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First day on the new job: how to cope

When starting a new job, the first day is full of questions, you will be filling out forms and going through training. It can feel overwhelming. As a veteran starter of new jobs, I understand this feeling well. Your first day is a day to feel unsure but it will also help set the tone, asking questions on this day is essential. There are a few important things to remember on your first day.

Keep calm

When you first walk into the new job, you may feel overwhelmed with all the new faces and names. There’s new responsibilities and it feels like everyone is so good at the job already. Your first shift will generally be a nice one, everyone had to start somewhere, and other staff members are aware of this. Don’t panic about learning everything, you will be given a lot of information and it will be very difficult for you to process all of that. Every job has a learning curve and for some people it will take a week to settle in, for others it’ll be a few months. There is no right or wrong way to do the job, provided you try your best.

Don’t let the little things stress you out on your first day. If you forget something, then don’t worry, apologise and move on. You will make mistakes particularly when starting out so don’t let it affect the rest of your day or the rest of the time you work there. If you are dealing with a difficult situation and feel like you are struggling, make sure you ask for help. There will be problems that you do not know how to deal with as it is a new job so make sure you feel able to ask.

Important things to ask

Despite the first day being overwhelming, there are a few things you still need to remember to ask. Don’t let the busyness of the day stop you from finding out essential details. For example, being paid monthly differs from place to place. Some places will pay you the last Friday of every month, others the 25th of each month. Cut off dates will also vary so it is important to ask about pay days and money as soon as. This is also important if it was not covered in your interview, some people don’t feel comfortable bringing up money when still applying for the job, however when you have the job, this a key detail you need to find out.

Anything you are unsure about in your training, you should also try and clarify as soon as possible. If the till is confusing and you don’t know how to process a card payment, make sure you ask your supervisor to show you again. It is better you ask now for help than later when a long queue is forming. This is relevant to any problem you are unsure what to do with, whether that is a till question, a computer question or a storage one.

Also make sure you are comfortable with the role that you are given. If you applied to have a specific job but then you are given roles that you don’t think are relevant or you were not expecting to do, then make sure you bring it up to your supervisor. Maybe some clarification is needed or maybe your trainer has misunderstood what you are doing. Just because someone is senior does not mean they are all knowing, they are still fallible and capable of making mistakes.

What to do if things don’t work out

Sometimes you can try your best, but ultimately a job just doesn’t work out. This is no one’s fault. Sometimes it just isn’t for you. Ensure you have given it a fair chance, sometimes the first month can be difficult, getting used to new names and new responsibilities, so make sure you do give it a fair chance to get used to it. However, if you are uncomfortable and unhappy, first of all speak to your supervisor and see if there’s anything that can be changed so that you feel more comfortable, if your workload feels unmanageable maybe that can be lessened. If there is a specific person making you feel uncomfortable, then ensure you address this grievance with your supervisor first. It is possible that it can all be resolved by a conversation but don’t give in to quitting without trying every other avenue first.

If every avenue has been addressed and you are still not happy then make sure you hand in your notice, explaining why you have felt the need to leave. Do not think there is any time limit you need to give. To give an example, I left a job after three days once. I was not happy and after speaking to my supervisor I felt there was no alternative but to leave.

Don’t feel pressured

Ultimately when it comes to embracing your first day at a new job, make sure you walk in with your head held high and you are confident. Ask a lot of questions and check all paperwork is filled in correctly. Going in feeling the best you can be will help set the tone for the rest of your time there but be prepared to make mistakes. A new job is an exciting time and you should embrace it. Every time you start a new job, you will be more confident for the next one.

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