As I look back on my first year working for Optimum Recruitment I was shocked to think what has transpired since I made the move to Brisbane. This time 12 months ago Anna Bligh was leading Queensland and the State Government was hiring at will. The mining boom was well and truly rolling along with virtually no end in sight. Australia was ranked the best One-Day International Cricket team in the world and I was being taught how to use Microsoft Outlook (The look on some of my colleague’s faces when they heard I hadn’t even used Outlook was something to remember!)
As I role into my second year of Recruitment I couldn’t help but notice how much things have changed both professionally in the wider market, internally within Optimum Recruitment and even in my personal life. I have noticed that I have had to take on more responsibility at work and have definitely had to take more accountability for my actions. I can no longer blame it on being the “new guy” or the graduate, which is both a good and a bad thing at times! Although it is nice to have the safety net of blaming your error on your inexperience, it also can promote a sense of complacency and corner cutting. Once you take the training wheels off your bike you know that if you don’t balance properly, you’ll take skin off. Similarly in the workplace, once you have been trained and given some initial slack you know that if you don’t follow the correct procedures, do your job right and take ownership of the situation then you will take skin off in the form of your boss’s wrath! (Some bosses dish this out with greater regularity than others!).
To quote a famous super hero movie, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Although I am a long way off having any sort of great power, I do feel a little more responsibility which has put me in an interesting position over the past month or so. Footballers have often spoken of the 2nd year syndrome referring to stand out rookie footballers who, although they set the world on fire in their first year, fail to strike a spark in their second. Some go on to learn from this and be a better player and a better person in years 3, 4, 5….. and so on. Others struggle with the added pressure, the expectation, the fear and the lack of dazzling flames that come from the same performances that they had put up one year earlier. Perhaps you’ve found yourself in a similar position? Or seen it affect a co-worker? Regardless of whether you have noticed it or not, it occurs in many situations in life.
I have had to wrestle with this in recent times and with this being my first real job after university, I have probably struggled with it more than some of my other more senior colleagues who have had their transition into second year come and go seamlessly. Pushing yourself to develop new and better skills is a sure fire way of breaking out of this syndrome and continuing with the foundation that you have built in your first year. It can sometimes seem so easy to give up or lay blame on the market or bad luck, but really, as I mentioned before, the individual has to take more responsibility for the situation they are in.
As people sit in their roles contemplating whether or not they need a career change after 13 or 14 months in their position, maybe they should also think about how they can improve themselves in order to push past that “2nd year” barrier. So many employers look for longevity and stability in a candidate’s background, perhaps this is because, for one, it proves that that particular candidate has the determination and the ability to push themselves instead of just giving up at the first hurdle.
Maybe before you throw the towel in and move to a new job you should sit back, take a deep breath and ask yourself, what can I do differently / better to get through this tough period? After all, “you can only enter halfway into the dark forest before you begin to come out the other side.”
Isaac Dufficy – Consultant