Starting a new job is an exciting time: new possibilities; developing new skills and relationships; a step up on the career ladder; maybe a return to work; or even a move to a new area.

You may be taking on new responsibilities, or just relieved that you have found work in these challenging times.

Take a moment to congratulate yourself – these big life events need celebrating.

Of course, beginning a new job can also bring anxiety and it’s important to remember that it’s perfectly normal to experience a few nerves, especially when starting your first job.

We invited some FCN staff, volunteers and supporters to offer tips based on their own experience of starting a new job in agriculture and moving to an area they may not know.

Read our top 10 tips below:

1. Enjoy your new challenge – adopt a positive mindset

This is an exciting time and one you deserve to enjoy. Of course, you may have some nerves or anxiety, but try and concentrate on the positives of your new job which will (hopefully!) outweigh any concerns. We all have the power to choose how we view and approach a particular situation – make a decision to see the positives and relish this new opportunity.

2. Get connected locally – it can make a big difference

Several of our team highlighted how important it is to join in with your new colleagues and try and create links in your local community. Find a local club or regular group meeting with something you enjoy, be it Young Farmers, film clubs, yoga, debate clubs etc. – something to look forward to every/every other week that will provide opportunities to meet likeminded people. Being connected can really help our resilience too. If you feel a little nervous about meeting new people, that’s normal, we all do to some extent! Just take that first step and the benefits will be long lasting.

3. There are no silly questions when starting a new job

Sometimes we may feel the best strategy when starting a new job is to quietly ‘blend in’. If that’s your preference it’s fine, but it’s really important to ask for clarification on things when you are going through an induction or learning the ropes in a new role. Employers will sometimes assume you know things already, and if you don’t it’s their responsibility to explain them. It’s far better to ask a question than have to admit later that you weren’t clear on something – and it may be vital for your safety or the safety of others.

4. It’s ok to ask for some support if you need it

If things aren’t going great, or you are concerned about an aspect of your new role, don’t bottle it up. Find a colleague you can talk it over with or ask to discuss it with your line manager or HR representative if you have one. If you don’t feel there is anyone in the work place you can talk to, speak to a friend or call FCN (see below) and we will help you think about your options.

5. We learn and develop when we step outside of our comfort zone

Taking on a new challenge or responsibility can sometimes appear a bit daunting, but these can often be the times in our life when we grow and develop the most. It’s a truism that we generally regret the things we didn’t try when offered a new opportunity, more so than regretting having a go. Take a deep breath, say ‘yes’ and give it your best shot – far better to try, than miss a chance to progress or experience something new. If it doesn’t work out, you will have at least learned something new.

6. Starting a new business can be an especially exciting time

If you are starting your own business, we salute you! There is plenty of support available for small business owners and we are grateful to Caroline Reeves, a valued FCN supporter, who has shared some of her own experience with a rural start-up and some top tips in an article which you can view here.

7. Manage your work/life balance and look after your physical and mental health

As you throw yourself into your new job, remember to look after yourself and stay mentally and physically fit for the workplace. Try and get into a physical fitness regime that fits with your work hours, whether that’s joining a local running club, the gym, or just getting out for walks. Make time for your mental wellbeing and try to find a good balance between work and personal life. It’s fine to work hard and focus on your new job – but finding that balance will help avoid burn-out in the longer term. Make sure your work doesn’t prevent you from living your best life.

There is a wealth of information on the www.farmwell.org.uk website and you may like to watch this video on how Scottish farmer Scott Dewart manages his farm/life balance:

8. Look out for your new work colleagues and help build a great team culture

A successful business starts with a healthy team. As well as looking after yourself, it’s important to look out for and support your new work colleagues. Learn the signs that someone may exhibit if they are stressed or finding things difficult and start a conversation to let them know you are there for them. Our FarmWell platform has some useful information about spotting the signs of stress: https://farmwell.org.uk/identifying-managing-and-minimising-stress/

If you are in a management role, let your team know that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness and with regards to workplace safety – remember that the standard we walk past is the standard we set.

9. Don’t forget the folks back home!

You may get so caught up in the exciting world of your new job, that you forget that friends and family back home may be wondering how you’re getting on. Remember to stay in touch and share your new experience with them – jobs may change, but family and friends are with us throughout our lives.

10. Remember that the work you do really matters

We all rely on people in farming and food production several times a day – for what we eat, for some of the energy we use, and for maintaining a rich and diverse natural environment that we can all appreciate. Media coverage and activist groups may paint a negative picture at times, but we are fortunate to live and work in this amazing industry and it is important to remember that your work is vital to millions of people in this country – and the wider world – every day of the year. Thank you for what you do!

Good luck with your new job!

FCN is here to help

If you are starting a job in a new area, FCN is here to support and encourage you. We can help connect you with others in the local farming community that you are moving to and be there to assist if you need to talk anything through. You can ring us on 03000 111 999 (7am-11pm every day) or email help@fcn.org.uk.

With thanks to Rosie, Caroline, Andrea, Charmain, John, Mark and other members of the FCN team.

FCN is supported by the Westminster Foundation in developing a project to support agricultural students and early careers ag professionals to develop skills for living and farming well.

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