When you’re first starting out in a new job, it can feel awkward. Even if you have effective onboarding, you might not be sure what to say, who to talk to, or how to figure out what you need to know. And you’re not alone. Most people struggle with discomfort in the first few days, weeks, or even months at a new gig. The author shares three psychological reasons that explain why these transitions can be uncomfortable as well as ways to overcome the associated challenges – or to help smooth the way for a new hire who just joined your team.
Starting at a new job in a new workplace is exciting, but it can also be uncomfortable. Regardless of how many jobs you’ve had before, you may suddenly feel like the new kid in class, with all eyes on you. How can you overcome the awkwardness of those first few weeks? Is there any way to feel at ease when you’re brand new? And if you’re the one welcoming a new person to your team, what can you do to smooth the way for them?
The most significant source of awkwardness is that you just aren’t sure what to expect. The brain is a prediction engine. It wants to accurately forecast what’s going to happen, and a lack of confidence about the future creates anxiety. (That’s the same reason why foreign travel is often more fun in retrospect than it is in the moment.)
When we’re uncertain about what will happen, we default to inaction. This is for two reasons. One, our anxiety motivates us to avoid potential threats or calamities. Two, when we do experience bad outcomes, we’re more likely to blame actions we take rather than things we fail to do. So we convince ourselves that not doing anything is less likely to cause problems. As a result, when you’re not sure what’s going on, it can be difficult to start conversations with new colleagues or to speak up.
This tendency to remain silent is made worse by concerns that you’ll say the wrong thing. Even when we’re talking to people we know well, we tend to avoid saying things we think might be misinterpreted. As it turns out, in reality, people focus mostly on the intent behind what you say rather than the specific words you use to say it. So, new colleagues are unlikely to form a negative impression of you, because they rarely notice the things you were concerned would be awkward. It really is ok to chat with your new colleagues and to ask questions when you’re confused.
To help ease the way for a new colleague, try to make things feel more certain. Introduce them to others in the office. Let them know how the workday ebbs and flows. If you’re working remotely, leave yourself a note to reach out to your new colleague at least once a day so that they don’t get lost in the shuffle.
You might be a brilliant project manager with all the right certifications and experience. But if you apply for a job you’re not qualified for, you’re probably not going to get it.
Feeling hopeless about your job search can stem from applying for jobs that aren’t right for you. You might not have the right skills for the job you’re applying for. Or maybe you’re just not the right fit for the company.
Just as you consider the position’s hours, workload, wages, employee benefits, location, and so on, they have certain qualities they’re looking for. An organization needs to make sure you have the right behavior and attitude for their company culture.
Remember that even if you’re doing the right things, finding a job can be a struggle. Depending on what your experience level is and what your career and salary needs are, finding the right position can take time. The headlines about the job market usually reflect macro conditions that might not be relevant to your search.
The job market is always competitive, but the global coronavirus pandemic has made finding jobs even more difficult for some people. We will feel the economic impact of COVID-19 for years to come. You might not feel like you’ll be in a position to have options to decline an offer that isn’t the perfect fit for you.
Besides pressure from those around you, the pressure you put on yourself can cause you to have unrealistic expectations. And when you don’t meet them, you’ll only harbor more mental and physical stress, as well as burnout and physical exhaustion.
“Interviewing is a lot like dating,” says Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter of CareerTrend.net. “It’s important to entice with your value and attract them to call you for the next ‘date.’” Offering up your references too soon may hint at desperation. Plus, you don’t want to run the risk of overusing your references. (Via LearnVest)
As with most relationships, looking interested is good, but looking too interested makes you less desirable. You may think you’re showing your future company that you’re ready to hit the ground running, but if you come on too strong post-interview (think “checking in” to restate your interest less than a week after the interview or double communicating—emailing and then emailing again without a response from the other party), you look less like a candidate they’d be lucky to hire and more like someone who’s anxious to leave your current role.
The Muse is a values-based careers site that helps people navigate every aspect of their careers and search for jobs at companies whose people, benefits, and values align with their unique professional needs. The Muse offers expert advice, job opportunities, a peek behind the scenes at companies hiring now, and career coaching services. The current team of writers and editors behind The Muse’s advice section includes Regina Borsellino, Brooke Katz, Rebeca Piccardo, Devin Tomb, and Stav Ziv—and over the years has included many other talented staffers! You can also find The Muse on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, and Flipboard.
Moon Of The South 2018