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How to keep new job nerves in check when you’re trying to make good impression

It’s Rishi Sunak’s first week as PM – but he’s not the only one who has to grapple with new-starter nerves. By Imy Brighty-Potts.

As Rishi Sunak is no doubt feeling right now – when you start a new job, the pressure is on to make a good first impression.

Thankfully, holding down the top role in Government isn’t something most of us will have to contend with. But starting any new job can bring a mix of feelings – and it’s natural to be nervous. Perhaps you’re scared of saying or doing the wrong thing, upsetting the status quo, or worries that you aren’t qualified enough are setting in…

While those are all totally natural fears, can we do anything to help us handle new-job nerves and use the energy to our advantage?

Coach yourself into a positive mindset

Steve Jefferys, a coach at YourShift (, says there are exercises you can do to help set positive mindset for yourself.

“Imagine how you’ll feel when reflecting on your first month in the role,” he suggests. “What have you achieved? How do you feel? What do your colleague think – and what simple steps can you take to make this happen? You’ll get motivation and confidence from within, knowing you can do it.”

Yes, chances are you’ll have things to learn in your new role – that’s part of the process for everyone. But as Desiree Anderson, a career coach at Crest Coaching and HR, says: “Remember that you were hired for a reason – your strengths and experience have been deemed to be great in order to tackle the priorities ahead. Remember your strengths and what you have accomplished up to this point.”

Map out your first week

A bit of prep and planning goes a long way and can really help us feel calm about starting in a new role. “Work with your hiring manager before you arrive to understand how [your first week] works: what meetings you’ll be in, what will you get up to speed on, who you’ll meet, what questions you might ask,” Jeffreys suggests. “Having a practical focus will calm you and give you confidence.”

Get to know your new team

The people make up an important part of any job – and breaking the ice with them might help you to get settled.

“Suggest meeting for a casual coffee or afterwork drink with them a week or so before. Chat to them informally, get to know them,” says Jeffreys. “You’ll have a blanket of psychological safety when you first walk in, and seeing ‘familiar’ faces again will boost your confidence.”

Turn to your team for advice

Asking questions is often the best way to learn. “Reach out to others in your team and use their expertise to enhance the objectives you have. By recognising that you can’t do it all yourself, you will draw closer to those around you who can help,” says Anderson.

“This will take the weight off your shoulders, and encourage you to forge relationships with others. Also, you will be drawing from others’ experience and therefore your decisions will be reached from a more discerning perspective. Knowing you can leverage the experience of others will help you keep calm and focus on achieving priorities.”

Get to grips with tech and admin quickly

There can be a lot of faff associated with starting a new job, getting to grips with their tech and filing systems and comms – and you may feel overwhelmed until you’ve mastered it.

“Computer log-ins, server access, door cards, safety instructions, canteen access, meeting the office manager… Get it all done in first couple of days,” says Jeffreys. “The quicker you make the unfamiliar familiar, the calmer and more confident you’ll be.”

Have something fun to aim for

Week one in a new job can be challenging – and rewarding yourself is a great way to keep your motivation up. “Drinks with your colleagues, a trip away with your partner, a meal out – whatever it is, give yourself a reward,” says Jeffreys. “Positively reinforce the decision you’ve made and reflect on a first week well done.”


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