Congratulations on your new job! Whether or not you’ve made a complete career change, the first few weeks at a new job can be challenging.
Here are 8 ways to a smarter, smoother fresh start.
Five things to pack for day one
1. A (near) perfect pitch
Reduce the stress of introducing yourself to gazillions of new colleagues by scripting a few short lines. These needn’t be word perfect and Oscar worthy. Talk about why you’re delighted to be in your new role and add a bit about your work background. This timely bit of preparation really helps if you’re starting a whole new career. Feeling ready to meet fresh faces can boost your confidence and help you connect. It also frees up brain space for watching and listening to how people respond to you.
2. A notebook
Counter a career change beginner’s wobble, and avoid information overload by writing stuff down.
- Record questions as they occur to you, then review, prioritise, ask and note the answers. Remind yourself that it’s perfectly natural and right to have heaps of questions - about everything from strange acronyms to performance criteria. Suss out the best times and ways to ask. For example, perhaps your manager prefers email to random face-to-face queries or Monday mornings to Friday afternoons.
- Sketch a mud map of the office and note who works where and add something memorable to help you remember their name and role. If this system fails you, try saying something like ‘I’m sorry, I’ve been absorbing so much information today, could you please remind me of your name?’
- Note the names and locations of recommended places to eat or take a refreshing break or the most efficient or interesting commutes. Bond with your colleagues by feeding your impressions back to people who shared their valuable local knowledge.
3. A sweater and some small change
You’ll be covered if the office air con is set to ‘glacial’ or if there’s a ritual run for morning coffee.
4. A flexible mindset
This is possibly the single best thing to bring to your new job. A flexible mindset helps you to see challenges and change as a chance to ‘get better’ at being clever, capable you. A new job may be scary but it’s not a threat to your credibility or your smarts. Starting afresh means building your expertise not proving it. A flexible mindset makes it easier to be open and humble and curious – three qualities that really help when it comes to navigating a new job in a new workplace culture.
Three things to do in week one
1. Ask for and accept help
If you’re tempted to go it alone, don’t. They hired you knowing your background, knowing it’s a career change and knowing you will be ace. Chances are no one expects you to slip fully formed into your new role and most people will be glad to help you find your feet. Asking for or accepting help when it’s offered doesn’t make you look incompetent. However, wasting hours trying to solve something a colleague might help you sort in an instant, possibly will.
By all means have a go at solving a problem and note how you went about it. But call for back up before frustration overwhelms you.
If you struggle with asking for or accepting help, it might be time to change your mindset.
2. Add value
As well as soaking up new information, look to make a start on making a difference. If you’ve won a vacant role, there are probably heaps of jobs piled up. If you discussed a particular project or need at interview, write up a brief proposal for tackling it. If you spot a procedural pinch point, see if you see ease it. If the coffee pot is empty, refill it.
3. Be OK being uncomfortable
Starting a new job for the first or the fifteenth time is a fine way to trigger a serious bout of impostor syndrome. Whether you do or don’t have a clue about what you’re doing, you’re likely to feel like a fake. Few things are as uncomfortable as the fear of being exposed as a know nothing fraud who has no business being in their job.
The ‘bad’ or at least the interesting news for most of us is this feeling never entirely leaves, no matter how competent we are. The good news is, we can learn to use it as a force for good. Because being uncomfortable and out of your comfort zone means you’re exploring new territory and learning new stuff.
If like me, you’re one of a growing number of career changers embarking on a portfolio career, you’ll have multiple chances to learn to love the edge of your comfort zone. It’s a great place to explore who you are, where you belong and what you can achieve in and outside of your career.
This clear, inspired advice on how to handle the career change curve balls that come with a new job is from the team that trained me at Careershifters. Their motto is, ‘Life’s too short to be unhappy at work.’
Finally, however clumsy and incompetent you feel in your new situation, remember these two things. That comfortable job you just left, there’s a reason why you aren’t there any more. Your scary, overwhelming new role, it’s bound to get easier.
Need help to navigate your new job? Book a chat.
By Jo Green, Career Change Coach
I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead! I can help you explore what meaningful work is for you. I’ll work with you to lessen the stress of changing careers.
Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.