This is the kind of thing people have nightmares about. Brand new anchorman A.J. Clemente was rehearsing his lines for his first broadcast at a local television station. He didn’t realize the mike went live when he uttered a few choice words. You can read the story with a commentary here at Kevin Eikenberry’s blog
I have to admit: I may never have another “first day” experience ever again.
Sometimes I feel sad because I enjoyed job hunting and the first day adventure. Back then I was considered “unstable” or worse because I changed jobs every 2 years or so. Now everybody changes jobs about as often as they change their hairstyle. My neighbor changed jobs after less than 2 years and the issue of longevity never arose.
The truth is, a first day (or first week or month) can be nerve-wracking, especially if you have five, ten or more years of experience. Here are some tips to survive and even enjoy the experience – and you’ll look back on it later with a smile!
(1) Expect to be bored — or overwhelmed.
It’s been a long time since you had a “first day on the job.” Maybe you’re left alone with a stack of manuals to read. Or you’re expected to resolve a crisis, while strangers scream at each other, using jargon you don’t understand.
Both these scenarios are typical for newcomers. Neither signals a need to jump ship. Plan for ways to reduce stress and/or survive a boring day of form-filling.
(2) Be strictly professional.
Do not share any concerns or misgivings about the job. Even if your boss appears to be breaking a written employment agreement, tread carefully. The only acceptable answer to, “How’s it going?” is, “Wonderful!”
(3) Keep up your game face – everywhere.
Here’s where AJ blew it. If you are making a dual move – job plus relocation – you’re “onstage” with everyone you meet in your new community. Your next-door neighbor may be your boss’s cousin. While you’re on the companhy’s premises – even in your own car – you are ON.
(4) Assume they really wanted you.
In today’s market, your new company probably had to go to bat for you before you even arrived on board. You may never learn how you got here. Maybe you displaced a long-time employee or your boss’s rival wanted to hire someone else.
(5) Maintain old contacts and begin at once to expand your network.
Thank everyone who has helped you. Let them know that, while you are ecstatically happy, jobs can be unpredictable.
(6) Begin to build your future.
Set aside funds for your next adventure. Use your company’s resources to build skills, earn a degree and generally make yourself more marketable every day.
(7) Find a mentor who can be trusted not only to keep your story confidential, but also to challenge your beliefs and offer an experience-based perspective.
Wet blankets and cheerleaders may not be your best choices: you need objectivity.
Many people find that hiring a coach or consultant can be a wise investment at this time. If you can avoid even one angry outburst or indiscreet remark, you will save thousands of dollars by keeping your job and maintaining a “promotable” image.
Bottom Line: Your first day will be challenging and your first six months will be critical to your success. I urge everyone to keep a journal. Someday you’ll be the old-timer, welcoming the new employee, watching to see what she’s made of. You can review your entries and realize how far you’ve come.