Congratulations! You’ve successfully landed a new job. Somehow, amidst the countless resumes sent through the black hole of the Internet, networking drinks and follow-ups, you locked it in. Now comes the second trickiest part: the art of the transition.

Starting a new job is not unlike a first date. You’re confident that you can talk to another human for an hour or two; it’s the first three to four minutes that are categorized as the awkward shuffle. Arriving at the bar, looking around, identifying your subject, introducing yourself, ordering a drink, and then, sitting down and having a conversation. The anxiety is worse than the experience 98% of the time (I’m allotting 2% to the train wreck Tinder dates).

The thought of walking into a new office can produce similar feelings of anxiety. You’re confident you can get the job done, but strolling into a new work environment with new colleagues and protocol is enough to send your acute awkward shuffle phobia into hyper drive. Below are a few simple, yet effective, things to remember as you transition into your new role without any of the “should we split the bill?” work anxiety.

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They hired you as an expert.
Think of this as your job security. While you’ll still be subject to a probationary period, do not let your confidence waver at the first roadblock, question, or inevitable mistake. You are not being judged so much by these blips, as much as by the way you problem-solve when you encounter them.

Before you accept, ask the questions.
You hear this piece of advice all the time, but really get down to brass tacks and get over any self-doubt that you’ll come across like a teacher’s pet. You need to be as confident as you can be going into a new position, which requires being confident that you know the nitty gritty details. How do you accrue vacation time? How much vacation time rolls over at the end of the year? How many reviews do you have per year? What level of job security is there? What does that specific clause in the NDA you just signed actually mean? Will they be providing you with a computer and the programs necessary to do your job? Make a list of questions and ask to speak to HR or the hiring manager regarding these specifics before signing an offer letter.

After you accept, ask the operational questions that apply only once you’ve accepted.
Is there parking? What’s the protocol for printing assets or using company materials? How do client expenses work? Who should you check in with when you arrive on your first day? Lunch is also a big one. Know how your company spends its lunch hour and find a way to maximize your time.

Confirm with HR if they will be sending an email to the company announcing your new position and start date.
If not, be sure to send a personal email to your new team (or company, if it’s small enough). Be professional, but keep it casual. These are real humans that you’ll be working with! They know you already have the professional chops to land the job, no need to keep things too formal.

Once you’re settling into your first week, take note of your new coworkers’ interests and likes.
Shoot them an email with relevant, newsworthy content when it comes up. Something so simple can spark great dialogue and forms a quicker bond. Those same people will be more apt to help you in a pickle in the future if they know that you have their best interest at heart.

Send the new contact email.
You’ve made a lot of valuable connections to get to this point, so don’t leave them hanging. Updating your position on LinkedIn isn’t good enough. Send a brief email to your contact list letting them know about your new position and if applicable, the clients you’ll be working with. If you haven’t actually built a contact list, take two steps back and start there.

Over deliver.
Things are not due. If you have free time, develop some assets or systems that could be useful to your internal team and/or your client.  Your diligence in the first few weeks will be noticed.

Maintain your side projects.
This is what makes you, you. Your hobbies and creative ventures are a contributing factor to why you were hired; so don’t stop the side hustle!

Send articles to the team.
Bounce ideas off your immediate superior. Undoubtedly, your industry is a changing landscape, show that you are keeping up with the trends and adjusting your work accordingly.

Schedule your new life.
Your work routine will have a waterfall effect on your everyday life, slowly impacting your existing routines. If you are now facing two hours of commuting a day, prepare how you are going to maximize your time spent in the car, AKA breakfast to go and a podcast. If your hours have changed, plan your gym time accordingly, etc.

At the end of day, remember that your career journey is 100% unique to you. No list will encapsulate all of the feelings or to-dos that coincide with this transition. The key for women, and excuse the cliché, is confidence. New scientific research is emerging that continues to expand on the “confidence gap” between men and women in the workplace, and in turn, the stagnant effect a lack of confidence can have on women’s careers. In the post-Lean In era, women are being told to take risks, learn from failure and to speak up. These exercises change and progress the way you think about yourself, and in return, they increase your confidence, which plays an instrumental role in your career growth. Richard Petty, a psychology professor at The Ohio State University, sums up this beautifully complex simplicity in a powerful way:

Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action.

What are your tips for starting a new job?

Image via Elizabeth Koehler



  1. I am starting a new job on Monday July 21, 2014. I am always concerned with the dress code. For the first week I will wear suits also. however I like to wear big heels I always have. I am 57 years old that looks like a 45 year old and I like wearing very highhhhh heels sometimes even up to 5 inches (thats the highest) Should I wear a lower heel like Nine West 3.5 inch heels until I get the feel of the other girls dressing or would it be appropriate to wear my usual dress high heel stilleto looking shoes. They are not bar looking shoies very classy shoes with a pointed toe just higher in heel that the average 4 inch or 3.5. At my other job I always told the girls to “Check the Blouse before leaving the House” for either being to low or showing way to much cleavage.

    thanks anna

  2. Just landed a new job and I start June 22. Thanks for these tips! Will definitely be referring to this article to make sure I’m on que 🙂

  3. Great Article!
    Umm, Dana Kelly is the best in the business. Listen up!
    So Sayeth the Cats

  4. – Be on time (or even early) on the first day. There will be lots to do and it’s always better to get a jump start.
    – Leave your office door open. This invites people to stop by and to talk, it helps give the impression that you are approachable.
    – Dress for success. This one almost goes without saying, but until you really get a feel for the environment, you can’t really be overdressed. If you’re not sure whether to go business casual or wear a full suit, compromise by wearing a pretty dress with a structured jacket over the top. Wear heels.
    – For a kick of extra confidence, wear a bold lipstick.
    – Make sure you take a lunch. We all need a break and this will help to establish healthy boundaries.

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