New Job Anxiety? Learn How to Survive the First Day, Week, and Month of Your New Job

Starting a new job means a new routine and learning new responsibilities. You want to set yourself up for success, as I imagine you intend to keep this job (at least for now).

Most people feel nervous about starting a new job. There are a lot of unknowns, like what your desk setup will be like, whether you will get along with your coworkers, and where you park. Having new job anxiety is completely normal.

The more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel from day one. Here’s what you need know to survive your first day, first week, and first month of your new job.

The First Day of Your New Job

Before you start your first day, clarify who to meet with, when to meet them, and where. Feel free to introduce yourself to the front desk staff and ask for directions if applicable.

A colleague will likely give you a tour of the facilities, introduce you to people in the office, and guide you to your workspace. Once settled, you’ll fill out your initial paperwork, such as tax forms, direct deposit forms, and nondisclosure agreements. You will also review workplace policies, such as attendance, dress code, etc.

You will need access to the different internal systems, such as emails, shared files, and programs used, so expect to spend some time with someone from the IT department. If necessary, additional training for the different systems may be provided as part of your onboarding.

Make a Good First Impression

First impressions stick, so you want to make a good one with the people you meet on your first day. Smile, say hello, and expect small talk.

People are likely to ask you similar questions about where you worked before or why you wanted to work here. Preparing a brief answer will help you feel less nervous. To make an even more favorable impression, ask them something about themselves, such as how long they’ve worked here or what their role is, and actually listen to their answer.

Your actions, like listening more than talking and taking detailed notes, will reinforce your commitment.

Absorb as Much as You Can

A lot will be thrown at you on day one, so be ready to absorb as much information as you can. Bring a notebook and pen with you, and write things down – you will forget otherwise!

I also suggest grabbing copies of marketing materials to teach you about the company’s products and services. Knowing what words and phrases the company uses to describe itself will help you speak its language from the start.

Find Your Go-To Person

Figuring out who your go-to person is will do wonders at calming those nerves. Typically this is the person assigned to train you, but it may be an administrative associate or office manager. Whoever it is, knowing exactly who to ask about procedures or where to find the things you need will make adjusting to your new working environment much easier.

What to Bring on Your First Day of Work

You may be eager to settle in and want to bring everything you need to be productive and comfortable at the office. But on your first day, limit yourself to a small, manageable bag. Over time, you can personalize your space once you know what you need and what sort of space you have to work with.

Some of the things to bring with you when you start your new job include:

  • Notebook and pen
  • Day planner
  • Identification
  • Sweater, shawl, or suit jacket (depending on the dress code)
  • Tissues and hand sanitizer
  • Bagged lunch, water bottle, and coffee thermos
  • One or two pictures or trinkets for your desk

What to Wear on Your First Day of Work

business casual office workers
Image Credit: PeopleImages.com and Depositphotos.

Your outfit and how you present yourself are part of that first impression mentioned earlier.

Hopefully the hiring manager provided details on the dress code when you accepted the offer. But if not, there are a few things you can do. The simplest way is to ask. Call reception and mention you are a new hire, or email the hiring manager you’ve been communicating with. Trust me, they won’t mind and might even appreciate that you went through the effort.

Or, you could check out their social media to get a sense of what people in your department or similar roles are wearing at work.

Either way, you will likely need to follow a business or business casual dress code in the office. If the company suggests business attire, wear a suit, formal dress, or a skirt suit on your first day.

If the company has a business casual dress code, dress pants and an appropriate top are best. You can always bring a suit jacket that will quickly dress up or dress down your outfit.

Some additional tips to help you look your best on your first day of work include:

  • Don’t wear something brand new; it may have an irritating flaw or be uncomfortable
  • Wear clothes that fit you
  • Avoid stained or tattered clothing
  • Keep your nails clean
  • Use neutral colors for makeup
  • Wear comfortable, closed-toe dress shoes

The First Week at Your New Job

Your first week at work will primarily consist of training and paperwork. However, by the end of the week, you should start to feel more settled and acclimated to your position. Hopefully, that anxiety you felt on your first day has lessened.

It’s okay if you still feel a little lost or unsure about certain things, though. Most organizations have cycles that could be monthly or annual. You really won’t grasp everything until you’ve experienced at least one full cycle, and you certainly won’t learn everything in only five days.

What to Focus on First

You are at work to complete a job, so you should focus on it first and foremost. Take your training seriously and complete it as efficiently as possible.

Start helping customers if that’s part of your role, or ask your direct supervisor for tasks to work on. They may have new assignments they expect you to handle, or you might take over existing projects that someone else covered while the position was vacant.

