Overcome New Job Anxiety: 15 Tips for Success
Nervous about starting a new job? If starting a new job is stressing you out, remember these tips and best practices to lessen anxiety so that you can get excited about this new experience.
Table of contents
- Remember that you’re not an imposter
- It’s expected that you’ll pick up new skills as you go
- Take lots of notes during your first few weeks
- Stay organized
- Try to not procrastinate
- Schedule time to meet your new coworkers
- Schedule 1:1 meetings with your manager / direct reports
- Do a lot of listening
- Be curious
- Stay calm
- Have a positive attitude
- Make a good first impression
- Picture how comfortable you felt at your last job after 5-6 months
- Meet some colleagues over video or in person
- Offer to help and get involved
Having switched jobs a few times within the last five years, Dan and I have a lot of experience starting new jobs. It’s always a mix of “terrifying” and “incredibly rewarding.”
We always leave our previous employers on good terms and leave on high notes. We’ve always left jobs feeling like we’ve accomplished a lot, having a lot of wisdom and institutional knowledge.
Starting a new job at a brand new company is terrifying because you don’t know anyone, you don’t know how the company operates, you don’t know anyone’s name and you don’t know what to expect.
With this article, we’re going to give you a few tips and tricks that we have used when starting new jobs.
Dan is mostly an introvert, or maybe an introverted extrovert. He mostly likes keeping to himself, but also enjoys working in small group settings. He typically takes a few weeks or months to warm up to people and start to feel like himself.
I am an extrovert, and have no problem making the first move to introduce myself to new colleagues; however, I get nervous when I feel like I don’t have the knowledge needed to succeed.
Because Dan and I are both so different professionally, we’ll try to not make any assumptions about why you feel nervous about starting a new job. When it makes sense, we’ll give some different perspectives about how to approach certain situations.
We hope some of this will help you on your journey. And also, congrats on starting your new job!
If you haven’t found that new job yet, check out our guide to how to find a new remote job this year.
Remember that you’re not an imposter
You made it through the interview process when you were against all the other candidates. You were the best candidate, and you were hired for your personality, experience and skills.
It’s normal to feel Imposter Syndrome, which is the feeling of being an intrusive outsider in a setting where everyone else is inclusive. With these feelings, you may feel inadequate or undeserving of the job (or success) that you’ve recently landed.
Remember: you worked for it! Anyone with a job offer in hand likely did a lot of work to get to that point, whether it was networking, being an all-star interviewee, doing interview presentations, and writing great thank-you notes along the way.
You’re not an imposter: you’re going to be a crucial part of this organization in just a few months when you learn the ropes and feel settled in the day-to-day.
It’s expected that you’ll pick up new skills as you go
Don’t expect to be able to hit the ground running. This simply is not feasible!
Most companies expect you to have a week or two (sometimes longer) of onboarding, to get caught up with policies, meet new coworkers and set up your company laptop or office workspace.
In my last job, I came from outside the industry, so to speak. I had to learn completely new standards for working with internal and external parties, how the business worked, names of important players and competitors and so much more. This took a lot of time, and did not happen overnight. Luckily, my colleagues were patient with me and after a few months, considered me an expert at the new things I had learned.
Take lots of notes during your first few weeks
There is usually a lot going on during your first few weeks of work at a new job. A good way to stay organized is to keep track of questions you have, and add things you think about and personal reflections.
Once you get a handle on your day-to-day tasks and duties, you can continue your note-taking system, or choose to be a little looser with it!
I recently found the stack of notes from my first few days and weeks on the job when I started my most recent role. It was funny how I was scribbling things down for myself, and great to see how much had changed, both in product and process.
If you’re a visual learner, or someone who feels the importance of writing things down to remember them, then by all means: take lots of notes about people, meetings, systems and responsibilities. This type of thing will always be beneficial in a professional environment.
Aside from notes once you start your job, you may have a lot of things that you need to do before you actually get started.
Wrapping up your old job may be on your list. You can track all of the remaining tasks, so you feel good about leaving on a high note.
Before you actually start your new job, read through all of the documents that the new HR team or your new boss has sent you. If you need to set up your new laptop, make sure to get that done. If you need to create any accounts or 2FA, do it right away!
Track all of the small tasks (there is no task too small!) in some TODO tracking app (see “Todoist” at our list of favorite online apps) or even with a pen and paper, to make sure that you don’t forget any details.
In leaving my old role, I was responsible for creating transition documents, which entailed a current description of my role and all my responsibilities, along with what I’d expect out of a new hire to replace me. Then, I also went above and beyond to develop a guidebook to the parties that my role dealt with, and lastly, a project hand-off sheet that my colleagues could reference after my last day.
In starting my new job, I was sent some early emails about setting up my new email account, and when to expect my work laptop coming by mail. Then, I was sent an onboarding document and a few meeting invites. It was all super organized and made me feel confident.
Try to not procrastinate
We all have some level of procrastination, and that usually leads to additional stress and a feeling of uncertainty. Dan and I definitely have our fair share of procrastination, whether it’s at our full-time jobs, or working on this website.
With all procrastination, it’s much better to get something done so it’s out of the way, and you’re moving forward.
While you can work forever on fixing a bad procrastination habit, now is the time to sprint to the finish line and make sure you’re accomplishing all of your tasks. Keeping a task list is a great way to stay on track. We use Notion for this, or the task list in Gmail.
