Ever meet a new friend, and find out that he is 21, and then 10 years later, continue to still unconsciously see him as 21. It’s hard to reorient ourselves after that first impression.
The same can be true when you start a job. People see your capabilities at the beginning and that inertia continues for long after you are much improved. This is one of the reasons it can be difficult to move up in an organization that you have been a part of for a long time.
One of the things I appreciated about going to work for a new company several years ago, was the ability to create a new reputation based on having 12 years more experience. After working at the previous company for so long, I had met many of the people and they tended to see me in the same light as they did when they first met me. A lot of things change in 12 years!
For those of you that are in a place of restarting (layoffs, relocations, etc), one thing to look forward to, is the fresh start you have by making a new first impression. For those of you still in a job, think about how you can meet new people and create new first impressions that are based on your current skill set, rather than being dragged down by impressions of your past.