How To Deal With New Job Nerves
So you’ve just been told that you got the amazing job you’ve been waiting for and then it suddenly dawns on you, you actually have to do it and get through those first few weeks. For me, it was a really strange experience: a sense of elation and then complete worry. I knew this was to be my first “proper” job after university and I’d be there for a while, so if I didn’t live up to the expectations I’d established in the interview, it’d be pretty embarrassing.
But it’s now the end of my third week and looking back I don’t know what I was so worried about. It’s important to recognise this is a significant point in your life, but it’s also important to recognise what you should and shouldn’t be worried over when starting a new job and how you can manage that pressure.
So this list isn’t exhaustive, especially as every job is different, but here are a few things I learnt:
Be yourself and say what you mean. It’s important to be natural; your co-workers can then get to know the real you. It’s super important to feel comfortable at work – you may as well start as you mean to go on.
Saying what you mean as a woman is always important, especially when you consider most people don’t tend to take women as seriously as they should be taken. I’ve recently started to cut out the word ‘just’, ‘might’ and ‘I was wondering whether’ from my emails – it sets up people to say no to you more easily, and to succeed it's important to be direct and firm.
If you are nervous, you are able let it show. Some try to overcompensate by acting super confident but this can sometimes come across as arrogance. Just remember that everyone’s been in your position at one point or another, so they’ll understand if you are.
Wear something you feel comfortable and yourself in. I got way too concerned with making the perfect first impression on the first day; I wore my most professional-looking outfit and walked into an office with people wearing New Balance, Topman hoodies and denim jackets. I judged my outfit off what the interviewers wore, forgetting that interview attire is generally an exception. At first, I think it’s better to be overdressed, but if you are worrying about it, you can always email your boss or check the job description to see what’s appropriate. Just remember it’s important to feel comfortable and most people manifest their personalities through what they wear. If you’re comfortable in your outfit, you’ll probably be more comfortable in your environment and with your work colleagues too!
If someone invites you out after work, and you’re free, say yes! Having reliable, stable friendships at work (where you’ll probably be spending a significant amount of your time) are really important. It also helps to have at least one person to expel your nervousness on. For me, it helped finding the newest person there and asking them whether they had any advice and I made sure I spent lunch with someone rather than on my own. Showing an interest in getting to know your co-workers and asking for advice is a great way to show a good impression and that you’re serious about the job.
If you have a question, ask someone. You’re not expected to know everything as soon as you walk through the door. Every workplace is different and has their own way of doing things so there will be things you don’t know yet. It’s probably more important to show proactivity and initiative by asking questions (even if something may be obvious) than to remain silent and maybe do the wrong thing.
It’s okay to ask someone’s name again (and it would be a lot worse to find out six months down the line that Andrea is actually called Julie).
Remember you’ll be training for the first few days or weeks, so you won’t be thrust into the most difficult tasks straightaway or without supervision at least. I made sure I read the job description before I started so I knew exactly what would be expected of me. If there is anything on there that you are worried about, you’ll be given a chance to voice these to your supervisor or boss during your induction or first day.
Try and relax the day before. If you make sure everything’s ready for your first day in the morning – such as your outfit, starter documents, anything you need to take to work – then you’ll have the rest of the day to focus on something positive, relaxing and enjoyable.
The main thing to take away from this is to be yourself, be sociable, and don’t be afraid of making a mistake or asking questions. You can only try your best and take each day as it comes. You’ve got the job and that really is the hardest part. Now it’s time to show them what you can do!