Don’t overdo it at your new job

This week, my posts have been all about some of the final steps in landing and accepting a new job. Let’s say you’re one of those lucky ducks and you have accepted a new job. One of the things I see fellow academics lean head first into right after that is trying to learn all. of. the. things. about the new job.

That’s only natural. You’re excited about the new job and highly motivated to learn what you need to know. And if you’re here, you’re probably an academic. Academics are, by nature, curious creatures, and our quest for knowledge never ends. But you probably need to remember a couple of things  here.

Stay confident

A lot of times, I watch the women I coach go through some version of “Oh God, what did I get myself into now?” when they have accepted a new job. There’s an element of panic – as if they are afraid that once they start, the team will be disappointed in them, underwhelmed by their skills and knowledge. Sometimes they even think that they were chosen because, despite their efforts to present themselves honestly during the interviews, they somehow oversold their experience or background.

Even if that were the case (and I REALLY hope it’s not!), I bet there are a bunch of reasons they chose you for the job. When I’m hiring, I’m not looking for who already knows the things, but more whose personality makes a good fit,  how they’ll fit together with the team, and what they can teach us. So when your confidence starts to slump, 1- that’s normal and 2-just remember to ignore any impostor syndrome.

Limit your info gathering

Another common phase I see a lot of people go through is to try to learn everything they can either before they start or in the early weeks. This, too, is only natural. But don’t let it become your time-suck! I see a lot of people dive deep into any and everything they can find about the workplace, the job, the software, the project – whatever it is, rather than letting your learning take place slowly, over time.

Whether you have the tendency to do this during your free time or during your work time, be sure to balance your learning with doing. If you find yourself curling up night after night with industry reports instead of that novel you’re dying to read? Know that learning and reading on the new job, at the job, is part of your new job, not stuff they expect you to do in your spare time.

But similarly, if you’re spending all of your time in your first few weeks at your new job reading up on the work they do in an attempt to learn it all instead of…well, starting to do some of that work, you’ll be pulling some long hours when you’re up against a deadline soon enough.

Quell that impostor syndrome

No hiring manager expects you to come in already knowing your new job. Even if you already know the process, software, industry, tasks, or role pretty well, they still need to train you and onboard you to how *they want the things done*. So while it’s okay to be nervous wand want to make a great first impression, rest assured that they didn’t hire you because they think you already know their job. They hired you because they’re confident you are capable of learning how to do the job.

As an academic, you are naturally curious, smart, and resourceful. So even if you’re feeling like you’re about to get in over your head, you’re not. You have the skills that will propel you forward. You’re smart, you got this!


And finally, at your new job, resist the temptation to come in early and / or stay late to make yourself look good and committed. They hired you, they trust you. But you also need you time, so go see your friends, your family, your loved ones. Go home and watch that movie you’ve had in your queue. Just remember to relax. Starting a new job, joining a new organization, or embarking into a new industry – any one of those can be overwhelming. Even if your first few weeks seem easy because they haven’t handed off a bunch of projects to you yet, soon enough you’ll find yourself with more than enough work at your desk. So get in the habit now of arriving on time, using your breaks, and leaving on time. You’re signaling to yourself that your stuff matters too, and by the time you have big huge projects, you’ll be more steady on your feet and better equipped to handle them during work hours.

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