What to do when you are new.

Samantha Minnis —  February 18, 2015 — Leave a comment
photo credit: Cracker Jack via photopin (license)

photo credit: Cracker Jack via photopin (license)

Oh new job jitters! It’s stressful and disconcerting to go from a job where you felt secure in your knowledge and role to a new job where you don’t even know where the bathrooms are. This is especially stressful when you want to be a leader in your new job. You want to do well! You want to impress! You want to leave your mark! You want…a pen, where is the supply closet again?

I’ve been experiencing this phenomenon myself and as I come out of the new job haze (I know where the bathrooms AND the water fountains are!) I have a few tips to share. I share these tips from two perspectives: trainer and trainee. One of my last projects at my previous position was to train new student assistants. Obviously, one of my first duties in my new position was being trained. Going from trainer to trainee helped me get a smooth start in my new position and now I hope to help you whether you are starting a whole new job, starting in a new department, or taking on a new job duty.

1. Be patient.

Nobody expects you to be an expert on your first, second, or even fourteenth day on the job. Nobody, that is, except for you. I’m sorry to report that you are going to feel awkward and lost for a while. If you embrace this you put a lot less pressure on yourself to be amazing right now. This leaves you more brain power to learn your new duties instead of beating yourself up for not knowing something.

2. Be quiet.

There is an urge to prove yourself in the early days on a new job. If someone is showing you something that you think you know, you’ll have the urge to interrupt, take over, or tell the person you already know that. Instead, just listen. You might not know it. You might not know all of it. Or you might think you know it but surprise, this is something different.  Managers usually have a system in place for showing you the ins and outs of your new job and the most impressive thing you can do while being shown new things is to listen and ask questions. A manager will be able to tell by your questions and by watching you in action that you know a process. Obviously there are exceptions: if someone else has shown you this procedure already or if you are totally comfortable with a process, it’s fine to speak up. Just don’t feel like you have to call out a bunch of answers to a process you only sort of know in order to impress. Again, go back to number 1: no one expects you to know everything right now.

3. Trust yourself.

Confession time: on my second day at my new job, I was at the circulation desk and the phone rang. And I stared at it. It rang again. I stared. I stared until it stopped ringing. It wasn’t until the moment the phone had started ringing that I realized I didn’t even know what to say when the phone rang! No one had told me! I completely missed that call because no one told me how to answer the phone. Which, of course, is silly, because I know how to answer a phone. I’ve been answering phones in one way or another my whole life and professionally for over sixteen years. You, like me, were hired for your new job because you have skills, experience, and the personality for it. The hiring committee knew it, so don’t you forget it when you’re on your new job. Of course you’ll do silly things like not answer the phone and it’s ok, the library is still standing and I am not fired, but remember: you know how to do a lot of this already. And if you don’t, just ask for help. Trust yourself to know how to answer your metaphorical phone.

Good luck out there with new jobs and new job duties! It can be a stressful time but it is ultimately rewarding to challenge yourself and learn new things. Just remember: be patient, be quiet, and trust yourself.

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