A Working Title: Finding Your Feet in Your New Job

Monday, 26 June 2017

There is little in life that makes me more anxious than the unknown. I am a big planner and I hate to be left in the dark about anything. I've recently started a new job - only my second 'proper adult job' since graduating. This has been one of those situations where I've just had to accept that I can't know everything before it happens and I turned up on my first day without a clue what to expect. I was pretty spoilt at my old job and had every minute of my first couple of weeks planned out for me with meetings set up, a team lunch, a step-by-step job manual and lots of training booked in. This isn't usually the way it goes in most jobs.

Although diving straight in to a new job can be really nerve-wracking and you may feel totally lost for a good few weeks, there are definitely ways to make things run a bit more smoothly. I've put together a few hints and tips to alleviate some of the stress and make sure you can focus on enjoying this exciting new change.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead, especially before your first morning, is such a good idea. Here are 3 things you can do the night before to make your life much easier:
  • Your outfit - make sure to find out what the office dress code is before you start. If in doubt, always aim for too smart rather than not smart enough. Check the weather and choose your outfit the night before. That way, all you have to do in the morning is throw your clothes on, have your breakfast, do your face and you're out the door. No big decisions to be made.
  • Travel - unless you're lucky enough to be within walking distance of your office, the morning commute can really make or break your day. Train delays and traffic are an all-too-frequent issue all workers face but have no control over so make sure you prepare for all outcomes and get a slightly earlier train or leave 10 minutes earlier than Google says you need to. You can always grab a coffee at the other end if you have time to spare.
  • Food - I always try to prepare my lunch the night before as it's one less thing to do in the morning. I'd always choose an extra 10 minutes in bed! For your first day however, you may prefer to just turn up and see what's what first. You may have a team lunch organised or you might want to head out and explore your surroundings at lunch. A meal deal option is never far away. I can not stress enough how important it is to eat though - there's so much going on, names to remember, questions to ask, that it's easier than you think to forget to refuel.

Ask Questions

There's a saying...you know the one...there's no such thing as a stupid question. It's a cliche but it's true! You can't expect to be given everything on a plate - you may have to shape your role yourself or bring new ideas to the table. To do this well, you need to be know how things work. So ask questions and read anything and everything that you can about the company - annual reports, policies, good and bad press. Everything.

There are also other, more practical questions to ask to avoid making any rookie errors:

  • How long do you get for lunch? You don't want to assume an hour and return to the office to find out you only get half an hour (I definitely nearly did this!). You may also be pleasantly surprised - friends of mine get an hour for lunch plus 2x 15 minute breaks throughout the day!
  • Does your office offer flexi-time? Sometimes you may be able to alternate between 8-4/9-5/10-6 etc to suit you. Always worth an ask. They can only say no.
  • Are there any staff benefits? You're often entitled to some sort of discount on shopping/gym memberships/etc and there may be other schemes you can get involved in. A great one is a season ticket loan - where your employer covers a whole year's travel (the most cost-efficient way to do it) and then spreads the cost across your pay for the year, with no interest charged.
  • Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Suss out whether these are provided by your employer, or you have to bring them in yourself. There might be other things too like free fruit which is great for a healthy mid-afternoon boost and will save you a lot of money. On a related theme - DO NOT leave your favourite coffee mug in the staff kitchen as it WILL be stolen and lost forever (cry). I now lock everything away in my drawer, drinking vessels are hot property in an office environment!

Get organised!

This should really be a given and I'm sure they didn't give you the job if they didn't think you could handle it. You will have a lot of information thrown your way though at first and somewhere in there will be appointments, meetings, events, training etc that you need to make sure you attend! Whether it's through your Outlook calendar, your phone or a good old fashioned diary (my filofax is my best friend), find a way to keep track of your new commitments.

I've always been a list maker and when it comes to organising your brain, there's no better way than to just get it all down on paper - or on computer. I'm all for saving paper but also for being able to edit without covering your page with scribbles so I use an online tool. Workflowy is basically just a digital to-do list - a way of getting all your thoughts, tasks and questions down in one place. You can sort in to categories, use hashtags to filter down your lists and mark things as complete once they're done. It's free and so, so simple to use. Check it out - workflowy.com .

Be kind to yourself

Don't expect too much from your first week. It sounds pessimistic and I don't mean go in with a negative attitude, just don't expect to be an expert after just a few days.

Take it slowly. There will be a lot of information to absorb and it will feel pretty overwhelming. You won't know what's going on for at least a few weeks and you will forget names! But that's okay. Everyone's been there and they will all understand.

Give yourself regular breaks just to breathe, make a cuppa, nip to the loo and collect your thoughts. Get early nights and make sure you're eating well.

A great way to feel more settled more quickly is to bring something of your home life to your new job. Your favourite mug, a little pot plant or a photo are lovely touches for your desk. If you don't have your own desk or locker, then bring something like a photo with you in your bag. That way, if you're having a tough time or just need a time out, there will be something there to cheer you up and take you elsewhere for a few seconds.

I know this seems like a lot to remember, but they're just suggestions. You were hired for good reason and you're going to be amazing. It'll all become second nature before too long.

Relax and enjoy it!


  1. Such a handy post! The interview process is nerve wracking enough but the first day is never easy either!! It's so important to ask questions to find out about breaks etc, but I think it's also a good to observe and see how other people play it (e.g. is it ok to have your personal phone on your desk, does everyone leave on the dot at the end of the day, do you have to stagger lunchbreaks with others).

    Sinéad xo Fabuleuse Du Jour

    1. Thanks Sinead! Really glad it has been useful for someone. I totally agree about the phones thing and timing. It's a difficult balance. You don't want to feel as if it's all rules and 'don't-dos', but then you are there to work at the end of the day! H x


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