After graduating from college with a fairly broad degree, I quickly realized that my skill set for starting a new job wasn’t as specialized as I had hoped it would be. I knew that I was more than capable of learning new tasks, I just needed someone to take a chance and give me the kind of on-the-job training that would get me to the next level.
Unfortunately, the majority of companies I applied to just weren’t interested in hiring someone that wasn’t already proficient at using various computer programs or completing certain tasks, so I became accustomed to rejection.
Then, by luck or some other miracle, I received the job offer I had been waiting for. I spent the next few days celebrating the accomplishment and then, as I sat through orientation after orientation, I realized that I would need to soak up a significant amount of technical knowledge to be successful at this new job.
I knew that I would have to fake it until I was able to settle in completely and really showcase my abilities. The last thing I wanted was to show my new employer that they had made a mistake in hiring me.
Starting a new job can be a massive challenge, especially when what is required of you is different from anything you’re used to, or when you’re jumping into an entirely new career. But the personal and professional growth offered by trying something new is substantial and certainly worth seeing through to the end.
Here are four ways you can push through the acclimation process and get up to speed at your new job.
1. Be Straightforward About Your Current Skills
If your boss hands you a task you aren’t able to complete, be honest about it from the get-go (this is where honesty on your resume comes in handy).
Trying to take on more than you can handle from the beginning will likely mean that you turn in less-than-impressive work, or that you spend a disproportionate amount of time working on one task — either way, you won’t be putting your best foot forward.
Let your employer know what kind of training you need so that you can gradually increase your knowledge base and learn the correct way to handle certain assignments. This will keep you from cleaning up embarrassing messes later on.
Which brings us to …
2. Ask Questions, Then Ask More Questions
You might think that asking questions shows a lack of knowledge, but, more importantly, it shows that you are thoughtful and interested in completing every task to your best ability and to your employer’s specifications.
If you avoid asking questions, not only will you probably make some costly mistakes, but it could make the acclimation process significantly harder for you to manage. After all, there’s nothing worse than sitting at your desk racking your brain for an answer, all while increasing your anxiety and wasting time.
So if you’re even slightly unsure, take a deep breath and then ask. In reality, most people are more than willing to help.
3. Seek Out Other Employees You Feel Comfortable Around
Do you remember the first day of school, when you felt like crawling into a hole until that one person came up and said hello?
You might be slightly older, but the feeling of comfort you get when someone takes you under their wing is the same whether you are 5 or 50. So try to feel out your fellow employees when starting a new job, and do your best to forge relationships.
If you feel more comfortable in your environment, you are far more likely to be a successful employee. In addition, it can be extremely helpful to have someone in the know that you can turn to for help — especially if you would rather not turn to your boss.
4. Hold On to Your Confidence Like Your Life Depends On It
There is nothing that hinders your success at a new job like a lack of confidence. You might not know the ins and outs quite yet, but getting a grasp of the logistics is simply a matter of time.
You were hired for a reason — a quality or skill set that you already possess — so put that on display instead of your insecurity about being able to correctly complete the task at hand.
Until you know exactly what you’re doing, use your confidence to attract positive attention.
Diving in to a challenging new job is no small feat, but the payoff is far greater than forever staying where you feel most comfortable. In fact, it’s only in challenging ourselves that we are able to grow the most, personally and professionally.
What are your tips for finding your footing when starting a new job?
My #1 tip, focus really hard on learning everyone’s name early. Works well and endears you to your new colleagues.