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New Job Blues: How to Tell If It's You or the Job, and What To Do About It

Many people head into new jobs only to find that they aren’t too thrilled with the reality of it. Whether you’ve just entered the work force for the first time or you’ve switched jobs, New Job Blues can strike. The blues usually pop up two to three months after starting working. Symptoms include:

  • Feelings of dissatisfaction or frustration
  • Feeling tired, having low energy, or feeling low-level depression
  • Feeling unfulfilled
  • Questioning your choices and your future.
  • Wondering, “This is what I went to college for?” or “This is what I left my other job for?”

The good news is that new job blues are often temporary; you might just need time to adjust to your new workplace, schedule, field, or position. You can cure the blues with a little insight, a little attitude adjustment, and some tips and strategies.

First, I’m going to tell you what NOT to do:

  • Do not disconnect from potential mentors or advisors; you might need help adjusting, acclimating, and feeling part of the team.
  • Do not assume the problem is the job and not you, or vice versa; in fact, do not assume anything.
  • Do not quit and run off to grad school or some other job.
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help from inside or outside your organization.

Now, here is what you can do to beat the blues:

The first thing is to determine the cause. It’s entirely possible that it’s not the job or the field; you just might not be used to actually having to go to work every day or are still unfamiliar with your new workplace. So try to isolate factors. Ask:

  • Is it the transition?
  • Are you just tired and out of sorts from getting up early, commuting, working set hours, etc.?
  • Are you feeling lonely because you haven’t connected with anyone at work yet?
  • Is it the job? The company?
  • Were your expectations too high?
  • Do you like what you do?
  • Look up the company ladder and around the office. Do you like what you see? Do you like what the company does?
  • Would you like to do what other people in your organization are doing?

Once you have asked and answered these questions, you should know if it’s normal transitional hiccups or if it’s something bigger, like the job itself, the company, or the field.

If it’s just transitional blues, understand that it’s perfectly normal, and that you are going to feel shockwaves for some time. It’s no small feat to become accustomed to a new routine, workplace, or job. And take a good look at your expectations and work ethic. You might have to toughen up a bit.

If you are new to the working world and you determine that you like the industry or profession but don’t like the entry-level drudgery or dues paying of your job, you have to suck it up. You will not get ahead until you have worked in that field. You’ve got to lose the green and gain experience, and that usually means starting at the bottom.

Similarly, if you like the profession or industry but do not like the company, you also have to suck it up until you have enough experience and have paid enough dues so that you can add that entry-level job to your resume. The more experience you have, even just a few months to a year, the more marketable you will be. It doesn’t look good on a resume to quit after four weeks.

Conversely, if you determine that you like the company but not the job then start networking within that organization. If they liked you well enough to hire you, there is a good chance they will help you find a more appropriate home in the organization. So meet people. Explore other opportunities. Get informational interviews with people in other areas. Volunteer to work on other projects in areas you think would make you happier. Network, network, network.

Last, if you hate the job, the profession, and the company, and you aren’t just being a baby about having to get up at 6:45 a.m., then you have to do some soul searching to determine what it is you want you to do. There are tons of resources out there to help you:

Once you figure out if it’s just normal transitional issues or it’s the job, company, or industry, you can work to cure your blues. Good luck!

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