Adjusting Outside of Work

It’s healthy to cut yourself some slack while you adjust to your new job. It will take time, especially if you were previously unemployed. Simply having a daily routine again is an adjustment in itself.

As a new employee, you know people are paying attention to your work and how you get along with everyone. Plus, you are trying to establish a routine, getting used to your commute, and navigating office politics – all while learning a new role. That’s a lot for anyone to handle!

You might feel exhausted; maybe ordering take out a little more than usual as you adjust to your new schedule or tossing and turning throughout the night. You might even question if you made the right decision.

All of this is perfectly normal. Give yourself time to adapt. You’ll get there before you know it.

Building Relationships

group of young coworkers laughing in the office
Image Credit: IgorTishenko via Depositphotos.com.

Part of succeeding in your position will involve collaborating with others. Take the time to develop relationships with these people, as you will now see them every weekday.

Introduce yourself to the other people in the office. Go the extra mile and bring donuts into the office as an icebreaker.

Although people may have the same job title, the projects or clients they manage might be very different. So as you get to know people, learn who does what around the office. This will help you know who to go to when you have questions – and you will as a new employee.

You should also note the internal hierarchy so that you know who to go to first and who to turn to when issues escalate.

Review Your Training

The first couple of days at your new job will be a whirlwind. You may forget some of the information you learn during orientation, so reviewing your notes and getting clarification early on is helpful. Not knowing the answer to something from your training several weeks into the role might look bad, but asking during your first week is perfectly acceptable.

What to Avoid

As an eager new employee, you might have plenty of ideas and suggestions, but it’s best to hold off on sharing them for now. Yes, you are talented and were hired to bring those skills to the organization. However, suggestions can come across as criticisms, especially from somebody new.

Once you better understand the procedures and systems, you can start suggesting tweaks to improve them, and they will be more readily received.

The First Month at New Job

After your first month, you should now be an established team member and not just the new person. You will still be learning the job but can perform most tasks on your own.

Build a Routine

Start creating systems that allow you to do your job well. For example, you could give yourself an hour every morning to answer emails and set aside every Tuesday afternoon to focus on client follow-up calls.

It’s a good habit to use the last part of your workday to tidy up, determine what tomorrow’s to-do list entails, and jot down what you worked on. This keeps you organized and also acts as a record of your accomplishments.

Clarify Expectations and Performance Metrics

At this point, your superiors will have expectations for you. You should understand these expectations and how they will be measured. Do you have a sales target to meet each quarter? Are you required to maintain a minimum customer satisfaction level? Or complete a certain number of projects?

You should also know how to check your own progress so that you can make adjustments if necessary. For example, if completing a report takes five times as long as it takes others, you can address and fix that.

Review Your Paperwork

happy woman wfh looking at documents
Image Credit: baranq via Depositphotos.

Take the time to really go over your new hire paperwork. Look over what benefits you have as a new employee, and figure out if there are others that you want to add. Things like health and life insurance may have an enrollment period (usually 30 to 90 days) you don’t want to miss.

Now that you have a better understanding of how the organization operates, you should also learn about company policies in detail. For example, things in your employee handbook or union contract may not make sense to you as a brand-new employee but will after a few weeks on the job.

Set Up Your Space

Part of settling into a role is settling into your space. Don’t go overboard, but having comfort items like a backrest and personal items like a family photo make your workdays that little bit better.

What to Do If You Hate Your New Job

New jobs can be intimidating and confusing, but you must not let your nerves get the best of you.

If your negative feelings about your new job stem from fear, stick with it. This fear often disappears as you learn the role, settle in, and start making work friends.

If it will help, take some time to work on the areas you need improvement. This is your chance to learn and grow. Your new boss wants you to succeed, so ask them if you don’t know where to get the resources you need. They will be happy that you identified the problem and asked for help early. With the right tools and a little extra work, you can learn everything you need to know to thrive.

However, some people just aren’t cut out for certain jobs. You might be reconsidering the position if your values don’t align with the company’s values or your role doesn’t match the job description. Some employers sound impressive and promising on paper and during the interview process, but the reality is far more bleak.

If you decide a position isn’t for you, you should start looking for a new job before leaving. Although job hopping has become more common, it’s not great to have on your resume. And, of course, being without a job at all is a really tough situation to be in.

New Job Anxiety Won’t Last Long

When it comes to a new job, preparation is everything. Walk into work on your first day looking and feeling good, even if you are feeling anxious on the inside.

Be ready to work, listen carefully, and do what you can to make a good impression with your new colleagues. Hopefully, you’ll be working with them for a long time.

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