New Job Nerves: How to Work Through Your Nervousness and Do Your Best

A woman working in a technical lab space

By Jacqueline Riselay, CHRP - Future Ready Premium Program Career Coach with Student and Graduate Employment

So, you got the job offer; you’ve been hired. It’s all smooth sailing from here, right? In a perfect world, yes, but we don’t live in a perfect world, do we? 

A new job means that you are facing a change, which can be intimidating and scary, and can bring all kinds of nerves with it. The good news is that you are not alone. It’s VERY common and completely normal to experience nerves about a new job, whether it’s your first time entering the world of work, or you’re a seasoned professional. 

How do I know this, you ask? Well, after working for an organization for almost 10 years, I started a new job with a new organization last October, and I was NERVOUS. I didn’t know much about the team I was joining, their way of working, or whether I was going to be a welcome addition, and that was tough. 

Let me tell you, it’s much easier to sit behind this screen now and tell you what I think than to actually experience it myself; but I got through it, and so can you! 

So, where do you start? There are many things that you can do to prepare for your first day on a new job to help ease some of those first day jitters, and here are a few: 


Before Your First Day 

The preparation that you do before your first day on the job can be extremely valuable in setting you up for success, and easing some of your nerves.  

Before you even start, ask your new supervisor for all logistical information and other things you would need to know for your first day, and write it all down. This would include things like:

  • where specifically you will be meeting them
  • what time you need to meet them
  • where you should park, if applicable
  • what you need to bring with you on your first day (identification, legal documents, etc.)
  • what the office dress code is
  • what, if anything, you need to review before your first day

You can also create a checklist of everything you need to bring the morning of your first day to ensure that you have not forgotten anything. By asking for all of this information ahead of your first day, you will feel more prepared when you arrive, which can ease some of those nerves. 

Something else you can do ahead of your first day (if your company has not already done so), is ask your supervisor if they can assign you an “onboarding buddy.” This person would be a peer who can support you with integrating into the team and be someone you can go to when you have questions, need advice, or just need someone to have lunch with. Because they are a peer and not your supervisor, they can feel more approachable, and can also share their unique perspective of what it’s like to be part of that team. You will also be able to start your employment knowing that you have someone you can lean on for support.

A third thing I recommend doing ahead of time is to write down any questions that you want to know about your work, the team, expectations, etc. When we get nervous, it can be easy to forget things we want to ask, so this helps you to be prepared. In turn, being prepared can help ease those nerves because you know that you can refer to your list of questions and don’t have to feel anxious about forgetting to ask something important that you want to know. 

One last thing I would suggest for the night before your first day is to make time to plan your next morning, then integrate some self-care into your evening, and get a good night’s sleep. First, choose your outfit and have it laid out and ready for the morning, ensure your lunch is packed if you are bringing one, and have all of your documents ready to go. Having everything ready the evening before will help prevent you from feeling rushed in the morning. Once all of that is done, then it’s time to do a stress-relieving activity. This might look like going for a walk in nature or doing some other form of physical exercise, making yourself a nutritious meal, or any other activity that you enjoy and helps you to relax. Finally, you want to ensure that you unwind from the day and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Some things that will support this is to eliminate screen time at least one hour before getting into bed, and putting on a guided meditation or listening to some soothing sounds as you are falling asleep. 


On Your First Day

Now, the day has finally arrived and you are starting your new job. I know that you’re feeling some nervousness, which can eliminate your appetite, but I strongly recommend that you start your day with a glass of water and something nutritious for breakfast; and definitely do this before you have any coffee. I know many of us like to start our day with some caffeine, but caffeine, especially on an empty stomach can actually make feelings of nervousness and anxiety even worse. Having a healthy breakfast will help set you up for a good start and will prevent any distraction from hunger when you arrive. 

Something else that can help ease your first day nerves is to ask your new supervisor or your onboarding buddy what their first day was like. You can also share with them that you are feeling a bit nervous about starting something new and ask if they have any advice for you. As humans, we find connection in shared experiences, and this can help by showing you that you are not alone in your feelings, and can also provide you with some valuable guidance. 

Lastly, give yourself some grace, and be gentle with yourself. Like I said earlier, almost every single human on this planet experiences new job nerves and so the best piece of advice I can give you is to prepare for what you can, and embrace the uncertainty of what you can’t. As with anything in life, you can do everything possible to prepare, but there are some things that are uncertain and beyond your control. Accepting and embracing this uncertainty can help to change your mindset from seeing your first day as a big scary thing, to viewing it from a place of curiosity and excitement for the road ahead. 

And remember, they chose YOU for this position, and you’re going to be amazing!