So you made it through the interviews. You received a great offer. You’re ready to begin the best new job of your career. Then why is your gut still roiling? Because now you’re wondering if you can actually pull this off. Don’t worry, first week jitters are not unusual.
According to a 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, salaried employees between the ages of 25 and 34 stay with an employer for less than three years. In other words, there are many first days ahead of you. To keep your experience from looking like an episode of “Survivor,” we have some tips for tackling your new adventure.
Pre Game Day
The first day will be brain numbing enough — keep your morning stress free. Prep your outfit, plan your drive time and put items you’ll need by the door. And, go to bed at a reasonable time. Definitely not the night to binge the latest K-drama.
What To Wear
Just like the first day of school — junior high flashback, anyone? — plan your clothing the night before. Is there a dress code at work? Unless there’s a uniform, you’ll have to decide what to wear. Most workplaces are pretty casual nowadays (thanks, COVID), but if you’re unsure of company policy, you can always ask.
Dress comfortably. Toe pinching shoes or tight waisted pants won’t help you stay relaxed. But maybe not that coolio Transformers T-shirt. It’s always better to overdress a bit rather than underdress.
If you didn’t go to the office for the interview, do a dry run before your first day. Not the thorough bank heist kind. Just drive by the building so you know how long it takes to get there and where you can park. Be sure to factor in traffic. Minus commuters, I-15 is dramatically different at 11 a.m. than it is at 8:30 a.m.
Plan to arrive a few minutes early. Take a deep breath — which you’ve verified is minty fresh — do a power pose and then walk through the door with confidence.
People Are People
Part of the reason starting a new job is nerve wracking is wondering where you fit in. Get a head start on being the personable teammate.
Chances are you’ll meet several people in your first few days. At home — not in the elevator — practice what you might say. Introduce yourself, your new position and how excited you are to be there.
Even if you’re working remotely, make an effort to get to know people during online calls. Before a meeting, for example, ask icebreaker questions to learn more about your coworkers' likes and personalities.
There may be loads of names to remember. Don’t worry, even if you’re not a mnemonic device diehard. Write down who you meet, along with a short description to help keep track of who they are and what they do. And if you forget two days later, it’s fine to ask again. Faking it for six months? That can get awkward.
All You Need is Friends, Friends
Finding a friend can help you feel grounded as well. Is there someone you connected with during the interview, or who is new themself? Invite them to lunch. You may not become best friends, but it’s nice to feel like you know someone. Also, befriending coworkers can help you feel more comfortable asking questions.
Seemingly endless information is going to be thrown at you the first few days. Instead of worrying about mastering it all right away, focus on what you need to know most. Getting your computer set up correctly is far more important than knowing how to submit a vacation request. At least during the first week.
You may need to fill out paperwork and attend orientation. Trainers often go over details quickly. Stop them if you have specific questions or need a repeat of instructions you didn’t quite understand. Or if you missed it because you were daydreaming about the free doughnuts you noticed in the breakroom. Keep your eyes from glossing over by taking notes.
You Are Here
If possible, ask for a tour of the office space. Locate the lunchroom, bathrooms, stairwells and water fountains, as well as any meeting spaces. Is there a gym? Awesome. A massage chair? Nice. Getting a lay of the land can help you feel more in control.
Questions, Questions, Questions
Not to say you should milk it, but excusing your ignorance with “Sorry, I’m new here” is legitimate. Employers understand you just started and don’t know everything yet. Go ahead and ask about unclear terminology, processes, software and policies.
That doesn’t mean you should sound like a 4-year-old. If it’s something that can be figured out on your own, or with a quick search of the internet, try that first. But your supervisor would rather you ask a question than guess incorrectly.
Most coworkers are a great resource and are happy to help. After all, they had a first week, too. Those in your department can probably answer your questions and may even offer tips on navigating the workplace or where to eat lunch.
We’re just going to say it: It’s going to feel overwhelming no matter what. Each business runs a little differently, so even if you have loads of experience, there will be facets to learn in your new position. Embrace the opportunity to discover another way of doing things.
Show you’re eager to become an integral part of your team by being friendly and teachable. And remember to thank others for helping you learn the ropes. People like that.
Keep On Truckin’
Relax, no one gets it all in one day. Or even two or three. If you feel in over your head, remind yourself that first, you’re not going to die. Second, everyone needs time to process an unfamiliar environment. If you’re anxious, have a pep talk.
- Give yourself a time frame: I can quit in two weeks if it doesn’t work out. I’m not trapped here forever.
- Text your best friend — or mom — and ask for some encouragement.
- Remind yourself that you were hired for this job, someone clearly thought you were qualified.
- Go outside and take some deep breaths. Or calmly walk to your car and cry for a few minutes. Just don’t ugly cry, that might leave a mark.
Chances are, you’ll feel just fine by the start of week two, and probably even sooner. It just takes a few days to figure out the pattern of your day.
Find your new employer on KSL Jobs, nail the interview and then prepare yourself for a crazy good first week. Once you’re there, ask questions, be friendly and recognize it will take a few days to acclimate. You’ve got this!