How to Overcome Those New-Job Jitters

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 08:59

Starting a new job can be stressful, but there’s no need to sweat. You can stifle the nerves by being prepared and in no time, the scary new environment will be old hat. By Emma Williams

No matter what your experience level, the first day and even the first week at a new job is a nerve-racking experience. Starting a new job is strangely reminiscent of the first day at school – everything is different and unfamiliar, you don’t know anyone and even the little things, like not knowing where the lunchroom is located, can be distressing. The pressure to hit the ground running can be immense, so we’ve put together some simple tips to keep you on track for a successful start.

Plan your trip to work

As simple as this sounds, this piece of advice can never go astray. Even if you know where you are going, it is important to plan your trip to work, allowing yourself extra time in case you need it. A dry run in the days before you start, at the time you’ll be leaving for work, is also a good idea. The last thing you want is to be stressing you’ll be late on your first day.

Get plenty of sleep

New jobs are stressful – there is so much to learn and your brain will be overloaded with information to process. Making sure you hit the hay early, not only the night before the big day but also for the first week or weeks of your new job, will ensure that you’re well rested and on top of your game.

Wear something conservative and professional

First impressions count and when in doubt you want to err on the side of caution. Once you have been there for a while, you will get to know the workplace culture and may be able to dress more casually. However, when starting out, over-dressing is the better option as it will make you look professional and show your new boss you take the role seriously. Looking polished and put-together on the first day makes sense because you will be meeting so many new people.

It is ok to ask questions

You’re not expected to know everything and asking questions is the right way to get a feel for the procedures of the company. If you’re worried about looking incompetent by asking a question, remember it’s better to look like an idiot than to do something wrong and prove it.

Listen and observe before suggesting changes

You may not like the way your new workplace is running and think it could do with a few tweaks, or you may have even been brought in to make changes, but it is important you don’t rush into them. When you start you should ease into it by observing and listening to really get a feel for the new environment.

People are always wary of change, meaning that if you rush into changes you may put people offside. You may also not have adequately assessed the company or your new team’s strengths and weaknesses, meaning the changes you implement may not be the best possible fit. Just because something worked well at your old job doesn’t mean it will suit your new situation.

Demonstrate the skills and talents you sold the company on

The job interview doesn’t end the minute you get the offer. Even though you are learning the ropes, you still need to show your new boss why they hired you. In the beginning you’ll be under scrutiny as your new bosses assess how you’re going to fit into the company and it is your time to prove they made the right decision. The last thing you want is for them to think, “I should’ve hired that other guy”. So if you said in your interview, for example, that you’re super organised, then be super organised.

Expect everything to be different

We are creatures of habit, so it is understandable that when we find ourselves in situations we are unaccustomed to we can get anxious.

Reminding yourself that everything is going to be completely alien to start with, but in no time it will be old hat, can be a way of keeping calm. By accepting the unknown we can make peace with it.

This article appeared in the April 2014 edition of Management Today, AIM’s national monthly magazine.