With the unemployment rate at a super low 4 percent, many people who haven’t been able to find jobs are going back to work. If you’ve been unemployed for a long stretch of time, you too may be headed back into the workforce. And, if you’ve been out of work for a significant amount of time, you may be feeling a mix of emotions about this next step.
It’s normal to feel a heady mix of relief and anxiety (as well as excitement and fear) when you’re heading back into a job after an extended period of unemployment. To soothe your nerves and allay your fears, we’ve come up with a list of 6 tips for easing your way back into a job.
1. Adopt work-friendly habits in advance
One of the perks of being unemployed is the ability to eat, sleep, and socialize whenever you feel like it. Once you have a job, however, you’ll have to adhere to a schedule, which can be a major shock to the system.
To soften the blow, once you get your job offer, do your best to start getting back into a schedule that lines up with what your work schedule will be.
Start eating regular meals, adjust your workout schedule, and start going to sleep and waking up at times that will line up with your new work schedule.
2. Pare down your outside obligations
If you’ve been unemployed for a really long time, your mind might be slightly blown by how tired you are in the first few weeks of your new job. Your body will be adjusting to a new schedule and your mind will be spinning with all of the new things you are learning.
So, at least for a little while, take it easy on making plans during your workweek. Whenever possible, plan to pare down your weekday social activities to the bare minimum. Don’t underestimate how tiring it can be to get back into a routine. Remember it’s only temporary. Within a few weeks you’ll be on solid ground at work and will have more stamina for socializing.
3. Be humble
Once you begin your new job, remember that it’s okay to be the rookie. Ease into your role in the beginning.
Set realistic goals for yourself and don’t try to do it all or learn it all in your first week. Enthusiasm is a great quality at work but give yourself some time to be an observer of your colleagues and your environment so that you can learn the flow of things.
4. Don’t be a know-it-all
Long periods of unemployment can create insecurity in people and light a fire under them to burst through the door of a new job ready to prove themselves. But taking the place by storm might not be the best approach.
Remember, you were hired because you have the right skill set. So instead of walking through the door, ready to start taking names and kicking butt, take a deep breath and give yourself permission to start slowly. Ask a lot of questions, and admit that you have a lot of learning to do. This will not only take some pressure off of you but being humble about your knowledge will put your coworkers at ease.
5. Get to know your coworkers
Making a friend at work is a great way to begin to settle into a new job. For one, having someone who is available to answer questions large and small will help you feel a little less lost.
From simple things like, “Where is the printer?” to more complicated questions like, “Which health plan did you choose?” a coworker will help you get oriented far faster than trying to muddle through alone.
Also, if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, you may already feel slightly out of place in your new job. Making friends with your teammates or colleagues will ensure you’ll have someone to have coffee or lunch with, which will alleviate the anxiety of being the new kid in the cafeteria with no one to sit with.
6. Let your boss be the boss
If you have gone back to work in a different field, or have taken a less-senior role in your industry, you’ll have to adjust to your new circumstances. So, while you may have been at the top of the totem pole in your last job, someone else is chief now. It’s okay to share your experience but remember that you aren’t the boss anymore. Let your supervisor do his or her job without having a chip on your shoulder about your current job title.