February 16, 2021

The first month – Tips for settling into a new IT role

10 min read

Securing a new job is exciting and worth celebrating. You’ve been chosen out of many candidates as the best fit for the role. Once the start date is lined up and contract signed, you’ll likely start to think about that first day, week and month.

While we might not consciously acknowledge it, the stress of learning new skills, meeting people, and working out dynamics of a workplace can be draining – even if we’re ultimately positive about our new position.

In this article we’ll look at the first month settling into a tech role in NZ. We’ve pulled together some advice to help you reduce stress and feel more comfortable in this new workplace.

Learn about the workplace and people ahead of starting

Often you’ll have a lead up to your first day – it might be a week or even a few months. In any case, we’d suggest you do some homework before starting. It’s likely you’ll have learned a few things during the interview process, but now you’re a future employee you should be able to get more detailed info such as the organisation structure, who your immediate team is, and the company vision.

Don’t be afraid to ask your future manager for any reading that might help you get up to speed. Beyond this, you may want to try and meet up with future team mates for a coffee ahead of starting. Team mates can give you the inside scoop on how the business runs and provide invaluable tips for settling in easier.  Many businesses have teamwide comms via email, so getting sent these can also help you build a picture of what’s going on.

Just remember that you’re not getting paid for any of this time, so you won’t be expected to do anything, and certainly not get onboarded to work you will be doing. This familiarisation should be for your benefit to reduce stress when you do start.

Get plenty of sleep

That first day and first week can feel a bit like information overload. The mental strain to think about new work and new people is going to take it out of you. That’s why full nights of sleep are essential – your brain will struggle to retain information and cope with stress if you’re not properly rested.

If you’re the social outing type, you may wish to ensure late nights are kept to a minimum. Of course going out with friends can be a great way to relieve some stress of a new job, but the last thing you want is to be hungover and tired in unfamiliar surroundings – so just go easy!

You might wish to keep weeknights relatively calm, especially in week one. As you settle into things more you will find it less tiring to maintain socialising and the role.

Set expectations and ask questions

As the new person, you are not just allowed to ask ‘dumb’ questions, but it’ll be expected. The truth is, questions in the workplace are always encouraged – it’s how businesses help their people learn and improve. As a new recruit, you should ask questions about work, company, people and operational processes.

Having information about these things will help you settle in much faster than waiting to figure it out on your own. You don’t have to wait to ask your manager either – for some topics, coworkers can actually give you more insight than management may be able to.

Setting expectations is one of the best ways to ensure you don’t get overworked. It may be tempting to show willing and say ‘yes’ to everything, but you need to be honest with yourself and the business as to what you’re able to take on. If you have knowledge gaps make sure you identify this – the hiring manager will know about these from the interview process, but others in the business may not.

It’s totally okay for you to ask for breathing room to properly learn the ropes. Push back on the business if you feel your workload isn’t allowing you to settle in and be your best. Employers will often appreciate feedback and adjust things accordingly.

Introduce yourself to as many workmates as possible

This can be a bit tough for the introverts among us, but making an effort to introduce yourself to everyone you meet at work is perhaps one of the best ways to fast track your comfort within the new business. Remember, there may be some people at your new work who themselves are shy – if you initiate a friendly greeting and handshake, you will avoid awkward silences in the staff room.

You shouldn’t be short of small talk – your name, role and where you’ve come from should be sufficient to start. If you make the effort now, your interaction when working together eventually will be much more relaxed.

The more people you have had conversations with, the better understanding of the company dynamics you’ll have. You never know the tidbits you could gather during these introductions.

Watch and listen

This part isn’t so tough for introverts – but may be for extroverts! Sometimes it can be tempting to make sure everyone knows you are a valuable new addition to the team by sharing past work history and achievements. This is okay, to a point. But remember in a New Zealand workplace, most will be reserved and respond better to humility.

To help connect with your new team and workplace, we’d suggest consciously observing in meetings, team wide activities, work habits and other business functions in action. Don’t feel bad about staying quiet and learning for the first few months. If you’re worried about being perceived as too quiet, just have a few questions at the ready to ask.

