I wanted to share with you some thoughts that I have had about starting a new job. Since finishing University 10 years ago, I have had 3 jobs. Although everyone’s experience of starting a new job is different, I think these tips will help to keep things in perspective:
- We all experience the first day in a new job. Everybody goes through being introduced to new people and instantly forgetting everyone’s name. Worrying about what to wear and where you’ll be sitting are part and parcel of starting a new job.
- The reality is that it’s the long-lasting impression that you give your colleagues and your manager that matters, not just the impression you give during the initial few hours on your first day.
- I have noticed that becoming familiar with your workplace, getting to know the people you are working with, and grasping what you’re supposed to be doing every day is a gradual process that takes time.
Picking an approach
I can’t think of a job where managing your own time and showing a bit of initiative isn’t really important. Making sure you cover the basics during the opening days and weeks of your new job will help to ensure that you are making a positive start. These basics include:
- Being on time.
- Having the frame of mind where you want to learn and take on board new information.
- Asking questions and asking for help if you need to.
It’s undeniable that we all have our own individual worries about the different aspects of starting a new job.
My tip would be to focus on the 3 main worries you have before you start your new job. Pick an approach to deal with those 3 best you can, so instead of hoping they won’t come up, you will have thought of an approach to overcome those worries and you can start to focus on…
Don’t overlook your strengths and potential to excel in your new role. It’s often easy to forget about the many great attributes that you have. Hard-working, loyalty, listening, perseverance, persistence, resilience and approachability are characteristics you already have that will help you overcome your worries about starting a new job.
Revisiting the job description, what you wrote on your application form or the answers you gave at interview are all ways of reminding yourself of your ability to do well in the job and can help you to identify your strengths and potential.
Do first impressions really count?
For most of us, we worry about how others might be viewing us when we first meet new people, particularly if that new person is a colleague or the manager.
It’s human nature to form an instant impression of someone when we first meet them. But that first impression will seldom be the same impression that we keep of that person forever…
Take my first impression of Dave. My first job after University was as a trainee Careers Adviser. I started that role alongside other people that I had never met before and, because we were all in training, much of the first weeks were spent together as a group.
On my first day, we were asked to introduce ourselves and tell everyone in the group a bit about our background. I was worried about this as I hadn’t had many jobs previously and had just finished University so didn’t feel I had anything particularly impressive to say. One of the first people to introduce themselves was Dave. He said…
“Well, before this I was working in the film and distribution industry.”
*When he said that, I remember thinking to myself that this person seemed confident and must have had good jobs in the past. I started rethinking what I should say when it was going to be my turn to introduce myself*
The trainer replied to Dave asking “The film and distribution industry – that’s interesting – what did that involve?”
With a cheeky expression on his face, Dave said, “Oh, I was serving popcorn and drinks in my local cinema.”
Thinking about it now, I’m pretty sure Dave (who is good friend of mine to this day) was nervous about meeting new people and was worried about being asked about what he had done in the past, in front of other people. He picked an approach that meant that he could deal with the situation in a way that worked for him.
Dave used humour, but the approach you pick might be to take some time away from your desk if you start to feel worried or anxious. It might be to read some positive words that you have written down, to call upon when you need to.
These approaches don’t cover all situations, but the important thing is to choose an approach that works for you.
It’s normal to feel unsure and to make mistakes when starting a new job. Everybody has their own apprehensions about it, but allowing yourself some time to get know new colleagues and reminding yourself of your strengths will really help.
Edmund Lewis, AGCAS Disability Task Group, University of West London