A New Job Is Like A Dead Smartphone

Sometimes life hits you in the face with a reality check. It may be something as simple and annoying as a rainstorm knocking out your internet for a week, or a little more significant like your son trying to see if your cell phone has the same effect on Diet Coke as Mentos. In my case, it was both... at the same time. But while one was actually a blessing (no internet at home makes it easier to catch up on last season’s Blue's Clues… he's four), the untimely death of my beloved Blackberry was quite another issue.

You are probably asking yourself, “What does this have to do with getting a new job?” and, by the end of this article, you will probably conclude that a week's worth of tracking paw prints to solve Blue's mysteries has turned my mind into the equivalent of Charlie Sheen's on a bad day. However the similarities are quite astounding.

When you lose your job, you undergo the difficult time of being shut off from a major part of your life. You don't see the people every day that you used to. Many of them were your office friends and the distance you now have with them is considerable. You wake up with no place to go but to go find another job. When your phone dies, you are cut off as well. You can't surf the latest news, easily check your email, tweet, post or update your Facebook status on the fly. It is as though you’ve had a miniature layoff.  

But then you start thinking, "Cool! I’ll get a new phone." This is where the similarities get really creepy. Now I won't equate a job search to choosing a new phone; although, if you’re like me and it's all about the features, buttons, ease of use, call clarity, price, status, and cool factor, then you can see how searching for the perfect job can be just as mind bending. Then, when you find that job, you discover the day you walk into the office for the first time that the path of excitement and annoyance becomes almost identical.

Starting a new job or getting a new phone is actually pretty exciting. The enticing pictures on the box of your new phone and its sleek design lure you in. You unwrap the packaging and extract the operations manual, which is thicker than the phone itself. You then discover all kinds of attachments - SIM card, belt clip, ear bud microphone, wall plug, car plug, etc. On the first day of your sleek new job, you get your thick employee handbook, a clean, organized new desk, a comfortable chair, and a workstation filled with pens, paperclips, computer, keyboard, and other such things you need to work.

But then it all goes downhill from there, for the jazzy new phone is nothing like your old phone. It now requires activation and a conversation with some tech person who tells you to “push this” and “dial that” in order for the phone to register its presence on the network. Email has to be configured, and the phone is filled with lots of buttons and features that you have either never seen before, or erased on your last phone because they just got in the way.

At the new job, you have orientation. Normally a long list of "do this” and “don't do that's" followed by training that is filled with new buttons, new ways of doing things or, worse yet, things you used to hate doing in your last job are heaped on your head. On top of that, you need to start meeting people. Getting to know them and starting new relationships. This is the equivalent of having to re-enter your entire contact list into your new phone (where exactly did I put my mom's phone number? Oh yes, it’s on my old phone....DOH!).

So now I have my new phone. It’s connected and I am reading the manual (written in a way to discourage you from reading it because the company assumes their phone is so simple and easy to use, why would you need to look at the manual?) (So exactly how do I get the phone to play "Cruella Deville" when the ex-wife calls?). At the new job, I am reading the handbook created by some HR Attorney who assumes you are either Charles Manson or a union organizer, only to learn that even sneezing improperly may mean discipline "up to and including termination.”

So I will spend the better part of a week getting this new exciting phone to work like my old comfortable one. Why? Because that is the way we are. The new phone is filled with all new buttons, features, conveniences, and it will take time to get used to it all. The learning curve is far more than you would think. But at least now I can call someone, I am connected again and the emptiness of reaching for a phone on my hip that isn’t there is gone, just like having a job again. You will wake up, go to work, get paid, and know that you are on your way to a more stable place than where you were the day before.

A new job and a new phone take time to adjust and your life will change a bit in order to accommodate it, but there are new things to explore and new features to try out. Sure it's exciting and frustrating, but if you have been through one, understanding the other will be a whole lot easier. Just remember, although you pay for your phone and your job pays you.....what your phone has that your job does not....is a warrantee. 




Copyright © 2011 Mike Baumgartner | HR | Consulting | Coach |  Human Resources | Search - CEO, Worklife Survival Center LLC