The Top 5 Reasons for New Job Jitters, and How to Stay Calm Before Your First Day
This is why we're all nervous wrecks before starting a new job, according to LinkedIn.
Anyone who doesn’t get nervous before starting a new job is made of very tough stuff. In fact, they’re in a class all their own, since a LinkedIn data report finds that 80 percent of working professionals experience nerves when starting a new job. And unsurprisingly first-day jitters get even more intense in the last days leading up to their start date (67 percent of that group feel them mostly right before they begin a new job).
No matter how confident someone is, few are truly immune to the debilitating combination of impostor syndrome, social anxiety, and fear of the unknown that hits before starting a new role. To get to the “why” behind new job jitters, LinkedIn asked respondents to name what they were most worried about.
The most nerve-wracking concern, according to 55 percent of professionals, is that they won’t be good at their job quickly enough. Second is the more general worry that they won’t succeed (48 percent)—not just quickly, but ever. This is closely followed by the possibility they won’t actually like the job (42 percent) and might regret taking it in the first place. They’re also ruminating about social impressions, with 32 percent worrying their colleagues and/or bosses won’t like them. Finally, 28 percent fear they aren’t qualified for their new position (did they get hired by mistake—and how soon will everyone find out?).
Women feel it in particular. They’re more concerned than men are about being liked, LinkedIn finds. They’re also twice as likely as men to continue experiencing nerves a few months after they’ve started. Age plays a role too: Boomers feel the least nervous of any generation that they won’t succeed or aren’t qualified for the job. It’s good to know that a sense of calm and confidence helps abate the nerves as we age and gain professional (and life) experience.
Is there a way to keep new job jitters completely at bay? Unfortunately, nervousness is a natural, physiological response that's hard to prevent altogether. But here are a few effective reminders to reassure yourself everything will be OK (eventually, at least).
Make peace with not knowing everything.
Scared you won’t be good at your job quickly enough? Remember that no one expects you to jump right in and know exactly what you’re doing. “Managers tell us that one of the biggest mistakes people make in their first 90 days at a new job is acting like a know-it-all,” says LinkedIn Career Expert Blair Heitmann. “Instead of worrying that you need all the answers, plan to arrive with plenty of questions instead. You’ll make the right impression by being open to feedback, being positive, being proactive about learning new skills, listening, and asking thoughtful questions.”
Be proactive about meeting people.
You haven’t met anyone yet—so why wouldn’t they like you before you’ve even started? (Plus, your future coworkers are probably stressing about whether or not you’ll like them.) Calm your nerves by having a proactive game plan for getting to know people. “One of the first things you should do is build your professional community at work,” Heitmann says. “It’ll help you get to know the culture better, open doors to new opportunities, and make work more enjoyable.”
Ask your boss or teammates whom you should get to know first. Ask them if they’ll make an intro, then offer to take a walk or buy them a coffee to make a friendly connection. “Don’t just focus on people above you,” Heitmann adds. “Support at all levels is essential to success.” (And for making work friends!)
Up-level your skills.
Sometimes the best thing you can do to kick nagging anxiety is take action. Worried you’re lacking a skill you’ll need on the job that never came up in the interview? Do something about it. Take a course to brush up on your negotiating skills; refresh your dusty Photoshop skills with an online tutorial; read a helpful book on effective management styles; or hit up a LinkedIn Learning course on anything from photography to public speaking. If you're insecure about a potential gap in your skill set, rather than dwell on it, make an effort to fill it.