I Feel Incompetent At My New Job (9 Things You Can Do!)

Just got hired and struggling?! Feeling incompetent at a new job is extremely common among new employees (there is SO much to learn), but there are things you can do to feel better NOW.

Being new to a job means that there is a lot to learn.

It can feel like quite a dramatic shift – you go from being adept and confident to being confused and unsure, all in a matter of weeks or even days! So how can you cope with this overwhelming feeling?

Here’s what to do if you’ve started a new job and are struggling or feeling incompetent. 

What To Do If You Feel Incompetent At A New Job

Ask Questions Often

Ask Questions Often If You're Feeling Overwhelmed With A New Job

No one enters a new job with magic, instant knowledge of everything they have to do.

Instead of trying to lumber your way through on your own, ask for assistance and clarification from your colleagues.

They’ve all been where you are now and they’ll be able to show you the ropes. 

Asking questions will help you feel more sure of your actions and give you a little confidence as you figure out all the tips, tricks, and nuances of your work.

Plus, it’s normal and natural to need to ask questions, and your inquisitive nature will show your coworkers that you’re eager to learn. 

Track Your Improvements

Track Your Improvements To See Just How Far You've Come

Your improvements as you grow in your new job may be so small that you won’t notice them until you realize you’ve actually become good at your work.

There’s nothing wrong with waiting to see that accumulation, but if you’re feeling incompetent or struggling, you’ll probably want to see them more quickly.

Tracking your improvements is a great way to actually take note of even the smallest baby steps you’re making in your job.

You’ll also get the opportunity to analyze and reflect on your progress, determining what’s working, where you need to change your approach, and how you can get even better.

Remember That You’re Your Own Biggest Critic

Remember That You're Your Own Biggest Critic When Struggling At A New Job

People often forget that their perception of themselves is typically much harsher than everyone else’s perception of them.

Most others aren’t holding you to the same high standards to which you hold yourself, and few expect nearly as much out of you as you do!

There’s nothing wrong with challenging yourself, but remember that how you see your progress and ability isn’t necessarily grounded in reality.

Keep pushing to be better, but don’t forget to pat yourself on the back, too.

Psssst… These are our favorite confidence books

Show Your Face As Often As You Can

Happy employees talking and getting to know each other

This doesn’t just mean attending work whenever you’re scheduled to, as that’s a no-brainer.

Instead, it means taking the initiative to show up at optional work events, even if it means asking to sit in where someone in your position wouldn’t usually be.

So attend as many meetings as you can and take note of company culture and standard expectations. Accept invitations to lunches, dinners, and events.

Be a frequent friendly face and you’ll naturally absorb knowledge from your coworkers while making it clear that you’re focused on becoming a good worker.

Develop Better Time Management Skills

Writing down notes for her new job, young professional is learning a lot and becoming more and more confident everyday.

Time management is crucial for managing the overwhelming onslaught of new information and tasks at a new job.

You’ll have a lot of assignments and things to keep up with, and if you’ve been struggling to keep up, you’ll definitely need to work out a better system for staying organized.

Invest in a journal or planner and make note of certain tasks and deadlines.

Then, schedule out some time for yourself to take a breather.

Finally, pencil in any optional events that you’ll have time to attend.

Make sure to still leave open time for other events, favors, or spending time with family.

This ensures you have sufficient time for a good work-life balance and can easily keep track of your tasks.

Once you’ve made your schedule and gotten into the habit of filling it, learn further time management by prioritizing your work tasks well, setting goals, and managing commitments.

Understand That Mistakes Are Part Of The Process

Working woman on her laptop for her new job

No matter how good of a worker you are, you’re going to make mistakes. Newbies are practically expected to mess up every now and then.

It’s part of the process of learning! So don’t beat yourself up or feel incompetent over a couple of mistakes.

It’s only natural that you make them, and as long as you reflect on them and learn from them, there’s no harm done in the long run.

Give Yourself Time To Adjust

Overwhelmed new worker struggling at her new job and feeling incompetent

Changing jobs is a significant life change, so you won’t feel accustomed to it right away!

You’ll have new roles, new tasks, a new environment, and much more to adjust to. Even the most adaptable people need a little time to grow into new shoes, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

Give yourself time to develop in your new position instead of expecting practiced perfection off the bat.

Check In With The Relevant Authority Figures Regularly

Young professional women working hard at her new job - Take back control to stop feeling incompetent at work

If you’re feeling incompetent, your best bet is to find out for sure where you’re lacking and how to improve.

The key way to do this is by talking to your manager, boss, or other relevant authority figures.

Aside from regularly scheduled meetings, make it a habit to check in with these authority figures after each significant work assignment, or after completing a new type of task for the first time.

You’ll get instant feedback to apply to your work and your boss will be impressed by your initiative!

Remember That You Were Chosen And Hired For A Reason

Confident women in her new job after trying out these tips to stop feeling incompetent at work

You weren’t the only person who applied for this job, but you’re the one who scored your position.

That means the company you’re working with saw something in you that they liked.

Play into the strengths that got you hired, remember that you were chosen for a reason, and don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re an incompetent imposter.

You got this job because you earned it!


It’s normal to feel a little out of your depth at first in a new job thanks to the huge wealth of new information that you haven’t yet discovered.

But by pacing yourself, being understanding of your rookie behavior, staying on top of your tasks, and showing that you’re trying your best, you’ll soon be a competent, adept worker!

Don’t forget to check out these confidence books before you go! Get over imposter syndrome and feeling incompetent at a new job with their help.

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