Another hack we use for avoiding procrastination is setting time blocks on our personal Google Calendars. For example, if I have some freelance work to do, I will create an hour-long block for myself so that I make a deadline before midnight. This helps keep all my workloads in check, and is one of my best productivity tricks, no matter what job I am at.
Schedule time to meet your new coworkers
Some Slack workspaces have the Donut app. Give that a shot, and meet people at your company!
Donut creates randomized introductions and syncs calendars so that you can set up an in-person or virtual (for remote-first organizations) time to chat. Then, you can stay in touch, even if you work remotely. At my last company, I introduced Donut to everyone and it became a big hit.
Bigger organizations may have orientations led in groups that let you connect with newcomers who started around the same time you did.
Meeting people while you are new is a great way to build connections with colleagues early. Several jobs ago, I remained closest with colleagues who had started at the company around the same time that I did.
Schedule 1:1 meetings with your manager / direct reports
If it’s not included in your onboarding, schedule time with your manager or direct reports regularly within the first few months. This is especially important if you work in distributed teams and not everyone’s in the same place.
This time can be structured to give quick feedback about how you’re doing and if there’s something that you need to change. Or, it can be totally social, so that you get to know your colleagues on a personal basis before starting the professional nitty-gritty.
We don’t like to recommend unnecessary meetings, so this can also be done asynchronously if that works for you! Remember: that always make sure meetings are productive for both/all parties involved.
Do a lot of listening
Your first few weeks are all about learning. Do as much listening as you can, to understand how work gets done.
Every company has a “vibe,” and your first few days are the perfect opportunity to learn some of those organizational norms. Listen in on meetings, and offer to join meetings passively, to learn more of the popular terminology and to listen to how colleagues and departments discuss things like clients, projects, progress and goals.
Ask questions! When you’re new, there is no better time to ask your coworkers questions about the company and your role. There are no “dumb questions,” because the answers are almost always valuable information that someone would benefit from.
Ask your questions in the beginning, before it’s too late and it seems like you missed something crucial that you neglected to ask about in the early days.
It’s okay to be nervous and anxious when you start a new job. In fact, it would be weird if you weren’t. You know yourself the best.
With the first few days and weeks leading up to your start date, do whatever makes you less stressed.
For me, I like spending time outdoors. Whether it’s a bike ride or a walk, or even just roaming around the block listening to a podcast, these things help me feel at ease. For Dan, he likes to go on a run. It clears his head and usually clears up and stress and anxiety built up by over-thinking situations.
Have a positive attitude
Be conscious about being optimistic and try to have a positive outlook on your new role. In order to start a new job, you had to leave one.
Avoid bringing any of those negative vibes to your new job. This is your opportunity to start fresh and elevate everyone around you with a positive and fresh outlook that you bring!
Are you deciding if you should be leaving your current job? See our list of the warning signs you should know.
Make a good first impression
First impressions are everything. If you consider when there were new people joining your old company after you had started, what were the first things you noticed about them? Was it how they interacted in meetings? Was it how they talked too much and seemed too assertive, or was it how they thoughtfully added to conversations and tried to help solve problems from the get-go?
One of the things to remember in making a good first impression is leaving some of your prior experiences at the door.
Most people don’t really care which company you came from previously, and unless something epic happened there that will propel you into incredible success in your new role, it’s hard for others to empathize or understand where you’re coming from if they lack context. Be a forward-thinker and work toward the future “you,” with the previous “you” in the past.
Picture how comfortable you felt at your last job after 5-6 months
After five to six months at your old job, did you already feel like a veteran? Were you actually already a veteran because so many new people had joined the company since you were hired, and they just assumed you’d been there since the beginning of time?
You can get very comfortable with your colleagues in a timeframe of three to six months, depending on how you all jive with one another.
When starting your new role, it’s challenging to picture in your mind how the user photos in the Zoom meeting will become your work-friends soon, but it’s inevitable!
When you look back six months from now, you’ll remember how fresh-faced you were and how far you have come in terms of fitting in and becoming an integral part of the team.
Meet some colleagues over video or in person
At my former role, even when I was new-ish, I started an informal women’s club (online). Before we transitioned back to the office, we had a few Zoom happy hours where it was just us gals, chatting and bringing our drink of choice!
This was something no one had ever thought of doing before, so it just happened that it was me who had the idea. Everyone was really thankful to start this new tradition!
As for meeting in person, that’s a whole second level! If you work in a completely distributed team in which none of your colleagues even live in the same state or country, then meeting virtually is the only thing you can do.
But, if you find that a whole slew of your coworkers live in the same metro area, suggest an in-person meetup! Those are always great ways for you to get comfortable with everyone, especially when being the new person on the job.
Offer to help and get involved
As a new person at a new job when you’re just trying to feel settled and included, offer to help plan something, whether an office party or an online event.
The help will always be welcomed, and in the meantime, you’ll be able to make connection with coworkers outside your department.
Getting involved doesn’t even necessarily have to be for any formal type of event: maybe it could be a competition of sorts (try Wordle?) in your company’s Slack or Microsoft Teams workspace, or starting a new organizational employee resource group for people with something in common.
Last updated on November 24th, 2022
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