Being the new kid on the block can be daunting. While it’s exciting to start a new job, it can be a little overwhelming when everything and everyone is new to you. Whether it’s your first day, first month or first year in a new position, our top tips are here to help you settle in and find your feet.

Ask questions

When you’re starting a new job, you’re going to have questions. This is the perfect time to ask as many as you need in order to get your head around your new role. Your manager and new colleagues will expect this, so never feel bad about having lots of questions when you’re new.

For experienced staff who’ve been working for an organisation for a while, it can be easy to forget the things that might not be so obvious to a new starter. It’s always better to ask than assume when you’re new – there’s no such thing as a silly question!

Observe your surroundings:

By nature, humans like to conform to their surroundings – aka “fitting in”. When you’re new, pay attention to how your colleagues dress, how they communicate with each other and what the protocols are for things like eating at your desk, dealing with dishes and sharing the facilities. Becoming a human sponge and being aware of what’s going on around you can help you assimilate faster and feel more settled.

Most organisations will have an established list of rules or protocols to follow, but then of course there’s the unspoken ones that absolutely every workplace has, but probably won’t tell you about – until you accidentally break one!

This isn’t to say that you need to change who you are or ignore your intuition – new input is always valued. However, before you start trying to change things, it’s a good idea to observe your surroundings first and build a better idea of why things are being done the way they are, before you start offering up suggestions for improvement.

Know your learning style:

Are you a visual person who needs to see something done in front of you, do you like to follow written instructions or take notes as you go, or are you a tactile learner who figures things out by giving it a go. Knowing the learning style that suits you best, and then communicating that to your new employer, will help set you off on the right path. Otago University has pulled together some handy resources to help you determine the learning style that fits you best.

Be open to new things:

Don’t get too stuck in your ways. While you’ll likely have your own way of going about tasks, starting a new job is a great opportunity to be introduced to other ways of achieving the same goals. Rather than going in with a mindset of “this is how I do things”, be flexible and adaptable in your approach to learning your new role. Once you’re settled into your role, then by all means go about your work the way you see best. But when you’re new, it’s always good to be open to new ideas.

Start out how you intend to continue:

Staying late, arriving early, going over and above, saying yes to everything – it can be tempting to really push yourself when you’re new in a bid to impress your new team. But if you can’t sustain that level of work or commitment long term, you’re likely setting yourself up for failure. Of course we’re not saying you shouldn’t try to impress, but rather, you need to be realistic about your capacity and your own wellbeing. Don’t burn yourself out before you’ve even begun. Feel comfortable saying no, asking for help, or seeking more clarification when you need to.

Be patient with yourself

Give yourself some grace as you settle into your new role. Learning new things and picking up new systems takes time and chances are you won’t get everything right straight away. Be kind to yourself and know that it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit overwhelmed when you’re new to a job. Your first day and first week will no doubt be a blur, it might feel like you’ll never get the hang of this, but keep in mind that you’ve learned millions of new things to get to where you are today, and you’ll learn a million more.

What if you’re struggling?

Sometimes despite your best efforts, settling into a new job just doesn’t quite go as planned. While it’s important to give yourself time, if either the role itself or the work environment is just not gelling with you, it’s important that you talk about your feelings with your manager. While the conversation might feel a bit daunting or scary, it’s in your best interests to be honest about your situation. That might mean coming to the realisation that perhaps this isn’t the right job for you, which is totally fine and happens maybe more than you think. Or it could result in some changes or improvements that resolve the issue. Either way, if you’re struggling to settle into your new role, it’s best to be honest with the people that can help, such as your manager or supervisor.

It’s always a good idea to…

  • Bring a notebook – so that you can jot things down as you go
  • Introduce yourself – come across someone new? Say hi!
  • Familiarise yourself with the facilities and emergency procedures
  • Ask as many questions as you can!

Good luck,
Kirsty and Nikki

Interviewing Neurodiverse Candidates