Job Application sent ☑️
Braved the Interview ☑️
Job offered ☑️
Job accepted ☑️
Then what? Well this is when the real hard work starts! You are feeling over the moon to have been offered that amazing job that you were desperate to get but then it’s crunch time – you’ve got other things to worry about, like what to wear, what’s it going to be like, how on Earth will I learn how to do a new job? What will the people be like?
You get my drift?
I was going to call this post ‘How not to feel overwhelmed when starting a new job,’ but I think it’s about more than that. Do you know what? I was going to write this as a kind of advice article but I think it’s best if I also relate it to my experience so I can write from my point of view and what I found, and helping you to learn from that, rather than trying to sound like an expert – which I’m not!
So, if you are sitting comfortably, I’ll begin. So the first day of your job is going to be filled with mixed emotions. And that’s putting it mildly. I’d say a combination of feeling excited yet nervous, happy yet a little bit shy. Anxiety levels will be high and you may even compare it to being Daniel in the lion’s den.
One thing’s for certain – you are going to be the new kid on the block amongst a group of people who might have known each other for years and years. Friendships are going to be cemented and actually probably full on concreted, work relationships are going to be pretty stable and more than likely, full of mutual respect. And then a new person starts. The thing is, you want to be friendly but you need to reach a bit of a compromise and certainly not try and take over the company and be the workplace clown. That won’t win you any favours at all. I’m fairly quiet and shy until you get to know me. I’m quite self conscious and I do care what other people think about me so I’ve tried to be friendly, smiling and saying hello to people but not in anyone’s face or trying to control any conversations, if that makes sense.
With regard to the working day, your brain is going to be completely inundated with new information, new processes, new routines, new people and a new environment. Phew that is such a lot of new stuff to be bombarded with all in one go. And it is all in one go! There is a lot to learn and a lot of pressure to perform and also to conform and to fit in. Gosh no wonder I had an almost constant headache for the first week or so. It was all new to me and completely alien to what I was used to. If you asked me to teach a class of thirty eleven year olds the difference between subordinating and coordinating conjunctions or explain in detail the logistics of long division or host a debate about whether it would be best to be a Spartan or Athenian in Ancient Greece – no problem…I’d been doing this aspect of my job for about six years. Ask me to jointly run lunch times, being ultimately responsible for what goes on and making sure that all staff are where they should be at the correct time, no worries. Ask me to jointly run an after school club to safeguard and engage up to eighty four, five and six year olds, absolutely fine. But if I were to be asked to do a fairly simple job like cashing up a till – I would have no clue whatsoever. I wouldn’t have even known how to open a till, let alone print off any till readings or card machine printouts. Can you see how different my days are going to be? I was completely confident in my old job. It was familiar and easy, well actually no it wasn’t easy and it certainly had its challenges, but it was familiar and I knew the basic routine. But the question is, is having familiarity and ease a good thing in the scale of things? Is it going to challenge or stretch my mind? The answer to these questions is no, not really. It’s good to have a change and a challenge and to learn new things.
The joy of learning new things also brings with it the feeling of clumsiness, incompetence and the awful feeling that you are doing everything at a snail’s pace, when in your head you desperately want to be doing everything at the same speed as everyone else, even those who might have been in a similar job for five years. The harsh reality of it is that you need to take it slowly. Absorb all that information and accept any help that is given to you. The people who work for the company already, know what they are doing. Listen to them, take tips from them. It is in their interest to help you as in the long run you will then be able to do the job independently, without constantly asking questions.
A notepad – yay we all love a good notepad!! is your friend here. I have an A5 project book which is almost full. I also bought some of those little sticky pad arrows to divide it further and add more sections. I have found it essential to write things down and it is really useful when you have a lot to remember. For me it is sometimes helpful to write things down as I can visualise me writing it down and it helps me remember some things easier too.
Asking questions at the beginning does feel horrible, I’ll admit. It made me feel vulnerable and ‘needy’ to have to keep asking questions, but when I started I had no idea how systems worked, I knew nothing about the day to day routine or how the company kind of ‘flowed’ as a whole, if that makes sense. So I had to ask questions. Obviously I didn’t ask every single little thing or I really would have been portrayed as needy, but there are some things you just don’t know if you don’t ask.
You are representing the company you work for to members of the public so it is important to know how things are run and to know unsaid rules as well…
Learn through your mistakes. Once you are set free on your own, you aren’t going to immediately do everything absolutely flawlessly. You may misjudge when you have pressure to get things done by a certain time, but you don’t know until you try and do things yourself how you are going to get on. I have learnt a few things because I judged something incorrectly but I have learned through my mistakes.
I always think of the word mistake as a mis-take, it’s a try and might not go quite according to plan, but you get another chance and next time you will know what not to do and it will be better. Better still, practice makes perfect so I know that things that are new to me now are going to feel unfamiliar at the beginning but after a few months will become second nature. When I get to this point, I will wonder what I was so worried about in the first place!
A personal catch up – I’ve been in my new job two months now so if you want a personal opinion of how that feels, here goes…I am really really enjoying myself, I feel happy inside if you know what I mean by that, I finally feel much more settled, I understand how things work more and why I am doing some of the processes I am doing – this makes it much easier for me to do my job because I understand things now, whereas when I first started I really really didn’t.
I feel confident – and actually enjoy the responsibility- of being on my own in the office. I feel confident enough now, if I am asked to write a blog post for the company website, not to feel the need to run it by someone else first. I am able to deal with a whole page of emails, mainly without referring them to anyone else and then delete or file as necessary. I wish I could apply this to my own emails (😫Ive got about 14,000 emails that I need to read or delete at home and don’t know where to start. Sadly I’m not exaggerating.) Yesterday I cashed up eleven tills, analysed the figures and balanced the books and everything worked out all ok 😀, I have learned to use Canva really well now, Hootsuite, excel, an invoicing system, online ticketing system and loads loads more!
So I feel that I should be proud of myself for what I can do and not beat myself up over the things that I’m not confident with yet, because I CAN do it! And you can too!