Careers Ng: How to Cope at a New Job


So you went for the interview, and you landed the ‘million dollar job’, well, maybe not exactly a million dollar or even a million naira but hey, a paying job. Anyway, fast forward to first day at work and all of a sudden, you are a nervous wreck; the confidence you exuded at the interview seems to be a dream.

Judging from experience, starting a new job is not a walk in the park; and since the first day is often the most frightening of them all, it would make things a lot more easier if you knew what you should do on that day to make a good first impression and set precedence for the rest of your time there. Today, I will be sharing some tips that helped me on my first day at work, keep these tips in mind as and you’ll do just fine.

Leave Home Early
This point cannot be overemphasized especially if you have to commute very far. Really, this is like the first most important thing to do on your first day on a new job. Especially in the metropolis of Lagos, I am sorry I have to use Lagos as a yardstick but hey, I live in Lagos and I am yet to see a city that is plagued with traffic jams (unnecessary ones if you ask me) like Lagos is.

Now back to the matter at hand, the truth is you never know what may happen on your way to work. For instance, you could end up in traffic that would make a normally thirty minute drive turn into an hour. On my first day on the job at Ngcareers, my one hour commute turned into a three hour commute because of an accident. Thankfully, I left home earlier than I would ordinarily have done. I was too nervous to sleep, so I left the home very early.
Ensure you give yourself ample time by leaving home earlier than you would usually. It will help to reduce the stress factor and also help prevent a late arrival. Being early on the first day is much better than being late.

Even though you might feel like a teenager on her first date, don’t let that show through. Now when I say you should not let it show, I don’t mean you should deny the fact that you are nervous. That is the exact opposite of what I think you should do. Admit that you are nervous and then smile. According to a research published in the journal Psychological Science, suggestions were made that smiling can help reduce stress – despite your actual mood. So the next time you are stuck in a difficult situation or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment, and watch that stress or nervousness melt away.

So when you walk into the building, greet anyone you see and be sure to smile. A smile goes a long way in making people feel relaxed and that includes you too. You only get one shot at the first impression, and the people you greet with a smile may turn out to be the important ones.

Report to Your Boss
It is absolutely necessary to report directly to your boss as soon as you get the office. Your boss should be the first person to give you your first instructions. Even if you work in an organization where emails are used to pass information and communicate, it is imperative you get your first briefing from him/her in person. Report to them as soon as you can. However, do not barrage them as soon as they get to the office. Give him or her about five minutes to settle in before you approach.

Be Friendly with a Colleague
Now this point might not sit well with some. It did not exactly sit well with me, because I have a habit – sometimes good, sometimes bad, of studying people before I relate with them – especially if I have to make the first move. A lot of people have this “I can do bad all by myself” approach. Trust me, it won’t do you any good. You need someone to show you the ropes. This goes for the work you will be doing, as well as for the culture of the organization. Strike up a conversation with someone who seems friendly, and then try to stay connected through the day. Just bear in mind that the person may be very busy, so don’t expect a long and engaging conversation. A simple hello, smile or question will be enough to start the relationship.

Write Write Write!
Ever heard that “faintest pen is sharper than the sharpest brain”? I am guessing you have. Well that saying carries a lot more weight than you can imagine. Carry a pad and pen with you at all times. You will need to take down notes as people give you information about the duties attached to your job role. These jottings will come in handy when you start working and can’t quite remember what you were told. Just imagine you have to go back to your boss to ask him what he said about a particular project. Not a nice mental picture right? Therefore, jot down as much information as you can.

Remember You Are New
On my first day at work I made the mistake of trying too hard and a lot of people make that mistake. You don’t have to know everything, and you don’t have to do everything. It’s your first day, so you are learning. You don’t have to impress anyone at this point. You are simply gaining knowledge with which you can dazzle your superiors later.

Ask Questions
I have learnt from personal experiences and also read that wise people ask questions and the foolish think themselves too smart to ask questions. On no condition should you feel like you’re bothering people or that your questions are stupid. Questions will make your job a lot easier as time progresses. Every single question which comes to mind, feel free to ask it. Write the question and answer on your pad when you do ask, so you don’t get to repeat the same inquiries again.

Turn Your Phone Off
Yes, you need to turn that phone off or put it on silent. Having your phone ring during a meeting, briefing or when you’re speaking to someone new is quite rude. Even if it looks like the norm there and people are doing it around you. Newsflash! This is your first day, and you need to be completely focused on what is happening work-wise rather than on your phone.

Even though you may think your first day at work will be the most difficult, it’s usually the easiest. All you have to do is brace up, go in with a smile, stay focused, sharp and then leave with a smile. Everything else falls into place from then on. Now go and have a fantastic first day of work!

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Nanditha Rao