Posted On: November 15, 2019
2019 has been huge for the Starkloff Career Academy: 21 hard-working candidates have started jobs this year. Some found exactly what they were looking for while others took the first steps towards their ultimate career goals.
But getting the job offer is only the first step. Navigating the first weeks on the job can be extremely nerve-wracking, especially if it’s your first professional job or you’re finishing a particularly stressful job hunt. To help you out, we’ve identified three of the most common concerns we’ve heard from candidates who are struggling in their first weeks on the job.
“I don’t know everything I need to know.”
You’ve been on the job for a week, and all you’ve learned so far is how much you don’t yet know. It’s the end of the day on Friday, you look down at your incomplete to-do list, and you think, “There’s no way I can learn all this. I’m completely unqualified.”
Your expectations and the employer’s expectations are probably very different. When you were hired, it was likely with the assumption that you would take three to six months to fully acclimate to your new role. You aren’t learning your job duties in a vacuum after all. Every company, department and team has its own unique culture and way of doing things that you’ll need time to learn.
During the job interview, ask questions about the training process and the employer’s expectation starting out. You can also get this information from your supervisor after you’ve started. The more you know about the training process and employer’s expectations, the easier you can be on yourself.
“I shouldn’t ask for help.”
This is an especially common concern for people with disabilities. You need help with an assignment, but you’re afraid of bugging your boss with too many questions. Or you need an accommodation, but you don’t want to get “special treatment.” Or you fear asking for too much too early will hurt your long-term prospects.
Despite the horror stories you may hear, our experience has been that the vast majority of candidates who request accommodations get what they need. The average cost of a workplace accommodation is less than $500, a fraction of the cost a company pays in onboarding, training and equipping a new employee. There are also resources available to help cover the cost of accommodations, including state vocational offices and assistive technology programs.
As you’re starting out, keep your training materials organized and within easy reach, and take plenty of notes. Remember that your supervisor would rather you ask questions than make guesses. The only time supervisors get sick of answering questions is when they have to answer the same questions multiple times.
“I’m going to be doing this forever.”
You’ve had this job for a few weeks, and things aren’t as exciting as you were hoping they would be. The tasks are boring, monotonous or irrelevant and you worry this is your life from now on.
First of all, if you’re brand-new in an industry, understand that companies need to see you master the small decisions before they’ll let you make big ones. Everyone has to start somewhere, and by being familiar with the day-to-day minutia of the job, you’ll be a better decision-maker down the line.
We also see this concern rear its head when candidates take jobs out of fear of a large gap in work history, lack of familiarity with the job or simple financial necessity. It seems implied that once you take a job, you have to commit to it, but this isn’t really the case.
Most employers have a probationary period so they can see how well you work, but this period also gives you the opportunity to see how the employer works. If the job isn’t what you thought, future employers will understand if you decide to leave it. Jobs that are only one- or two-months long don’t even need to be on your resumé unless they’re relevant or you have a work history gap greater than six months.
If you have to take a job to make ends meet, understand what your priorities are. Everyone has a point in their life when they have to compromise on their long-term goals to meet short-term necessities. Use your time at work to learn new, transferable skills. Seek out special projects and network with your co-workers. You may look back and see that your six-month contract job was exactly what you needed to get your career back on track.
If you’re stressing out during your first few weeks of work, remind yourself that the employer spent a lot of time, energy and money hiring you. They’ve made a big investment, and that investment includes an assumption that you’re going to take some time and training before you’ve mastered the job. It also means they’re willing to help you be successful in whatever way they can.
Remember that no one gets a job out of pity. You earned this position, and a lot of people have faith that you’ll be good at it. Allow yourself to use the time and resources available. If the job isn’t what you thought it would be, give yourself permission to move on. Just because you accept a job doesn’t mean you’ll be doing it forever.