a job hopper’s tips in surviving the workplace

Since I graduated from college in 1999, I’ve been employed in eleven different companies already — and that’s only in the span of 12 years.

I’ve been to a bank, to a publishing company, to an information technology company, to a restaurant business, to an academic institution, to a BPO, again in a publishing company, to a retail company, to a financial institution, to a cement company, to an electrical company.  I know the feeling of being a contractual, of losing a job due to an end in probationary contract, and of resigning from a job.  I’ve worked for bosses in different shapes and forms, from heaven-sent bosses to bosses from hell.

If you’re wondering where I stayed the longest and for how long, that would be in the academic institution where I lasted for four years, followed by almost three years in a financial institution, then two years in… okay, to cut the long story short, my shortest stay in a company was six days.

There is this common misconception that job hoppers have serious psychological problems. The common accusations:  emotionally unstable, difficulty adjusting to new circumstances, immaturity, inability to fit in a group, too idealistic, weak, and so on and so forth.  If you are a Human Resource practitioner and this is immediately your way of thinking because this is what was taught to you in your masteral class, or what was written in your psychology book, then I would have to say that you are quite ignorant about a lot of things.

Though it is true that some have difficulty coping with the pressures and stress in the office which is why people leave their jobs, it is also true that bad companies, bad management exist causing people to leave their jobs.  And what makes you think that those who’ve been working in a company, let’s say, for more than ten years, twenty years are perfectly happy and contented where they are, or, well-adjusted people.  I interviewed some longtime employees and I’ve asked them what made them stay that long in the company.  Most of them said it’s because they already have families to support. If they leave and be a new employee again in a company that offers a higher pay, there is no guarantee that they will be regularized after six months.  So they stay where they are, where they feel they are more secured. For those who aren’t married, though they’ve entertained thoughts about applying in another company they would back out the last minute because they dread adjusting to a new environment, to new colleagues. Because again, they dread that uncertainty, that tension of doubt like what if they wouldn’t be regularized?  What if the next company could be worse?  A long number of years in a company is not a sure sign that that person is an emotionally-stable, secure person. They could be resistant to change.

My point is, people stay in their jobs for a host of other reasons and people leave for a host of other reasons.

So for those who might be having difficulty adjusting to their jobs as new employees, I dedicate this article for you.  Because like you, I am again a new employee.  I worked for the private sector for (almost) 12 years and right now, just this year, I’ve made a big jump to government service so it’s another big adjustment for me. But whether you’re in a private office or in a government office, people you will work with are all the same.  Nag-iiba lang ang mukha, haha!

Being new in a company is the most awkward, uncomfortable stage to be in. People will look at you differently and treat you differently.  The workplace is called a jungle — an unfriendly jungle at that — for a reason. So here are my tips in surviving the workplace:

  • Be the first to reach out.  Be nice.  If they aren’t nice to you, then take comfort with the fact that you’ve done your best to reach out to them then just let them be.  They must be coping with a problem or an issue or an insecurity or something.
  • Seek out allies.  Yes, as a new employee, it is essential to find a few friends in the office that you can trust.  People who would be willing to help you as you adjust in your new environment.
  • Focus on your job.  You are there in the office to work.  Not to be involved in gossips and useless chattering.  Sometimes you will be tempted to participate in such talks for it is human nature but then again, at the end of the day, amid all the conflicts and trials, you must remember that you are there to work.  There are annoyances that you do not need to take personally.
  • Listen more.  There is this common advice that as a new employee you have to be more pakitang-gilas than everybody else around.  I don’t buy this. Displaying my knowledge ascendancy over old employees can be tricky and dangerous.  In your first six months as a new employee, be humble.  It is tempting to show to everyone that you are smart, that you want to prove something to your boss but for now, as a new employee, it is much better to be more of a student, listening more, observing more, sticking to instructions given to you, and asking questions, no matter how stupid, to get to know more about your job.  Take advantage of your first six months because it is the period of learning.  You still have a lot to learn in your new job even if you’ve had previous work experiences.
  • If you’re a subject of gossip and ridicule, ignore them.  I’m like a guy, when someone provokes me, I quickly retaliate.  I fight back. So learn from my mistake.  When you get angry or get emotional, you are letting the other person putting you down win the game. Just ignore them.  Pretend they don’t exist.  Just focus on your job.  Do well with your job. Believe in the law of karma.  Yes, makakarma din sila!
  • If a boss is giving you an unfair treatment and you tell him nicely to stop it and he won’t stop, report him to somebody higher than him.  The purpose here is letting somebody with an authority know that you are being mistreated as a new employee, especially if you are low ranking.  Do not hesitate to ask for help.
  • Be angry when necessary.  I don’t buy this conventional advice that if you feel something is wrong or if someone is mistreating you, you have to tell them nicely about it, without being emotional or getting angry at them.  But sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you have to do the untried and untested and forget about the conventional wisdom of the wise people or what the bestselling books would say (thanks to Robert Greene).  Some people can be mean and abusive. You have to show them that you don’t like what they’re doing to you even if it means showing your ferociousness, even if it means being judged by other people in return.  The workplace is a jungle filled with different kinds of animals and beasts.  And predators are lurking everywhere out to get you or eat you alive.  So show what kind of animal you are and fight back! Showing anger is not that bad.  For it makes the other person be conscious about his wrongdoing.
  • Do not mind co-workers who are bullying you.  Since they’re just rank-and-file employees just as you, their bullying are easy to deal with (although sometimes there is this temptation to punch them in their faces).  Remember what Winnie Monsod said:  “Behind a bully is a coward.”  Naniniwala ako dito.  And if I may add, they are not just cowards, but also miserable.  So cool ka lang and again, someday, makakarma din sila.  Let the universe take care of it.  Or much better, pray for them.  If you ever have the misfortune to find yourself working in a department where people are hostile, less understanding, less compassionate, judgmental, or whatever, don’t feel bad about it.  Take advantage of your situation.  You will learn something from the kind of situation you are in right now.  For this will teach you about patience, showing goodness despite the indignities, and intestinal fortitude.  You will learn more about human relations in this kind of environment.  Ang importante, sumesweldo ka at maayos kang nagtatrabaho.  Tandaan mo ‘yan!
  • Keep going.  It’s a tough world I know especially if you are a new employee.  And no matter how pleasant or nice you are, there will be people who will not like your presence.  Remember that some people will like you and some won’t.  But don’t let it stop you from doing your job efficiently and effectively. If you make a mistake, correct it then keep going.  If you messed up, learn something from it then keep going.


Written on July 29, 2012- The Best of “Living well is the best revenge” (theuntouchableone.multiply.com)




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