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‘top tips for new starters’ was easily my most searched phrase in 2021. Whilst preparing for my first step into the world of work, I was constantly looking for advice and guidance to help me not feel quite so terrified.

I made myself promise that when I had made it through the awkward ‘new starter’ phase, I would come back and write my own set of helpful pointers for other initiates out there.

So here it is, Molly’s Top Tips for New Starters:


1. Be honest in interviews

Look, it’s tempting; we all want to blur the lines and fudge the numbers to look better, but the truth is that it doesn’t do you any favours.

Employers want your honesty. If you’ve done no relevant work, say that. If you’ve got loads of experience, great! Brag about it, tell them how amazing you are. But don’t overexaggerate, you will only be setting yourself up for failure further down the line.

On that note, be honest about who you are. One thing I’ve learnt about interviews, is that it’s not just about who you are as a worker, but who you are as a person. You need to fit well in the office culture, so relax and show them how wonderful you are.

Take my interview; if I recall correctly I was very open about how nervous I was. It didn’t come off as embarrassing or unprofessional. If anything, it broke the ice.

Just, as the cliché goes, be yourself. You’re great.


2. Buy Comfortable Office Clothes

When it comes to shopping for your office wardrobe, it’s great to think about high heels and blazers. But, as heart-breaking as it is, that’s not what you need.

Try to remember that these are clothes you have to wear ALL DAY. 9 hours. Do you want to wear stilettos and a pencil skirt for 9 hours? (the answer is no).

Consider some slightly over-sized shirts, cardigans, trousers, jumpers, looser skirts, anything that gives you room to breathe. According to studies highlighted by Hive, 61% of employees are more productive when the dress code is relaxed. So, try to find that balance between professionalism and comfort. I promise you’ll thank me for it later.


3. Decorate your desk

There are two places you spend your most time:

  1. Your bed
  2. Your desk

So, decorate to your heart’s content! Add plants, a personalised calendar, coasters with your initials, pictures of your family.

Make this a space that you are happy to spend the working week at.

Mine, for example, has plants, pictures, calendars, origami, colour coded folders, notes stuck to the wall. My favourite thing is a collage of nice emails from clients. ‘Spot on!’ ‘Very nice indeed’, it all helps on days when you want to scream at your monitor.

(and a bonus top tip from me – have a fan on your desk. Mine was £5 from Dunelm. It’s a life saver in summer.)


4. Have a good sleeping pattern

I’m fully aware that TikTok is extremely addictive. But put your phone down at 10pm, and sleep. Nothing’s worse than dragging yourself around the office all day.

Having a lack of sleep is known to make you less productive, alert, decisive, and most importantly, healthy. You need to sleep!

Try practicing a routine. It takes 26 days to make a habit, so train yourself to put your phone down at a reasonable time and eventually falling asleep will be easier.

If you’re still struggling, there are other things you can do to encourage sleep. Limit your caffeine intake after lunchtime, don’t nap, do some physical exercise every day.

For further ideas, take a look at what Healthline suggests for a good sleeping pattern.


5. Ask stupid questions

No, I don’t mean the cliché ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question’. There absolutely are stupid questions. But ask them anyway because it’s better to ask than to make a mistake. (but mistakes are okay too, don’t forget).

If you don’t know how to mute yourself on a team’s call, for example, it’s much more beneficial to ask someone on chat than to accidentally start playing a video out loud when you’re supposed to be listening.

And don’t forget – we’ve all been there! Everyone starts from somewhere, and as a new starter, it’s completely okay to ask things. You’re still learning, and that’s alright.


6. Take stuff on the chin

There will always be mistakes, no matter what point of your career you’re at. CEOs with 50 years of experience are still making errors.

Just brush yourself off, handle any repercussions, apologise, and try to correct yourself in the future to prevent it happening again.

If you do have an off day, or you just make an honest mistake, it is honestly okay. And it’s also okay to be upset that you did. We all feel guilty when we mess up, it’s just important that you don’t let it ruin your outlook.

Your career isn’t going to be over; I promise.


7. Find your way of working

We all work differently, whether that be through strict to-do lists and schedules – or chaos.

I personally have a spreadsheet to-do list, an app to-do list, and a written to-do list. They all help me keep track of different things, and the break I get when updating what I’ve completed is a way to step back and take a moment to reflect before I carry on with my work. (it’s also SO satisfying to cross out a task).

Other people however, like my colleague Jack, works in what I would describe as utter chaos. He uses a single – and awfully vague – to-do list that he somehow works excellently from. He writes things by throwing down his thoughts in what he calls ‘caveman’ speak, so that he can organise his ideas. (WHAT?)

But it works! And that’s what matters. Don’t be embarrassed for how you find it easiest to be productive. As long as you get the tasks done, it doesn’t matter in the slightest.


8. Don’t be afraid to disagree

You might be new and probably less experienced, but that doesn’t mean your opinions are automatically going to be ignored.

Speak up! Voice what you think. You might be wrong, but even if you are, you’re showing that you are thinking freely and confident enough in your abilities to try something.

And if you are right, then you can show how valuable a fresh perspective can be on a project. You’ll contribute and potentially make whatever you’re working on, better.


9. Prioritise

When it comes to working life, you may find it overwhelming at first. I sure did. But the trick is making sure you pick the right tasks to prioritise, whilst making sure you leave time for non-urgent tasks when you can.

But this doesn’t just apply to work tasks. Prioritise yourself! Tell someone if they are asking too much of you or giving you too much work. Don’t skip lunch to keep working.

Time management is absolutely key to going home on time.


10. Most importantly: It’s just a job

At the end of the day when you go home, leave your job at the office.

Don’t carry home the stress if you can help it. Don’t let it keep you up at night worrying about a meeting or presentation. You have a life outside of work, and it is your right to spend your free time enjoying yourself.

A work-life balance is talked about a lot, but never really explained. It doesn’t just mean ‘work until a reasonable time and then go home’, it means ‘work hard, but remember that this job isn’t more important than your personal life’.

Go out, explore, use your damn holidays, have a mental health day if you need one, book that thing you’ve always to do, see your loved ones, complete your bucket list.

Remember that one day you’re going to look back on this time, and it’s just as important to love your personal life as your career.

And as a plus – having a rest increases your productivity! Take a look at Rhiannon’s blog about that: Weekend away keeps the burnout at bay.


So, there you have it, my top tips for new starters. I hope they shed some light on working life.

And if you are a new starter – good luck! You’ll smash it.



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