Feeling the new job jitters? We've all been there. Some even suffer from severe anxiety about starting a new job.
New job anxiety is rooted in fear of the unknown. This new chapter of your life leaves a lot of room for “what if” thinking. What if they use a software you don’t know? What if your new manager doesn’t like you? What if you don’t pass your probation?
You want to make a great first impression and secure your new position by fitting in and bringing new skills and ideas to the table. And you’ve got what it takes! For most people, it takes a few days to a few months to overcome new job nervousness and feel more confident and settled.
In the meantime, there are some things you can do to help feel more relaxed and ready. Check out our top tips to overcome first-day nervousness.
“New” doesn’t last forever
Change can be scary, but nothing is "new" for long. Look back on the first few days at your previous job and how you felt then. You made it in the end, didn't you?
It can help to put things in perspective by picturing yourself in two weeks, a month, or even a year. All these acronyms, processes and software might seem like a parallel universe now, but soon they’ll feel like second nature.
Trust your employer
If you’re not sure about yourself right now, direct your attention to those around you. You’re not the only person involved in the hiring process. Think of the recruiters and managers who chose to make you progress to the next stage and made the decision to hire you.
In a nutshell: trust your employer when starting a new job. Your anxiety is lying to you. Your new company chose you for a reason, and they wouldn’t invest time and money into someone they don’t think can do the job well. They believe in you, so why wouldn't you?
Manage your own expectations
Every job has a learning curve. That might be the most important thing to remember if you suffer from first-day-of-work anxiety. You might be excellent at your job, but you’re only human! Don’t set the bar too high when it comes to the productivity you expect from yourself.
There are bound to be differences between your previous role and this next one. You're not expected to know, understand, or do everything perfectly immediately. That’s why most companies have an onboarding process to help you familiarize yourself with their ways of working.
Get prepared. Planning for your new job can help you overcome your fears and boost your confidence. It’s a great way to prevent new job anxiety from shooting through the roof on your first day.
No need to overdo it and overwhelm yourself, though! You can simply take time to read about the company, read through its website, and familiarize yourself with the products or services they offer. If it’s a role or an industry you’re not familiar with, try to talk to someone more experienced and read about the main opportunities and challenges you might be facing there.
It can also be helpful to read through your job specs again and have a rough idea of what you’d like to tackle first. You can even write down some of your questions and ideas in a brand-new work notebook!
Talk it out
Talk to someone you trust. They'll probably reassure you, help you find solutions, and maybe even share their own experience.
If you want to talk to other professionals without reaching out to your new workmates, an anonymous community such as TalkLife Workplace can provide a safe, supportive environment to talk about starting a new job and the anxiety it might trigger.
Mindfulness can be a great tool to relax on your first day of work if anxiety is threatening to get the better of you. It’s characterized by a focused and non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. That means paying attention to thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment, without becoming overwhelmed by them or getting lost in them.
Practice mindfulness and use breathwork to manage your anxiety on the first day and whenever needed. It’s an effective technique for reducing new job nervousness as it helps you to become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and to develop a greater sense of control over them.
There’s no shame in not knowing everything. Again, no one expects you to know your way around every single thing on the first day!
Don't be afraid to ask questions when you can’t find all the answers on Google or the Intranet. You'll save yourself some time and anxiety. It might even be an opportunity to bond with your new colleagues.
Connecting with your colleagues is a great way to overcome the new job jitters. It can be very helpful to get someone to show you around and help you dive into the company culture.
Need someone to show you the ropes? Get a work buddy. Some companies have systems in place to assign a "buddy" to you. If not, you can ask your teammate or desk neighbor for a nice coffee and chat.
Find your marks
Not everything has to be 100% new. If you tend to experience severe anxiety starting a new job, it can be helpful to recreate some of your work habits to feel "at home". It could be your desktop layout, a trinket on your desk, or a morning routine.
This will help you adjust to your new environment by adding an element of comfort and familiarity. It also makes for a great conversation starter with your colleagues, especially if you bring a picture of your pet or suggest a new process that makes everyone’s job easier.