Spotlight on: first-day nerves

Gordon Brown starts his new job tomorrow, and like anyone beginning a new role, he’ll no doubt have new-boy butterflies – not that most of us have our first day at work scrutinised by the world’s media.

Despite his unusually high-profile start, our new prime minister will not be alone in feeling anxious. Research from Jobsite, seen exclusively by Personnel Today, shows that 20% of people think the first day in a new job is scarier than many of life’s most daunting events, including experiencing relationship problems with your family, friends or partner (18%). After many public spats with his predecessor and former friend, however, Brown’s overwhelming feeling may be one of satisfaction.

Biggest fears

The survey found that first-day job jitters are equivalent to a visit to the dentist (21%), although Brown’s gleaming new gnashers suggest he has overcome this fear for the sake of his image.

Confronting a rat or spider (21%) is another terror felt to be on a par with starting a new job, but perhaps this pales into insignificance compared to facing David Cameron across the despatch box.

The Jobsite research shows that Brown shouldn’t fret about asserting his authority on day one, or dressing to impress. Instead, the key things he can do to make a good first impression are:

  • Make friends with his Cabinet and team (48%). Given that he gets to hand-pick them, this should be easy).
  • Get to grips with the job and show he understands the role and responsibilities (24%) – after 10 years he should have a vague idea.
  • Show his commitment by arriving early or staying late (15%) – he has certainly not arrived early in the role, and whether he’ll stay late is anyone’s guess.

Felix Wetzel, group marketing director at Jobsite, says: “While it is reassuring to see that the British public think that having the right attitude and being able to illustrate a firm grasp of the job from day one counts more than smart suits or schmoozing, we need to make sure we give all new recruits the space to find their feet before we expect the earth – and the same goes for the prime minister.”

Stay teetotal

The survey suggests that the biggest faux pas Brown could make on day one is to get drunk at lunch (33%). As chancellor, Brown famously never touched anything stronger than water when delivering his Budget, so this is probably a safe area.

Insulting the boss (28%) is another no-no. Since the PM answers to the Queen, the risk of giving offence through incorrect etiquette is rather higher than for most of us. Turning up late (14%) is also frowned upon, but having waited this long, Brown will no doubt be in bright and early, especially as he already lives next door to his new office.

If the first-day blues are getting Brown down, he should spare a thought for the others that people think have a more difficult job than his: George Bush has 19% of the vote compared to Brown’s 17%, but he should watch out for young rival Cameron, as only 6% see him as having a difficult job on his hands.

Running the country is felt to be not dissimilar to managing a football team – 12% voted England manager Steve McClaren as having the most difficult job.

Let’s hope Brown’s first few months go a bit more smoothly than McClaren’s.

First-day terrors

Your first day at work is more daunting than:

  • Relationship problems with your family, friends or partner (18%)
  • Your driving test (16%)
  • Having a baby (13%)
  • Getting married (6%)
  • Meeting your partner’s parents for the first time (6%)
  • Telling your parents a well-kept secret – for example, that you smoke (6%)

Source: Jobsite

by Helen McCormick

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