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Making the Most of a New Job

Many people long to change careers, but are put off by fear of the unknown. It is a scary thought — in the new job you will not be able to rely on the same skills and knowledge. You may have to compete with younger or more experienced people, and it might lead to a drop in income. There are undoubtedly risks involved. However, many of your experiences and abilities will be transferable.

Reducing Uncertainty

  • Plan your career move while you are still employed. This takes extra effort and stops many people from making the change.
  • Be sure of yourself and your plan. Visit a career counselor or coach to discuss your options. Research your new direction. Will you need more training? Where can you get work experience? Can you train and keep your current job? If not, can you afford to stop working while you train?
  • Talk to people in your proposed field. They probably will be more than happy to give advice. Ask them if they know other people you could talk to. Networking is important when it comes time to find a job.

Starting a New Job

At the start of a new job there’s a lot to learn and a lot of people to meet. The new environment is unknown and daunting. A new job marks the beginning of a new era in your life, and you’ll feel you have to prove yourself and be accepted. This can become quite stressful.

Tips for Reducing Stress at a New Job


  • Research your new environment so you won’t be going into the complete unknown.
  • Get everything ready for your first day and plan your journey, so you aren’t flustered. Prompt arrival makes a good first impression. Think about how your route to the office and how much time you will need to allow.
  • Be sure you know the company dress policy. This will make choosing a suitable outfit much easier and you will be able to blend in.
  • Be organized. Make sure that you have everything you need for your first day, especially new employee paperwork.

To reduce pre-first day jitters:

  • Get everything you can ready.
  • Aim to get a good night’s sleep — but don’t rely on alcohol!
  • Have a bath to help you wind down before bed.
  • Call friends for support, but avoid anxious people.
  • Try a relaxation technique such as progressive relaxation and deep breathing.
  • Build up your confidence by recalling past successes.

On your first day:

  • Try to contain your nervousness. First impressions count. Remember everyone there was new once.
  • Be enthusiastic and show initiative so you are noticed, appreciated and given responsibility. Ask if there’s anything that needs doing, or if there’s information on the company that you can read.
  • Get involved and be friendly and willing. Offer to do things like make coffee to make yourself feel more a part of the existing team. Pay attention to what your colleagues do and try to get their names right, at least those of people you’ll be working closely with.
  • During your first few days, don’t receive or make personal emails or phone calls, start booking vacation or asking what time you can leave.

The first three months:

  • Don’t struggle along. If you are not sure how to do something, ask. That way you will always know exactly what you are doing, how it should be done and when it needs to be completed.
  • Don’t be too quick to complain or argue. Give things a chance first. Make sure all criticism is constructive, not destructive.
  • Avoid being overly friendly. You will run the risk of seeming insincere.
  • In addition to learning the duties and responsibilities of your new role, aim to understand ‘how the system works’ and identify leaders.
  • Avoid putting too much pressure on yourself to get everything right first time. Try your best, but remember you are only human.

There is nearly always a honeymoon period at the start of a job when you are accepted and welcomed, and you learn quickly. You also are able to ask lots of questions at the start, but soon enough you will be expected to know the answers and fewer allowances will be made. Use that honeymoon period to your advantage.


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Making the Most of a New Job

Jane Collingwood

Jane Collingwood is a longtime regular contributing journalist to Psych Central, focusing on topics of mental health and dissecting recent research findings.

APA Reference
Collingwood, J. (2019). Making the Most of a New Job. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 18 Mar 2019 (Originally: 17 May 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 18 Mar 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.