Starting a new job is always exciting. You finally get the call that you got your dream job and you’re walking on clouds. Holy crap! This is it! This is when everything starts falling into place. Your life is coming together, and the door is opening for endless possibilities.
Then the first day at your new job arrives, and you’re scared to death. Why the hell did you want to get a new job? This is not exciting anymore… it’s freaking scary. With palms sweating and heart racing, you’re just sure you’re gonna mess something up. First days of everything are the hardest. First day of high school, first day of college, and now first day at your new job. You know you can get through it, but the unknown is also terrifying.
It’s totally natural to get scared when you’re starting something new. That’s partly what makes it so exciting! And once you get your feet wet, it ends up not so bad. Because fortunately, we adapt to change quickly.
Whenever I start a new job, I always remind myself that it’s just temporary. This fear of trying something new will go away in a few days, and then I’ll wonder why I was so scared of it in the first place. The unknown can be crippling, but it’s usually never as bad as we make it out to be. Telling myself this usually helps, but it doesn’t always prevent me from totally messing something up. And if you do get scared on your first day, just think about that one time I showed up twenty minutes late to my first job after trying to take a shortcut and spilled a little bit of coffee on my pants…. very professional.The unknown can be crippling, but it's usually never as bad as we make it out to be. Click To Tweet
So just keep in mind that you will get over that initial first day hump. Even if it’s scary, it’s just another day that will pass.
How to prepare for your first day at a new job
I’ve found that being prepared helps in general. Whether that’s getting up to talk in front of a large group of people or going out on a first date. During those moments, you probably stand in front of the mirror and practice what you’re going to say. I say do the same for a new job! Gather as much information as you can during the interview process. That way you can pretty much know what to expect on that first day. At the same time, avoid preparing too much. You don’t want to psyche yourself out.
The weekend before you start, you can spend twenties minutes preparing what you might have to talk about. Like answering questions about what job you worked at before, where you went to school, all that small talk jazz. And then… let it go. Staying prepared helps your confidence. But, there are things you can’t prepare for cause you don’t know what the future holds… if only!
This is where that saying comes in “Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t”.
Take that much needed break
As an introvert, I need time to myself to recharge. Devoting 40 hours of my time a week to a job drains my energy. Really, talking to someone for twenty minutes is enough for my WHOLE week. Yep, I’m that weirdo who prefers playing Zelda over talking to anyone. So, when I start a new job, I typically try to take a few extra days off in between to ease the transition. Starting a new job is super exciting, but it’s also stressful. And it takes a toll on your body, like being too nervous to sleep or eat the day before.
If you’re going from one job to the next with only a two-day weekend in between, it might not be enough time to fully prepare. Not everyone can take a week break in between jobs (because bills), but even if you can give your two weeks’ notice to end on a Wednesday or Thursday before starting that next Monday can help.
Our jobs take up over half of our time, which is difficult when you need time to buy new clothes, find new office notebooks and to just mentally prepare for a new work environment. That’s why I think taking an extra few days (or weeks if you can!) to cleanse yourself of your old job and start fresh with a new one can help out a lot. You’ll feel more confident to knock out that first day, and if you have a long enough break, you’ll be eager to start working again.
Find your rockstar outfit
If I end up wearing something that is uncomfortable at work, I can’t. Stop. Focusing on it. Which means I am not listening to anyone around me… not the best way to make a good first impression. If I had the option, I’d wear sweatpants and my favorite sweatshirt at all times during the day. But since you have to be somewhat professional looking at work, the right outfit is super important. Wear something that you don’t have to worry about, that fits well. What I mean by that is a shirt that doesn’t ride up when you sit down or isn’t too low-cut. And pants or jeans that fit just right and don’t suffocate your stomach when you sit down. A perfect outfit will make you feel extra confident walking into your first day at work.
Some things to consider when choosing your outfit:
- Bring a sweater. Office temperatures are so wishy washy. One day it’s too hot, the next it’s too cold. Unless that’s just me going through hot flashes, in which case I need to see a doctor. Bring a sweater you don’t mind leaving at work and put it on your chair. If you’re super sensitive to temperatures like me, a sweater is an easy solution.
- Don’t wear white. Be careful choosing an all-white shirt. From personal experience, any time I’ve ever worn a white shirt to work, I drop something on it. And it’s 10x more difficult to try to remove a stain from a white shirt than it is a dark shirt! Who woulda thought?
- Wear comfy pants. I have a very sensitive stomach and when I choose to wear skinny jeans that cut off my circulation, my stomach pays for it and starts yelling loud Shamu sounds (let’s be real, this happens even when I’m wearing sweats, too. Damn you stomach.) I love the stretchy skinny jeans that come in different colors. I usually get mine at Ross for like $12. They are professional looking but still flattering and super comfy, especially if you sit at a desk all day.
Get a gold star. Arrive early
Stressing about time on your first day is the last thing you want to worry about. Since you are most likely going to be pretty stressed already, make sure you have enough time to get to work, deal with parking, figure out who you should talk to, etc.
When you had your interview, it was most likely during the day in between rush hour. So it might have only taken twenty minutes to get there without traffic, but if you work at rush hour times you’ll want to plan ahead. You can never go wrong with being early, so give yourself an extra twenty minutes or so. Don’t be like me.
Write that down
You’ll get a lot of information on the first day. Meeting new people and remembering their names, plus learning all the new rules. Keeping a notebook handy will help you remember certain things. Again, the first day might be a little nerve-wracking, which makes it hard to fully focus on what’s going on. It’s happened to me before when I’m told what days of the month I get my paycheck, and I completely forget because I’m too nervous to remember anything.
With this in mind, if you don’t remember everything on your first day don’t sweat it. I’ve been at jobs before where I never learned certain people’s names, and I was there for a year— and I survived.
Where’s the bathroom?
Ask questions. It doesn’t matter how small or big your questions are. Where’s the bathroom? When is my break? What time do I get off? Think of any question you have, and make sure to ask the right person. That’s usually the one who is helping you throughout the day.
Asking the right questions also shows that you are genuinely interested in your job, and you care to make a good impression. Even if you are super quiet on your first day, you can write down a few questions in advance to ask.
Prepare for lunch… with your co-workers
This is a typical friendly gesture of your new co-workers. They want to make you feel welcome and get to know you more. If you’re anything like me, going out to lunch with a group of strangers is… something I’d never voluntarily do. If you’re prepared, you can power through it. You can write down a list of questions you want to ask, and pretend that you’re comfortable in situations like those, even if you’re not. The truth is, it’s awkward for everyone, even the employees who have been there for years. So just pretend you’re a confident badass, and no one will be able to tell the difference!
Just like I said earlier, starting anything new is tough. But, you have a reason for starting a new job and the cool part is that you do have a new job to look forward to! With these things in mind, you’ll be able to fully prepare for your first day and be well on your way to taking the next step in your career. Which, I’ll admit is a great feeling.
What are some ways you prepare for your first day at a new job?