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Community Manager

Fitting in at Your New Job - USAA Member Community


When was the last time you wore something that just didn’t fit right? Remember those jeans that were just too tight? Or maybe it was a shirt that was just too loose?

And then, of course, you might recall that painful pair of shoes that made you suffer!

Fitting in at your new job is no different. As a matter of fact, I sincerely hope these clothing analogies help you find the perfect fit at your new workplace. That said, please try this on for size!

Too Tight?

Let’s face it folks, veterans come from an environment where the military ecosystem assumes a tightly-run organization. The goal in the best of the best military units is to run a tight ship. (My Navy buddies might appreciate that!)

Be sure to take a look around. If you’re surrounded by co-workers that don’t have a “dress right dress” mentality or otherwise choose not to provide hints as to their attention to detail by way of a “high & tight” hairstyle, you might be odd man/woman out. Worse yet, you might be man overboard!

In other words, if you want to fit in at your new company, you might need to loosen up a bit.

Too Loose?

At the polar opposite end of Too Tight is Too Loose! Like an over-sized shirt that hangs over your body like a parachute, you need to pay close attention to your standards and not let things get out of hand.


I remember a time recently when I lost a significant amount of weight. Pound for pound, I gained some weight and saw the number on my waistline growing from the upper 20s to just shy of the mid-thirties. (I was literally “all that and a bag of chips”, super-sized, plus the added bonus of new health challenges for free!) I had been working in corporate America for some time and, like an aging tree, began to add “rings” around my trunk and decided it was time to get back in shape – like a lean, mean, fighting machine I used to be! So, these old clothes made me look like a turtle. They were way too loose!

At work, you cannot afford to be too loose, especially when you’re new. In the example above, my “looseness” – not exercising and eating right as I had while in the military – resulted in health challenges. I got too loose on physical training (a.k.a. P.T.).

The point is this: You learn some great things in the military that keep you from becoming too loose. For example; getting up early, developing standard operating procedures for recurring tasks, stepping up as a leader, being a good follower, staying in shape, etc.

When you’re new, everyone’s watching you. You need to know how “loose” is acceptable. You need to pay close attention to your words, behaviors, and how you interact with others on and off the job.

Know the appropriate level of looseness at your place of work. You have the power to choose to become too tight or…too loose.

Out of Style

Remember those huge collars and ginormous neckties from the 1970s? Remember platform shoes and legwarmers? Remember the reaction you got last time saw someone wearing these types of fashion?

Is your military-style out of style at your new workplace? I’m not talking about things like wearing your shiny military-issue shoes with your civilian suit or wearing an O.D. green pair of socks visible in the vicinity of the bottom of your pant leg (which should never be the case!), I’m talking about a different type of style here.

You might get “style points” for successfully completing a task at your new job. In other words, I’m talking about a task at your new job where you nailed it. It was an easy task for you because during your military service, you had plenty of opportunities to hone your skills and certain things come easy for you. People at work react by saying things like, “that new Veteran is impressive! Did you see his/her work on that tough project?”

The tendency might be that now you feel like any future projects come along will be a walk in the park, easy-breezy, “I got this!” kinda vibe. You might even be tempted to resort to military-centric ways of doing things. Will they work? You’ve got to be sure. You’ve got to rightly apply the things you learned or don’t apply them at all. You cannot rely solely on style points to get you through. You must keep up with the current “fashion trends” at your new job and make sure you’re part of the fabric.

What tip do you have for fitting in at a new job? Share your advice below.



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