Look to find out:

  • How are meetings usually run?
  • What are the biggest challenges facing the business?
  • How are decisions made?
  • What’s the company culture and social life like?
  • Who can I go to with questions – who will I click with?
  • How is work conducted – do I understand the processes?
  • Are there concepts I don’t understand and need training on?

Keep a notebook handy and jot down observations and questions. Even if you don’t raise all of these, it will be useful to reflect on throughout the first 30 days.

Put in some realistic goals with your manager

KPIs and goals are often part of a job role, but the specifics of these will likely be something you dive into properly after starting. Performance in a role is something that you as the staff member should take an active role in. Don’t wait for your manager to do all the evaluation. Straight away you want to begin an open-ended, productive discussion about your work goals, targets and career roadmap. This makes sure that you are invested and capable of achieving in your role. If you feel your manager has not considered factors that could make achieving KPIs tricky, it’s important you raise this and work together on alternatives.

You will have been hired based on your abilities so you will likely be adding value from day one. But until you’ve got a handle on the business and done your observation, you won’t be flying at 100% straight away.

End of month 1 goals should usually be associated with settling in, familiarisation, onboarding to work. Discuss with your manager how you can break larger goals down into achievable actions.

The main thing to remember with KPIs and goals is to not let the conversation go quiet for months – otherwise you could end up with unrealistic expectations from your manager when it comes to performance reviews.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to be amazing straight away

Many new employees put high expectations on themselves to prove their hiring was a good decision. This can lead to working ourselves into the ground and burning out – which is a serious issue. Taking on too much work or trying to solve complex business issues alone can actually prevent you from settling into a company in the right way.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t look to add value from day one – but rather a warning to not pile more stress onto your already full plate.

Setting expectations as we’ve discussed isn’t just for the company but for your own stress management. Focus on connecting with people and understanding the business first, then gradually build up your workload.

The pressure we put on ourselves also impacts how we handle making mistakes.  Your new employer has hired you knowing what you bring to the table. If you make a mistake or don’t know something, this is not a reflection on your ability to do the job as a whole. Thinking otherwise is just unhelpful – stay positive and treat any gaps in knowledge as learning opportunities!

Participate in company social activity

Much like introducing yourself to everyone helps break the ice, company social activities are a great way for you to learn more about your workmates, and vice versa.

Social activities that companies will often have include:

  • After work drinks
  • Corporate sports teams (indoor football)
  • Gym/running/walking clubs
  • Lunch time (out or in the staff room)
  • Team building activity
  • Team away days
  • Cultural events

You don’t need to necessarily attend and join everything, but in that first month showing some willing to be part of the team will go a long way to making work friends.  The better we get along with our workmates outside of our actual job, the easier we collaborate on work.

Find some work buddies

Having friends at work makes an incredible difference to how we enjoy our job. In this first month of observing and learning, you’ll figure out some of the people that you may click with the best. Having a few people who have your back can make you feel less alone in that first month or so of starting the job.

You spend at least 40 hours a week travelling to/from and working at a job. So we strongly believe that enjoying going to work is something everyone should aim for. If you look forward to seeing your workmates at a job, it’s much easier to get through any stressful periods. Employers love tight-knit teams as they typically do better work, and stay there for a long tenure.

Keep talking to family and friends outside of work

While a new job can feel all-encompassing, you should make the effort to keep up communication with those close to you. They will be there to support you with challenges or take your mind off the job altogether. Nothing like our loved ones to give us some perspective.

If you have friends from your old job, it can be a good idea to catch up and hear how things are getting on. A common reaction straight after starting a new job can be regret in moving – after all we were likely settled into a groove in our old workplace. Catching up with old workmates can be a useful reminder on why you moved in the first place – chances are they’re still dealing with issues that you were happy to leave behind. And know that the alien feeling of your new job will go away with time!

Want to chat about finding a new job?

Are you in the process of looking for a new job? Our team can help you with the job hunt but also provide valuable advice on how to get settled into a new role. Why not get in touch now or browse our IT jobs currently live on the website.

Further reading

We’ve collated a number of quality new job advice from around the web:

Absolute IT