How to: Stop feeling nervous about starting a new job

Regardless of where you are in your career, starting a new job can be a scary ordeal…

You won’t know anyone, you’ll be oblivious to the team dynamic, and even your job role will be a mystery to you at this stage. And, let’s face it, who isn’t scared of the unknown?

To ease your first day anxieties, here are our top tips to help you stop feeling nervous about starting a new job:


Remind yourself what you’ll actually be doing

When you’re caught up in first day nerves, it can be easy to lose sight of why you’re really there.

So, take some time out beforehand to go over the job description for your new role, and remind yourself of your responsibilities. That way you’ll be able to go in with a real sense of purpose, not to mention know what to expect as the weeks progress.

Secondly, think about what made you want the job, and what helped you land it in the first place. If you’re having a sudden urge of insecurity, remember that the employer hired you for a reason. They obviously have faith in your abilities and believe you’ll be a great fit for the role – so you should believe it too.

At the very least, focusing on the day-to-day aspects of the job role instead of the fact that it’s your first day will distract you from the ‘new job fear’.


Don’t expect to know everything

It might be tempting to carry the interview façade through to your first day (even if you’re secretly terrified) – but don’t feel like you have to be excel at absolutely everything straight away.

You’ve already passed the biggest test, as you’ve already got the job. All you need to do now is keep up a good level of confidence, avoid coming across arrogant, and most importantly, display a real willingness to learn.

Your boss expects you to be unsure of things at this stage, so don’t be afraid to ask questions – and try not to panic too much if you make a mistake. Minor errors are all part of the learning process, and your employer will generally be understanding of any mistakes you might make early on.

Just make sure you take accountability for your actions. You’re far better off admitting to anything that goes wrong, and trying to find a resolution than trying to hide it. It could be easier to fix than you think, and trying to brush it under the rug isn’t very tactful – or professional.


Remember that you won’t be new forever

New things are scary – and it’s totally natural to feel anxious about starting a new job. But remember: it will pass.

If your fear is getting out of hand, remember that new things always turn into familiar things. It just takes time. Reassure yourself that you’ve tackled the biggest hurdle, and the even-more-terrifying test (in other words, the recruitment process) is over. If you got through that, you can get through this.

Before you know it, the role will be second nature to you, you’ll know everyone (at least on a first name basis), and you’ll understand your colleagues’ likes and dislikes enough to know what kind of jokes are appropriate and what ones aren’t.

For an additional boost, try and convert your anxiety into excitement. Thinking of the bigger picture will help to ease your stress and settle into your new situation.


Be on your best behaviour

Although it probably goes without saying, the basic rules apply more than ever at this stage.

So, to make sure your nerves aren’t heightened by a stern chat from your boss within your first week on the job – always be on time, work hard, avoid desktop distractions, and be friendly and cooperative with your colleagues.

First impressions really are important, and coming into a new job with a positive attitude and willingness to learn will definitely work in your favour – and help you to pass your probationary period with flying colours.

After all, there’s a time and place for ‘me-time’. The first week isn’t the time to be testing boundaries.


Don’t be too big for your boots

In a pursuit to impress, it can be tempting to make promises you might not be able to keep.

But, even if your intentions are good, always assess your abilities before agreeing to any new tasks or duties. Although you shouldn’t foreground the areas you lack certain skills or experience in, you also shouldn’t put on a front if they come up.

Similarly, if your role involves leading a team, don’t go on a crazed power trip in an attempt to suck up to your superiors. Instead, take time to learn and observe, and wait until your team knows and trusts your work ethic before you start firing difficult orders at them.

Because sometimes gaining respect from those around you can be the most important challenge…


Write it all down

Whether its general instructions, login information, passcodes, or a to-do-list, it’s always best to have a notepad and a pen to hand to write all the important stuff down as and when you hear it.

Chances are, you’ll be bombarded with a lot of information on your first day alone, and it’ll be an impossible feat to fit it all in your head in amongst the excitement, nerves, and various colleagues’ names.

Keeping a written account of what you need to do and remember will help you stay on track throughout your induction period – and stop your mind from trailing off into a haze of stress.

It might also help you remember where to find the coffee. Nobody wants to forget that.


Still feeling nervous about your new job? Here are ways to help you impress on your first day.


9 comments on “How to: Stop feeling nervous about starting a new job

  1. Alana @ Alanatravels - March 1, 2017 at 16:56

    Thanks for this. I really needed this advice for a job I am training for. My jitters are a bit out of control.

  2. Elliott Spencer - January 24, 2018 at 06:12

    I am still worried after 3 months. I got praise for my customer service and how I picked it up yet still making mistakes. I fear I may not pass my probation period and get another job

    1. Peter Saarloos - February 4, 2018 at 10:32

      Hey Elliot, are you still doing okay?

      I have this a lot too, some deeply rooted insecurity that always makes me think I’m making mistakes or am incompetent. I was a simple job in catering and thought I sucked and that everyone hated me, when my manager suddenly gave me a leadership position because ‘she had confidence in my ability.’

      There’s no quick-tip to getting rid of deeply rooted insecurities, but I can at least say that, if you’re giving it your best and you’re sincere, you’re allowed to make mistakes. Even your boss decides not to give you the job, that’s his responsibility and not yours. All you have to do is focus on working and learning.

      For me, it always sort of helped to make the situation more objective. Imagine you’re a machine your boss loaned for a probation period to do some task, and after a few months he will evaluate it. The machine can’t change the way it operates and it can’t do everything; it’s up to your boss to see if he likes the way it operates. You do your operation, he does the evaluation.

      Good luck! I hope it works out for you 🙂 Even if you don’t get this job, you’ll get there!

      1. Sooverit - April 30, 2018 at 18:40

        What a lovely reply, and I’m delighted to hear your story had such a positive outcome. Well done! I’m starting a new job in the morning, and your advice I felt was better than the article, so thank you Peter 🙂

    2. Joe Franks - February 11, 2020 at 03:20

      Elliott, I just started my new job last week and I am on a three month probation myself. I am wondering myself if I don’t do well, will I loose the job.

  3. Andra - May 28, 2018 at 18:33

    Great thanks

  4. Joe Franks - February 11, 2020 at 03:17

    Good advice. I just started a new job last week. I’ve worked on one computer platform for a number of years. I am now working with Window environments that I’ve only had some training on so needless to say I am totally nervous and scared. I have to have a laptop all set for a user by the end of this week, but the previous person retired and I don’t have very good documentation on setting up a new computer. Doing a lot of googling, and on the phone with the Help Desk a lot to find out where the software is located on the servers. I sure hope I will do well on this job. The person before me did the work for almost 30 years and I didn’t have a chance to get any kind of training from her.

  5. clara - May 17, 2020 at 07:44

    I started my hospital duty as a nurse just last week and I still feel uneasy. Everyday, when I go to my work place I feel like crying because of anxiety; and everyday I am always thinking to resign already because the pressure is just overwhelming. I am scared that I might not able to adjust in my new environment.

    1. Julio - November 13, 2020 at 10:18

      This might be a little too late, but I hope that your anxiety and other fears have become more manageable over time. Thank you for your service during these tough times, even if you did already resign, any bit really did count. Hope you’ve been doing well, much love 🙂