First Day Jitters? Here’s How to Calm Them
Deb Ward / MARCH 15 2021

The first day can set the tone for your new work experience. You don’t have to be anxious and lose sleep over it. It’s natural to be a little nervous walking into the unknown, but you don’t have to know everything on day one. Here are some tips to get you started off on the right foot.

  1. First of all, congratulate yourself on getting a new job and the end of the job search! Remind yourself of all the times you’ve been successful and when you’ve successfully met challenging goals. Let your triumphs boost you up for the big day.
  2. Prepare the night before. Layout your clothes (if you have a uniform, make sure it’s clean and pressed), do a dry run on the route to work ahead of time, and get a good night’s sleep. Don’t forget to eat breakfast and leave early enough to account for any traffic you may encounter.
  3. Arrive a bit early, even if you have to sit in your car or at a nearby coffee shop for a while. You don’t want to be late on your first day.
  4. Have some questions ready. You won’t know where everything is or how everything is done. Be sure to ask questions, ask for advice and be friendly.
  5. Be sure to take notes. If you’re in an orientation session, you’ll be taking in a lot of new information. Taking notes will ensure you’ll have something to refer back to if you feel a little lost.
  6. Be friendly. Reach out and introduce yourself. Ask your colleagues where they’re from and what job they do. You want to build positive relationships from the beginning. They’ll appreciate your friendly gesture and interest.
  7. Have lunch in the break room or go out with some of your new co-workers. Don’t hesitate to sit at a community table and engage with them instead of sitting by yourself or in your car. Be open and friendly and ready to be part of the team.
  8. Be positive. There’s no reason to criticize or make comparisons to your old job. Just listen and observe, be open and learn what you need to know.
  9. Do some research on your new boss and colleagues if you can. Find out if your work environment is casual or more formal and how your boss prefers you to communicate.
  10. Make peace with being “the new kid on the block.” Remember, no one expects you to jump right in and know everything. Ask questions, listen and ask thoughtful questions.

New job jitters often boil down to three main things:

  1. You worry you won’t like the new job
  2. You worry your co-workers or your boss won’t like you.
  3. You worry you won’t master the job quickly enough.

So, what can you do?  

  • Understand that most managers form an opinion about a new hire within the first two weeks. Doing the job itself is only one piece of the puzzle. Show you’re eager to learn and be respectful to teammates and your boss.
  • Invest some time in your new work relationships. Learn people’s names as quickly as you can and ask for advice when learning something new. 
  • Tune into the workplace culture and politics and observe how those around you operate in that environment.
  • Understand your manager’s expectations. How will your success be measured and are there specific goals you should reach within a specified period of time?
  • Keep your skills up to date. If you’re worried that you’re weak in one area, take a class or read up on it to boost your confidence.
  • Above all, control your expectations. Remind yourself that starting a new job means learning new things and new ways of working. It’ll take more than one day to master it and to get comfortable with your team.