anonymous

    thank you, b.

  • Frank

    Really good list….and a very cool perspective. I like the Year Negative One idea…and that you say your success is based on your own effort. Excellent advice, man.

  • Barry

    Great points. Very clear and easy to “get it”. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    thanks, frank. really appreciate the comments. as much as we’d like organizations to get better at helping their new employees hit the ground running, it has become painfully obvious (after being on both sides of the equation) that this is often unrealistic.

  • Anonymous

    barry, ‘ease’ is what HR Fishbowl is all about…I hope. thanks for your comments.