The Anxious Person's Guide

The Anxious Person’s Guide to Starting a New Job

I originally wrote this post in 2019, a year after I started my job in digital marketing. As I review this post in 2021, I’ve since left that particular job, and have recently started a new one. So, I thought it would be a good time to renew and refresh this post – my anxiety was not in a good place when I started my new job in July 2021, so these tips felt even more relevant than they did before.

We all know that it’s natural to be nervous about starting a new job, however it can be especially scary when you already suffer with anxiety. So, what can you do to make the whole process a little easier? Here’s a few things that I’ve picked up, not just from starting my current job, but over the years as well.

An Anxious Person's Guide to Starting a New Job

1: Get Organised

The night before my first day, I meticulously planned the small details. I planned what outfit I was going to wear, I had the relevant documents I needed (P45 and such), and I worked out what time I needed to get there. You can even go further with this, look at where to park, the route you’re going to take to get there and so forth. It’s just a small selection of things, but sometimes having control over the smaller stuff really helps to make you feel that little bit calmer.

2: Be Honest

It’s a cliché, but if you’re nervous – tell someone. You don’t have to go into detail about any mental health issues* but if you’re feeling particularly anxious, there’s no harm in mentioning it. Contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t make you look weak, it makes you human. Whoever greets you on your first day will more than likely ask how you are, so just be honest with them and tell them if you’re nervous. It’s common to be nervous about starting a new job, so chances are they’ll be prepared to help ease your nerves.

*Remember, when it comes to mental health issues, whether or not you disclose them to your employer at any point is completely up to you and whether you feel comfortable to do so.

3: Join in the Conversation

I’ll be honest, this is the thing I struggled with the most. For someone as socially awkward as myself, joining in the conversation can be scary AF. Chances are there’ll be some office banter you can’t really join in with just yet, or you might simply just be too scared to get a word in. Either way, while it’s easier said than done, the best thing you can do is take the leap and join in. If the conversation steers to a topic you can get involved with, do it! If it’s not something you’re clued up on, If you’ve only just met these people, it’s the perfect chance for a fresh start. So whether it’s a discussion about who’s your favourite on Strictly or what your plans for the weekend are, chip in and you’ll notice that each time gets a little less scary. 

4: Offer to Make the Tea Round

We’re British – let’s be honest, we all like someone that little bit more if they offer to make us a brew, right? Offering to make a cuppa early on will instantly score you some points – provided that you get it right of course! Try and find out what the tea etiquette is first though – you don’t want to offer to make a round if the general rule is that everyone makes their own, otherwise you might end up shooting yourself in the foot!

5: Don’t Immediately Slag Off Your Old Job

I’ve been very guilty of this one. While you might be relieved that you’ve left a shitty job to get to this nice new one, it doesn’t particularly look great if you go around ripping apart every aspect of it on your first day. Bear in mind that you still want to make a good impression, and slagging off your old boss or your old colleagues in front of your new ones will make you seem bitchy. Yes, I know I said be yourself, but there’s a line.

6: Ask for Help if You Need It

When it comes to starting a new job, I’m sure we’ve all done that thing where we tell the boss how well we’re getting on, while actually, we’re screaming internally. Hell, that’s a normal day at the office for me. However, on your first day, chances are they’ll be prepared for you to ask questions, so take advantage of that and ask if you’re not sure on something. While many of us have probably been on the receiving end of the newbie asking us endless questions (and yes, it’s annoying, but I generally have zero patience anyway), we all have to start somewhere. Not only that, but surely it’s better to ask a few more questions than to majorly bugger something up on your first day?

7: Remember to Say Thank You

Okay so basic manners are a given in life generally, but it’s important when starting a new job to show your appreciation if someone helps you out. People will be more likely to help you in the future and more likely to warm to you as a person if you show that you’re grateful for their help! If you work in a busy environment, it can be tricky – this was especially the case in my last retail job. Even so, if one of us was called away before I had a chance to thank them for their help, I’d make sure I’d find them later on and just say a quick thank you. It’s a small thing, but as someone who’s also been on the receiving end of that thank you too, it really makes a difference.

8: Don’t Isolate Yourself During Breaks

Lunchtimes and break times are a great way to get to know your colleagues, so within those first couple of days it’s a good idea to make the most of them. By that I mean, don’t go out and eat your lunch somewhere else just because you don’t know anyone. Bring some food with you and sit with your new colleagues. You’ll find it easier to get to know people here than you would in work time, especially if you work in a busy retail environment, so it’s a good chance to have a proper chat. A side note though, don’t force it – if you can see a particular person wants to keep to themselves or just wants a few minutes’ peace, it’s probably not a good idea to chat to them about how long they’ve worked here, what they’re doing at the weekend etc.

9: Don’t Immediately Ask About Holiday/Perks

Again, it doesn’t look good when you ask on your first day “so, what’s the discount here?” or “who do I speak to about booking time off?” Yes, it’s the stuff you’ll need to know about, but there’s a time and a place. Doing it on your first day will just imply you’re only in it for the perks. If you’re anything like me, how to book holiday is firmly etched in my brain for the whole of that first day, and I’ll be counting down the days until it’s appropriate to ask. As a rule of thumb, get your first week done and dusted first, and then casually bring it up. I find a casual “ooh, while I remember, how do I go about requesting holiday?” usually does the trick. 

What advice did you find helpful when it came to starting a new job? Let me know in the comments!

Featured image by Thought Catalog on Unsplash.

4 thoughts on “The Anxious Person’s Guide to Starting a New Job”

  1. Some great tips here! When I finished university I tried starting a couple of jobs and hated them. I probably would have benefitting from reading your post back then. I isolated myself and never really became one of the team. It’s such a nerve wracking experience! xx

    Liked by 1 person

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