Starting a new job is stressful. No matter how awesome you are at writing code, writing copy, or swinging a hammer, there’s always a modicum of stress when you’re the new person. We’ve all been there: there’s a lot to take in, new people, new processes, where to park, coming in early, figuring out if you’re making a cultural faux pas for not eating lunch at your desk, down to who’s the talker and who’s the silent type. Every business is its own ecosystem and no matter what it’s going to take time to get everything running smoothly.
Even professional athletes start with new teams every few years, and despite getting windfalls of cash, they still have to navigate all of the little things like where’s the ice machine, as well as the big ones. Going through the interview process isn’t the world’s most fun exercise, but at least it’s on your terms. Starting the job is a whole different animal, instead of collapsing on the couch after an interview, you now have to make it around the office the entire day.
Because we’ve all been there, we’ve compiled our thoughts on how to make it not weird on your first day. But, first things first: don’t get hung up on crazy thoughts, just use our pro tips and you’ll be fine.
You’re not alone
Literally, in the history of the world, everyone has the same experience. Everyone is new on the job at one point or another. The first few days are a balance of personality and professionalism but don’t worry, you’ve got it covered. Even your boss who seemingly has it all together has been the awkward new person before.
Everyone’s first day is crazy, there’s logistical chaos everywhere, and onboarding rarely goes as planned. Plus, there’s always the problem of getting the Wi-Fi to work, or you can’t get into your new email account. And how many times have you wandered around the office looking for the bathroom only to finally suck it up and ask where to go?
Freaking out about what to wear
The first day on a new job is kind of like high school but actually worse. By now, we’re set in our ways and less willing to change it up. Deciding on what to wear to give off a general first impression is essential. While it would be easier to roll in in shorts and flip flops, it’s vital to feign professionalism at least for the first week or two.
There’s a balance of looking professional, but not too trendy, but also approachable, it’s a whole thing. But, at the heart of it, just remember you were hired for your skills, not what brand of shoes you rock.
Be a sponge
You don’t know everything. Always remember the more you see, the less you know. The best thing you can do when starting a new job is to learn as much as possible. While it might seem like overload, it will benefit in the long run. Get a thorough understanding of the company and team before offering input.
Every company and specifically, each team has its jargon, it’s way of thinking, and you’re going to have to learn that. (It took me a few months to figure out what “net-net” meant.) The easiest thing you can do is to ask questions. Don’t feel like anything is a wrong question, either. And whatever you don’t know when someone uses jargon, hit Google for context.
Keep first impression in mind
No one said you have to be Captain Fun, but at least be nice enough for a handshake and eye contact. It’s harder for some to make conversation, but don’t immediately hide away in an office or some far off conference room, make an effort to meet the team. These informal conversations go a long way.
Read the room, look for verbal and nonverbal cues, see who’s talking and who’s closed off, do your part to find the happy medium of informed listening, but also making sure you’re not a fly on the wall. Once you get your bearings, it’s time to impress.
But also think about first impressions, you don’t have to make a big splashy introduction. Everyone wants to come off the best way possible, it’s important to do your best to fit in with company culture, but don’t overcompensate. You’ll make friends soon enough.
Be cool with everyone
This should also go without saying but be cool with everyone. You don’t have to be best buds, but it’s important to show some love to the janitor just the same as the boss. If you’re climbing your way up, you’re going to see those same people on the way down, and it’s never a good look only make time for people with a higher pay grade. Be cool with everyone you meet, the receptionist, the shelf stocker – everyone. You never know when you’re in a bind and one of these folks could help you solve a problem. It pays to make the time for at least a wave or a simple, “how’s it going?”
You’re going to be frustrated and that’s ok
We all want to jump in the game and make an immediate impact. But, it’s going to take a few months to really ingrain yourself within your new team. Just do your best and roll with it. Eventually, all of the stuff that wasn’t covered in onboarding will ultimately get sorted out.
It’s hard to not point to your biggest wins or most recent job, it’s your point of reference. Sure, you’ll miss the familiarity of the old gig, but like a past relationship, it was clearly time to move on. There’s nothing to miss, but maybe the people and the taco spot down the street, but for everything else, there was a reason you left and came here, it’s time to put down the constant references and embrace the now.
Don’t let imposter syndrome get the best of you
You aced the interviews and got the offer. These people picked you over other candidates. For a lot of people, it’s a normal thing to think they got it wrong and you don’t deserve the job, that you’re wildly unqualified, but chill out. There’s a lot of consideration that goes into hiring someone new, and you were the best fit for the company. Embrace it.
You’ve made it, you’re here. You can do this. The first week is always hard, but don’t freak out. Your new co-workers will like you just fine. Just don’t put on Smashmouth’s Greatest Hits on repeat your first day, then it might get a little weird.
If you liked this article, check out some of our others on the Adia blog.