How to handle first day nerves

By Robert Half on 15th March 2023

Nervous about starting a new job? First day job nerves are something we all experience at some point. They can cause sleepless nights, anxiety and a loss of focus, leading to a potentially bad first impression.

However, overcoming first day nerves is easier than you might think. With a few simple techniques, you can walk into a new office looking confident and feeling prepared for your first day. 

Prepare properly

Preparation is an excellent cure for new job nerves—no one wants to arrive in a new office on day one feeling dishevelled and caught off-guard.

The night before you’re due to start, make sure you get a good night’s sleep and that you’ve set a morning alarm which gives you plenty of time to get ready and leave early.

It also doesn't hurt to pack your bag with any HR documents you might need, so you don’t face an early morning scramble that leaves you stressed and flustered.

Related: How to be the best version of yourself at work

Re-familiarise yourself with the role

If you’re nervous about starting a new job, try reading through your job description again.

By taking a few minutes to familiarise yourself with your direct report and the tasks you’ll be doing on a daily basis, you can mentally prepare yourself and know what’s expected of you.

Take your time

It’s likely that you’ll be handed a lot of literature on your first day in a new job. HR documents, process guides, branding guidelines and basic homework on the company itself.

Being on the receiving end of a huge stack of papers can be very overwhelming, so take your time going through each document. Be sure to ask questions if anything is unclear—it’s your first day, so no one will expect you to know everything.

Prepare a mental introduction

New colleagues are far more likely to be receptive towards you if you’re outgoing and friendly, so it never hurts to have a short introductory message memorised.

Having something prepared will make it feel far less awkward when greeting new colleagues for the first time and will give you the confidence to approach people first. Remember; there’s a fine line between revealing too much and being cagey and standoffish.

Related: How to introduce yourself on the first day of a new job

Re-program your mindset

Feeling anxious about your capabilities, being instantly disliked or failing at the first hurdle can form the foundation of new job anxiety.

Instead of allowing your nerves to consume you, try turning them into the kind of DIY attitude that employers love. Think of your nerves as a good thing: they’re helping you stay on your toes at an important time and show that you’re pushing your personal boundaries.

Be kind to yourself

The last and most important thing to help ease first day nerves is to remember to be kind to yourself. Piling on the pressure to get everything right one day one is unrealistic and will only cause more anxiety and nervousness.

Set yourself some realistic goals for your first day at work, like remembering colleagues’ names, finding someone to take lunch with and completing at least one meaningful task. It’ll help you feel more confident about the days ahead and will get things off to a strong start.


You can find more career advice from Robert Half here, or alternatively, feel free to reach out to one of our recruitment experts today.

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