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First Day at New Job Nerves: Steps and Tips

First Day at New Job Nerves: Steps and Tips

April 30, 2023

Starting a new job can be nerve wracking. It’s common to feel a flutter in your stomach and feel your palms getting sweaty when you walk into a new situation. But if it’s getting in the way of your job performance, or making you reluctant to move roles, you know it’s time to take action.

In this guide, we’ll look at some of the common signs your nerves are getting in the way of your job performance and how you can keep them in check when you start a new job. 

This guidance is perfect for anyone with mild anxiety about starting a new role, but if you have more serious social anxiety, you might be best speaking to a professional about your experiences.

First Day at New Job Nerves: Steps and Tips CMD Recruitment

What do first day nerves look like?

If you get nervous on your first day at a new job, it might make you clumsy, forgetful and less on the ball than usual. You might experience physical and mental symptoms, including:

  • An increase in sweat, including sweaty palms
  • An elevated heart rate
  • Heavier breathing
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating

The first thing to remember is that a little bit of anxiety around your first day of work is completely normal. Everyone feels nervous on their first day, some people are just better at hiding it.

Once you feel more relaxed in your role, you should find these symptoms subside and you can go about your day without worry. Until that day arrives, here are some tips for helping to ease the first day of work nerves.

First Day at New Job Nerves: Steps and Tips CMD Recruitment

Plan your day

When you know what to expect, you can feel more at ease about what lies ahead. Planning your day as much as possible will help you to feel more relaxed. Sometimes, you don’t know what to expect, so you can only plan so far ahead. 

In this case, plan your journey to work and give yourself plenty of time so you know you won’t be late. Being late on your first day could trigger you to become more nervous, which will have a knock on impact. 

You should also decide things like if you will take your lunch with you or purchase something while you are there. Many companies will arrange for new hires to eat lunch with existing employees on their first day, so you don’t have to feel awkward. 

However, make sure you take a small snack with you so you don’t suffer from low blood sugar if lunch is a little later than expected.

First Day at New Job Nerves: Steps and Tips CMD Recruitment

Pick your outfit in advance

There is nothing worse than panicking on the morning of your first day in a new role about what to wear. Pick your outfit the night before, make sure it fits, and make sure you have a second choice backup for emergencies. 

When you know exactly what you’ll be wearing, you can reduce the decision making in the morning and this should ease your stress.

Arrive early and gather your thoughts

By arriving at your new place of work early, you can take a moment to sit down and relax. If you are rushing into the office, you might arrive sweating and dishevelled and this will increase your anxiety. 

Take a moment to visit the bathroom, check your appearance and give yourself a little pep talk. You could also grab a coffee or a hot drink if this helps you to feel more relaxed. Just be wary about drinking too much caffeine, as this will amplify any anxious feelings.

First Day at New Job Nerves: Steps and Tips CMD Recruitment

Set your expectations

The first day in a new job is a learning experience. Be prepared to take notes, learn procedures, sign documents and review policies. You are unlikely to be thrown in at the deep end, and they’ll expect you to take a little bit of time to get to know their systems and the rest of the team. 

Take each moment as it comes and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect on your first day. We all want to impress on our first day, but remember that the expectations from your supervisors will be much lower than the expectations you have for yourself.

Ask questions

There are no stupid questions when it comes to learning a new role. It can feel like you are annoying people when you ask questions about how things work, but everyone knows what it feels like to be in a new role.

Employers will be far happier that you are efficiently asking questions rather than struggling to get things done by yourself. While you should employ some common sense to problem solving, don’t struggle with an issue for too long.

Asking questions is also a great way to get to know other members of the team. It will show that you value their contribution and that you’re willing to learn from their experience.

First Day at New Job Nerves: Steps and Tips CMD Recruitment

Keep it in perspective

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the stress of a situation and blow things out of proportion. Remember that it’s just the first day of a new job. We’ve all been there, and rarely does anything go so wrong that anyone remembers it after a week.

If you find your anxiety is getting overwhelming, take a moment to yourself and try breathing exercises to calm down. 

Plan something nice for the evening

If you are really dreading your first day in a new job, try having something planned for the end of the day. This could be meeting up with a friend or just relaxing with your favourite takeaway. A work day is only around 8 hours long, so if you know you have something fun planned for the end of the day, you’ll be able to remain optimistic and avoid letting your anxiety bring down your mood.

First Day at New Job Nerves: Steps and Tips CMD Recruitment

Try to remain positive

It’s all too easy to allow the negative feelings to overwhelm you when you are feeling anxious. Try to remain positive throughout the day as this will project a far better image to your new employer and colleagues.

The fear of giving a bad first impression is often what drives our anxiety, but unfortunately it’s also anxiety that causes the bad first impression. Try to break the cycle by projecting an image of confidence, even if you don’t feel it. This is one situation where “fake it till you make it” is all too relevant.

Closing thoughts

If you’re feeling nervous about starting a new job, try to keep this in perspective so that it doesn’t ruin your first day. By preparing for your first day and being realistic about what is expected, you can take control of your nerves and make life easier.

Try to remain positive throughout the day, as this will give a much better first impression. Be friendly, open and engaged and make sure you ask plenty of questions so you can learn more about the job and your new colleagues. 

It won’t be long before you are feeling more relaxed in your role and will be the established team member welcoming a nervous new starter to the company. Remember that your nervous feeling won’t last forever, you just need to get through the first couple of days.

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