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4 ways to get over the new-job jitters

More people start jobs in January than at any other time of the year. If you’re among them, here are tips to sail through your first few weeks.

4 ways to get over the new-job jitters
[Photo: LightFieldStudios/iStock]

For many professionals, finding and starting a new job at the beginning of a new year is at the top of their to-do list. So perhaps it’s not surprising that more professionals start new jobs in January than at any other time of the year, according to a recent LinkedIn analysis of its members who started new positions from 2014 to 2018.

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If you’re in the crop of new hires starting out in “new job January” and are feeling those new job jitters, you’re not alone. In fact, 80% of professionals are nervous before they start a new job, with these feelings kicking in right before the first day for most and lasting through the first couple of months for others, according to new LinkedIn data.

Based on input from thousands of professionals, we learned that new-job jitters boil down to three main things:

  • They won’t like their new job (according to 42% of those surveyed)
  • That their colleagues or boss won’t like them (32%)
  • They won’t master the learning curve and know how to do the job they were hired to do fast enough (55%)

So, how can you overcome nerves on those first few days (or let’s be real, first few months), and nail it at the outset to make your new job a long-term success?

Make a good first impression

Most managers form an opinion of a new hire within their first two weeks on the job. And being capable of doing the work is only one piece of the puzzle. Rather than telling colleagues how things were done in your last job, ask lots of questions that show you’re eager to learn how things are done in your new job. Show respect for and follow your manager’s and coworkers’ advice, even on little things. Check out how your colleagues tackle workplace culture and politics, to get a vibe from the environment.

Build your professional community from day one

Investing time in workplace relationships will not only help you get to know the culture better and make your day-to-day work more enjoyable but can also open doors to new opportunities. One of the simplest ways to start building these relationships is to make a point of learning people’s names on that first-day tour. Every time you meet someone new, try to use their name in conversation. And when you’re in the halls or lunchroom and bump into a colleague who sat across from you in the morning meeting, strike up a conversation. Better yet, ask them work questions or for advice.

Understand your manager’s expectations

Next, you’ll want to know exactly how your success will be measured. Make time early on to meet with your new manager to ask what’s expected of you, and how and where you can find the support you need to learn your new job. Ask how your performance will be measured: Are there benchmarks you can work towards? Having a clear understanding of what defines your success will keep you focused on the right goals and fully aware of how you’re performing at all times.

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Keep your skills up to date

Your coworkers and managers alike are looking for you to have the skills needed to do the work, and we’re not just talking about hard skills. Are you someone who collaborates well with others? Can you read a room? Are you effective at persuasion? These soft skills are actually the most in-demand by employers in 2020, according to a new report from LinkedIn. So take inventory of your skills and fill in the gaps with online learning courses. And as you become more familiar with your new role, colleagues, and workplace culture, keep reevaluating where you are and how you can improve.

If you’re starting a new job this January, take the time to feel out expectations, build relationships, and learn as much as you can about the workplace culture to ease into your new role. Give yourself some time to get used to the new gig, and remember that understanding and overcoming new-job jitters will help set yourself up for success in the crucial first months of a new job.


Blair Decembrele is director of global integrated marketing communications and career expert at LinkedIn.

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