Here’s How to Tame Those New Job Jitters

The first three months of the year are when more people start new jobs than any other time. That’s when new budgets kick in for most companies and when workers most feel the urge to change jobs.

If history is any guide, then about 16 million people will start a new job by the end of March. Most of them will experience the new job jitters, worrying if they made the right decision, anxious about making a good impression and wondering what it will be like leaving the familiar behind to venture into the unknown.

If you’re one of them, take comfort in knowing that what you’re feeling is common. LinkedIn recently noted that 80% of professionals admit to being nervous before starting a new job. (That other 20%? We suspect they just didn’t admit it.) Feeling that way is natural and no amount of advice is going to change that. Preparation and taking small steps will tamp down the jitters and help you fit in more quickly.

LinkedIn advises newcomers to ask questions instead of jumping in with ideas. You may indeed know a better process, but before you go suggesting it, observe. There may be good reasons why something is being done the way it is, so better to find that out and avoid being shot down.

Fast Company article puts it this way, “Show respect for and follow your manager’s and coworkers’ advice, even on little things. Check out how your colleagues tackle workplace culture and politics, to get a vibe from the environment.”

However, if you know how to unjam the copier, by all means volunteer. That will make you an instant new friend.

Fast Company also recommends you begin building relationships as soon as you walk in the door. The busier the office, the more people you’ll meet those first few days, which makes remembering who’s who difficult. So adopt that time-honored networking technique by using their name immediately — “Pleased to meet you, Debra” not just “Pleased to meet you.” If you can associate the name with a personal characteristic, it will aid your recall.

Later, make an effort to strike up a conversation with your new colleagues. Asking questions about office procedures is an obvious and innocuous way to start one. If you’re invited to lunch, go.

Another tip is to meet with your new boss as soon as possible for a one-on-one. You want to find out what’s expected of you, where you can go for help and support, and how you’ll be measured. You may have asked some of these questions during the interview. But that was then. Now you’ll need to get more specific and detailed.

There’s no question starting a new job is stressful: 42% of us worry we won’t like; 32% worry our new boss or co-workers won’t like us; and, 55% of us worry we won’t be good enough fast enough. But taking small steps at first, asking questions, rather than showing what you know, and letting your manager know you care about doing the job they expect will earn you respect and support and get you started off on the right foot.

Image by Werner Heiber

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