Career Advice

How to Manage the New Job Jitters

Shy nervous worker embarrassed afraid of speaking at corporate meeting

Starting a new job means a fresh start, full of new feelings that can be both positive and stress-inducing all at once. While you now have the opportunity to shine within a new environment, you also may experience feeling like a fish out of water. 

With the novelty and adrenaline accompanied by these new beginnings, it’s normal to experience the jitters on your first day of work. Mike Bird, career and leadership coach at CoachOiseau Career Coaching says “All the new people you’ll meet, the various tasks you’ll encounter, the change in pace: these all factor into a natural biological response to something that’s new to us”. 

If you’re starting a new gig, here are five tips to turn your nervous feelings into drivers for your own success:

1. Remind yourself of a time you were successful in something new

One of the best ways to beat your own inner critic is to pull up all the evidence you can find in favor of yourself. Run through your past events and look for proof of times that you’ve succeeded. Maybe it was a project that seemed overwhelming at first or a challenging task that you completed successfully. 

Bird says to “lean on your resilience and past triumphs to boost you up for this big day. What strength of yours allowed you to be successful in the past and how can you apply that strength once again in your new environment?”

2. Find your allies

Another great way to combat your nerves is to find some allies within your organization to lean on. Start by connecting with your new hire onboarding class. If there are new employees you meet on your first day, reach out to them once your onboarding is done and grab a coffee that week. If there is somewhere to eat lunch, consider grabbing a seat at a communal table (even if it feels uncomfortable!) instead of eating alone at your desk. 

Bird suggests that you “start looking among the folks whom you connect the most naturally with and who speak their honest views about the organization”.

Humans naturally seek comfort through connections, so building relationships early on can help ease the transition from newbie to pro. 

3. Examine the environment before diving in 

Before you hit the ground running, it’s important to first examine your new environment to better understand what kind of behavior is expected, and what kind you should omit. For example, you may be used to having a close and personal relationship with your former manager, but perhaps your new one prefers to keep things more professional. Maybe your old job required you to CC your entire team on every email, but your new employer prefers you don’t. 

As you engage in new activities and relationships, take a temperature check of the environment to better understand the nuances and realities of each situation before diving in headfirst. 

4. Ask the questions you need

When you start a new job, you might not have the same confidence in your skills and abilities that you once enjoyed in your previous role. This can naturally bring on some stress, as our egos can be closely tied to our level of self-efficacy. To combat this, remind yourself that learning and growth take time. Without asking the questions you need, it will be hard to ramp up to your desired level of expertise.

Bird explains that “now is the time to be ultra curious and soak up as much information about your new company as possible. This information will help you become more certain of your new environment while demonstrating humility and a genuine desire to be proficient in your role”.

5. Bring your authentic self to the table 

Where authenticity and vulnerability were once was a faux-pas in the workplace, these traits are now more important than ever in creating inclusive and human environments, and crucial for leading successful teams. 

Bird reminds us that “you were hired by your new company to be you and bring your unique gifts into the organization. Focus on how you can authentically apply your skills to create positive results instead of trying to please everyone”.

If you find a negative dialogue running through your head, remind yourself that everyone around you was once in your spot, and there is no expectation for you to have it all figured by the end of your first day. 

Most importantly, remember to celebrate yourself, your successes, and everything else along this journey. Love and encourage yourself enough during the good times that when the hard times hit, you have enough confidence and energy to move through them with poise and humility. 

Stacy Pollack is a Human Resources professional on a mission to improve the workplace for employees and employers alike. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or at www.stacypollack.com

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