young people share their top tips for: starting a new job

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Congratulations on getting the job!

To help you to prepare, we asked some young people who have recently started new jobs to share some of their tips on how to get the most out of your first week and create some good work habits.

Nobody expects you to remember all the little details straight away

My number 1 tip is to always remember to not be too hard on yourself. In your first week, your manager will likely introduce you to lots of different people, processes, and policies, etc. This can seem overwhelming but remember that nobody expects you to remember all the little details straight away. Having a little notebook with you can be a handy way to write these things down so that you can check back later. It’s also more than OK to ask someone for help if you can’t remember something.

My second top tip is to try to set yourself some clear boundaries. You’ll be spending a lot of time at your new workplace, so it’s a good idea to create some healthy habits at work, and what better time to start than at the beginning. Some examples include; taking your lunch break and not checking work emails outside of work time. It’s a good idea to get some space away from your work so that you can enjoy all the other wonderful things about life too!

Don’t forget to take…

Some things to decorate your workspace to make it feel like yours (if you have a dedicated space). It’s easy to feel out of place when you start a new job, but some little personal items can make it a whole lot more comfy – whether that be a plant, a photo of family/friends or your fave coffee mug.

- Rachaelheadspace National Youth Reference Group Member

Set realistic expectations and celebrate small wins

When I started in my first full-time role, I was prone to sometimes thinking that I had to be as knowledgeable and skilled as my colleagues. I think it’s important to have high expectations of yourself and have the drive to want to do well, but I find it can be unhelpful to hold myself to unrealistic standards because attempting to reach these standards and ‘failing’, can result in burn-out and a negative view of yourself.  

To challenge any unhelpful expectations, I find it important to first become aware of them and reflect on whether they are helpful. If they aren’t helpful I come up with ways to challenge or reframe my expectations. For me, acknowledging that I was a beginner and that I had a supportive space to grow and learn made the first few days and weeks in a new role easier. 

I also find it helpful to celebrate the small wins when you start a new job! Rather than just focusing on what needs improvement, acknowledging my achievements help me stay motivated and feel more settled. This is where I find asking for feedback from your supervisor or even recording any positive comments can be so valuable.   

Don’t forget to take…

A break! Your first day can be a stressful time, so it’s important to find a moment during the day to breathe.

- Peter, headspace staff member

You were hired for a reason, you deserve the opportunity

As someone who is very shy, starting a new job and delving into a foreign environment can be really stressful for me. With 101 thoughts running through my head at any one second and constantly feeling like I am undeserving of the opportunity, it’s a wonder I turned up to any of my first days at work.

But here I am - 5 jobs later - learning to embrace my discomfort (and maybe even grow from it). I’ve realised three things that help me to calm myself when my inner critic tells me I don't belong there, like I am an imposter.

  1. You are not supposed to know everything (or sometimes anything). They hired you for a reason - because they know you have the skills it takes to do the job well.

  2. You will make friends! Just give it time.

  3. Finally, I encourage you to ask questions about things you don’t know or understand. This will save you making mistakes down the track (but remember making mistakes is OK).

It’s natural to feel nervous or like an imposter some of the time. Chances are most of the people at your new job have felt like this at one point or another.

Have faith in your abilities! You got this!

Don’t forget to take…

A positive mindset and can-do attitude!

- Maddi, headspace Online Peer Support Moderator

Plan for your first day and ask lots of questions

One of the toughest things when heading out on my first day(s) was the uncertainty! I wasn’t too sure what it would be like – whether I could heat up food, whether I would get there in time… the list goes on. If you feel like you’re in the same boat, these two things help me:

  1. Asking questions - I always like to ask my manager before starting to clarify the questions on my mind - what I need to bring, what facilities are available to use and other important things like what to wear. If you’re lucky you might be able to head into your workplace for a tour or an in-person meeting before your actual first day!

  2. Creating a plan – How will I get there? When do I need to leave home to get there on time or even 15 minutes early? I also like to have a lunch box with my meals prepped or get my outfit out the night before to make sure I’m ready to go.

Remember to plan something to unwind when you get home too!

Don’t forget to take…

Lunch, snacks, and a water bottle! Keeping hydrated and fuelled across your first day is super important and sets you up to put your best foot forward.

- Jasmine, headspace National Youth Reference Group Member

Don’t forget to take breaks!

I find it helpful to take lots of little breaks as it helps me to stay calm, focused and not get overwhelmed by all the new information. This might look like going for a quick walk to get some fresh air, grabbing a quick drink or taking a few minutes to go to the toilet. However, if you’re like me, asking for a break on your first day is challenging, it can feel like you’re giving off a bad first impression, but I assure you you’re not. It’s OK to take a break, your manager won’t mind, and I find I feel much more refreshed, ready to meet new people and take in more information.

Don’t forget to take…

A reminder of why you want this job, things you will enjoy and things you are excited about.

- Zoe, headspace Online Peer Support Moderator

Remember, work is only a part of who we are

Starting a new job can take up a lot of energy, and if you're like me you might even be thinking about work when you’re not even at work, particularly in the first few weeks of starting. I find that by reminding myself that work is only a part of who I am and that I have a life outside of work really helps me to keep things in perspective. Booking in social events in advance like seeing my family for dinner, watching my friend’s soccer game, going to the gym, or cooking a yummy meal help me to stay balanced and maintain strong boundaries. This helps me to feel more excited about the new job and ready to learn.

Don’t forget to take…

Your calendar/diary! This way you avoid overcommitting yourself by saying 'yes' to everything in the moment and ensuring you're still making time for the other things in life.

- Grace, headspace National Youth Reference Group Member

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Last reviewed 17 December 2021.

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