It is a truth universally acknowledged (and often accompanied by a chorus of grunts or deep, mournful sighs) that job seeking sucks absolute monkey nuts. It is dispiriting, tiring and more than once will make you want to throw your laptop at the wall.
When you finally hit the jackpot and find a shiny new job to call your own, the world seems like your oyster. But what if that first day looming large suddenly seems a bit less like victory and a lot more like AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH? And what if that first week turns out to be so dizzyingly frightening that you begin to pine for the blue and white calm of the Reed Recruitment frontpage?
Well, having recently gone through this very process, I wanted to share some of the ways I managed to keep my head above water during that first week on my new job. Again, your mileage will almost certainly vary, but I hope that this at least gives you something helpful to hold on to when it gets a bit too much and you can’t remember everything anyone’s telling you.
Speaking of which…
1. You almost certainly will not immediately remember everything anyone’s telling you
And that’s okay. It’s only the first week – so you’ll have plenty of time to get to the nitty-gritty of your new job. Think of it as a painting in progress. In the first week, concentrate on the broad strokes. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or ask for help with that one thing you can’t seem to get the hang of. Then, as the weeks go on and you get comfortable with what you’re doing, the fine lines and colour details will fill themselves in.
One day you’ll go to work and you’ll notice that those things that made you hallucinate question marks in week one stop seeming like a cryptic puzzle. And that will be a good day, but it’s a day that takes time to come – just know that it’s okay to not quite remember at first.
2. Don’t compare yourself to colleagues who have been doing this job for longer
Especially if this is an entirely new field to you. This is one of those things that can trip you up easier than a loose bit of carpeting. Don’t let it– but should it do so (it almost definitely will happen a few times, unfortunately) take someone who seems trustworthy aside and talk it through.
Your colleagues have all been through this, and you will for sure not be the only one who has had moments of first week self-doubt. Know also that, much like what I said in the first bit, you are not yet meant to be on that level by a long shot. Whether they’ve been there for three months, six months, a year, ten years – you’ve only just started. Experience comes with time, trial and error.
3. Take it one hour at a time
If you’re really freaking out, and you find yourself considering bolting, don’t take it one day at a time. One day can seem like a hulking monolith. Mentally divide it into one hour at a time. Take a magazine or a book with you to read on your breaks, so your thoughts will be distracted. At the end of the week, take a deep breath and spend your weekend off doing absolutely nothing.
4. Everyone makes mistakes – even people who have been there for ages
Repeat after me: seniority on the job does not make you immune to making mistakes. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on going.
5. Screaming into a pillow is okay
Or whatever else helps you let off steam at the end of the day during that first week. I suggest baking bread, because kneading’s ridiculously therapeutic.
6. A special tip for those stepping into a retail/hospitality job
Don’t let the bastards get you down. If a customer comes in and acts all high and mighty over you, singing the time tested chorus of “I can do your job in my sleep”, keep your breathing and your voice as level as you can and don’t rise to them. They can’t – and the fact that their statement doesn’t even work logically is proof of that.
But most of all – no matter what kind of job you’ve bagsied – keep this in mind. You will be fine and this too shall pass. Give yourself a big-ass high-five (and a chocolate cookie and possibly half an hour of Googling sexy pictures of Idris Elba).
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