Experiencing new job anxiety is overwhelmingly common. Whether it be a fear of the unknown or the fear of having to prove yourself in a new industry, starting a new job can be a minefield of triggers – even to those who have never experienced anxiety before.
Yet this should be relieving, since we’ve all been in the same position. Remember that no-one is there to trick you, or expose you as a fraud, and everyone understands the insecurities and confusion that come with a new role.
Some people get so anxious at the prospect of moving jobs, that they never do. So firstly – congratulations for having the confidence to make a new start! Now you just have to tackle your first few weeks, and you’ll be thriving in no time. Here are some helpful tips to watch out for.
Root out the source of your anxiety
What specifically are you worrying about? Finding your new office? Making friends? Not knowing whether you’ll be able to complete your first tasks? Make a list of your biggest fears and come up with step-by-step solutions for resolving them. Finding clarity from considered solutions will help you dispel any irrational fears and give you peace of mind.
Practice self-care and stress management techniques
Sometimes, even with rational solutions, your anxiety just keeps on persisting! This is because anxiety is irrational, and can have your heart racing and palms sweating, even when you know it will all be alright in the end.
Keep up your stress management techniques – such as exercise, healthy food, good sleep or a relaxing hobby. Calming exercise (such as a walk or yoga) stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm us down and slow our flight or fight response.
Practice your new routine
If you’re fretting over the many things that might go wrong on your first day, take action, by practicing your entire new routine ahead of time. Take your journey to work, enquire as to where you can find your desk, and make sure you’ve sorted what you’ll need and who you can speak to.
Talk it through with friends or a professional
The best way to get perspective is by talking through your fears with friends, family or a professional. They can offer guidance, or help you see why your fears are unnecessary. In many cases, they’ll have funny anecdotes about their own first few days in a new job!
Some therapists specialise in work anxiety, and can be an incredible resource, even if just for a couple sessions, to help offer new stress management techniques.
Remember why you were hired in the first place
A lot of new job anxiety stems from imposter syndrome, so make sure to practice self-validation and remember why they gave you the job. Recruiters and hiring managers are very perceptive and will have selected you from all the other applicants because they knew you were qualified or had the potential to fulfil the requirements of the role. Take comfort in that.
For some people, writing out a list of affirmations to recite to yourself can be useful – such as: “I am qualified for this job”, “I am an asset to this company”, or “no-one expects me to be perfect”.
Invest in a scheduling tool or physical planner
In all likelihood, your first week will be hectic. You’ll be learning countless names, given tasks, or introduced to office lingo that you’re somehow expected to retain. Make sure you’ve come prepared, by bringing a good quality planner or digital calendar/scheduling tool – so that you can write down everything you learn.
Remember: so long as you’ve made a good effort to retain information, no-one can blame you for what you don’t remember. We’re only human, and these things take time.
Plan a reward for yourself after your first day
Sometimes, it takes good-old-fashioned rewards to keep us going. Ask a friend to meet you for dinner after your first day or treat yourself with a takeaway and a comfort TV-show to wind down in the evening. Having something familiar to look forward to (or a friend to vent to), after your first day can be a good way to get through the unfamiliarity of it all.
Remember: you’re not expected to know everything
This is a really important one. Onboarding exists for a reason, and you’ll have a good month or so when you can rely on your “newness” as an excuse. This is not to say that you shouldn’t throw yourself into figuring everything out, but don’t let the fear of messing up overwhelm you. You will mess up. Learn from your mistakes and pick yourself up.
This is another very important one. Many people feel that asking questions is a sign of weakness or ignorance. However, asking questions is quite the opposite. It shows that you are tuned in, motivated and eager to excel in your new role. People often simply forget what they should be teaching new employees, so often it’s up to you to ask what you need.
Save up your questions and pull your manager for a chat at some point over the first few days, so you can get the answers you need in one sitting, without constantly badgering them. It will show them how organised you are and give you much more clarity.
Befriend your new colleagues
Don’t let making new friends become a whole new anxiety in-itself but remember that making a few acquaintances during your first week can be useful. They’ll likely have tips for you (and most people love sharing advice!) or can direct you to the right individuals or departments when needed. They might also make things more fun! If you struggle networking with others, check out our Networking Tips for Introverts guide 😊
Practice skills you’ll need for the role
If you’re nervous about proving yourself, a good way to prepare is to practice skills you know you’ll need. Take some online tutorials, or re-familiarize yourself with a programme you’ll be using. That way, you’ll know when starting that nothing will trip you up.
Get some perspective
The final tip is to get some perspective! Remember that in a year’s time, you’ll be an old-hand at the company, watching the nervous new recruits come trundling in. Are you going to be judging an intern or junior programmer for not knowing how to double the company’s profits in their first month? Or launch an entirely new website from scratch? Unlikely. So don’t feel that you should know either.
Keep your head down, listen to feedback and accept that mistakes and confusion are simply part of life. Someday you’ll be looking back on this moment as a distant memory! You’ve got this 👊