First Day Jitters

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Starting a new job can be an exciting time for both you and your new manager, but can also stir up many emotions. Making a good first impression will help you avoid the need to make a course correction later.Almost everyone who starts a new job, even at the most senior level, experiences the first week jitters.

There are many people to meet, new lunch spots to discover and new water cooler gossipers to avoid. Here are some thoughts about ways to control these jitters.

  1. Look for the Welcome Wagon – You know who these people are. They may not buy you a plant for your desk or fill your office with balloons, but these people befriend all new employees “just because”. They may not be your best friend over time, but during the first week, they’ll show you around as if they owned the place.
  2. Dress the Part – On your first day, dressing one step above the crowd seems appropriate, as first impressions are important. Two steps up will make you appear to be trying too hard to impress the boss, so avoid wearing a 3-piece suit when everyone else is wearing khakis. Arriving with a new portfolio is definitely acceptable regardless.
  3. Find a Lunch Buddy – Asking someone at the same level in the organization (and ideally your same gender) to have lunch on day two or three is a great way to find an ally. Although it was easy in kindergarten, making friends is a bit daunting in the work place as egos and competition are at play. Taking the first step by asking someone to lunch is a great way to network.
  4. Stop at Dunkin Donuts – Do you know anyone who doesn’t appreciate a yummy donut, especially when it’s free? I don’t either. Bringing a box of Munchkins and leaving them on your desk will cause a flurry of people to stop by to “introduce themselves”, although you and I will know why they are really there.
  5. Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions – The saying goes that the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask, especially during your first week when you’re in training. Take lots and lots of notes about the 3 P’s -people, processes, and policies while you are asking questions. No one will expect you to be an expert on your first day. Lay low and don’t try to move mountains until you truly understand the big picture.
  6. Remember Your Paperwork – In many cases, the Human Resources department will have sent you a large stack of forms to fill in and return to them on your first day. Remember to bring them along with your ID and proof of eligibility to work for your employer. Some employers will send you home if you forget your paperwork and that would be an embarrassment difficult to overcome.
  7. Have Patience – If you find the first few days overwhelming, reassure yourself that once you establish a new routine, you’ll feel right at home. If doubts arise as to whether or not you made the right choice, allow yourself five full days of work at your new job before developing any full-fledged opinions. A new job needs to stretch and challenge you in order for your career to grow. Don’t be concerned if you feel awkward or out of sorts for a while like you felt during the first week of school. It’s completely normal. Be kind to yourself and believe that after a few days in your new job you’ll be ready to take on any challenges they can throw at you.

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:  Starting off at a new organization makes you want to make changes quickly to ensure success. However, tread lightly and make every attempt to fit in to the team and blend in with the culture. Many people and organizations find it difficult to accept change despite whether or not it will help them be more successful. The time will come for you to let your opinions be known, and you will sense when that is. Just like searching for a job, have patience and spend the time adapting to your new home. Then rev up your engine and enjoy the ride.

Blog by ‘Absolutely’ Abby Kohut. See more from Abby on her site:

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