7 survival tips for the first-day-of-work jitters

Posted October 03, 2013 by
Young woman on her first day at work

Young woman on her first day at work. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

You spent days polishing up that resume, then devoted many weeks to sending it out. You impressed in some interviews, flubbed in others, and eventually got that job offer you worked so hard to win. Now the first day of work is upon you, and suddenly you are so nervous that you can barely think straight.

Take a deep breath and rest assured: It happens to everyone. From working in the mailroom to heading up the meeting in the boardroom, those first day jitters are a rite of passage. These tips can help you handle the nerves like an old pro — and set the stage for success from your very first hour.

7 ways to wow despite the first day jitters

Don’t let first day jitters overshadow the facts: You are qualified for the job, you impressed at the interview and you are going to make a great impression on your first day. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Know where you’re going. The first day should actually begin the night before, when you plan your route. Hit up the Internet to determine the best route to your workplace and how long it will take to get there. Choose an alternate route as well, just in case. Print out the directions even if you don’t think you need them, because peace of mind can go a long way toward calming your nerves.
  2. Wake up bright and early. Being punctual is crucial to making a good impression, and that has never been more true than on the first day of work. Plan to pull into the parking lot fifteen minutes early. Set your alarms to give you ample time to get ready and on the road. Make sure to go to bed a bit early, too — you should be well-rested to tackle the first day.
  3. Be the best-dressed. Choose clothing appropriate for your position. If you’re not sure, you can never go wrong with business casual. Wear something that you have worn before and you’re certain is comfortable; today is not the time to break in those new shoes or try out that freshly-purchased blazer. Layers are always a good bet, as you can peel them away if the office is a little stuffy.
  4. Get your game face on. Walk into work with a confident stride, a bright smile and a can-do attitude. How do you achieve this? Lots of private pep-talks before the big day are a good way to start. Focus on your strengths, and see what you don’t know as an opportunity to learn and expand your experience. Do what makes you feel most confident: Wear a certain hairstyle, listen to music that gets you pumped-up, meditate, or exercise in the early morning hours. Today is the day to have confidence!
  5. That notebook is your best friend. The first day of work is a whirlwind of information, meetings, introductions and more. With all that being thrown at you, no one will bat an eye when you whip out a notebook and pen to write down something you will need to remember. The notes will come in very handy in a few days, when things start to settle down and you can really focus on the job.
  6. Be positive. Be sure to smile, pitch in to help where needed, ask intelligent questions and offer a positive vibe to everyone you meet on that first day. This upbeat outlook sets the tone for your working relationships with other people by making it clear you aren’t the gossipy type who will look for negativity. Keep it positive, and you will reap what you sow.
  7. Accept being overwhelmed. Let’s face it: You’re not the superhero of the workplace. You’re going to forget things, names will slip your mind, and you will sometimes feel completely lost. Feel free to take a moment to head to the restroom and take a deep breath in private. And don’t hesitate to be completely honest. Laughing about being overwhelmed will open the doors to help from others. After all, everyone in the office has gone through their own first day jitters. They will understand.

Finally, remember to soak it all up. The first day jitters might feel terrible right now, but within a week you will wonder what you were so nervous about. Within a month, you will be settled in and that first day will be a fond memory. During your first day, take the time to stop, look around, take a deep breath, and envision your future with your new employer. This is just the first day of a very long and rewarding career journey, so appreciate it for what it is: A fresh new beginning.

By: Shannon Dauphin Lee

About the Author:

Shannon Dauphin Lee has been writing professionally for two decades on a wide variety of topics, including medical and health issues, education, home repair and relationships.

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