Scared to Get a Job: What To Do


scared to get a job

Whether it’s your very first job or a new job after having been out of work for a while, getting out into the workforce can feel scary.

There’s the pressure to perform, to interact with other people, to have less control over your schedule, and to deal with a boss. All of those things are significant challenges if you’ve never worked before or have been out of work for a while. 

In fact, it’s so much change that you might be scared to get a job entirely. 

To that end, this article is going to unpack what to do if you’re scared to get a job. We’re going to assess whether or not it’s normal to be scared to get a job, talk about reasons why you might be feeling that way, and share recommendations about what you can do.

Let’s dive in.

Is It Normal To Be Scared To Get a Job?

thinking person

It is perfectly normal to have at least some level of fear or anxiety around getting a new job. Your job is a significant investment of time and energy, as most people spend about 40 hours per week at their work. So, feeling some level of concern about whether you’re going to enjoy your job, your boss, the environment, etc. is perfectly normal.

In extreme cases, some people may suffer from what is called ergophobia. Ergophobia is a form of social anxiety that consists of intense, persistent fear around work. Symptoms include feeling nauseated, sweaty, breathless, and an intense desire to avoid work.

While some level of fear around a job is normal, intense fear like ergophobia is not as common and, if you think you might be suffering from it, then it would be best to seek professional help.

Why Am I Scared Of Getting a Job?

Ultimately, there’s a lot that goes into having a job and, thus, a lot of reasons why you might feel fear about getting a job. Included below are some of the most reasons as to why you might be scared of getting a job:

Fear Of Failure


A fear of failure is one of the most common reasons to be scared of getting a job. Generally, we all want to feel competent and like we’re contributing to society in a positive way. And our work is one of the best ways for us to do that.

So, when we get a job for the first time, or for the first time in quite a way, it makes sense that we would fear not performing well in that job.

We’re being thrown into a new environment where we’re evaluated on our ability to perform a set of tasks or achieve a goal. And if we don’t perform those tasks well, there could be some consequences that are not fun to deal with.

You may face things like being berated by a toxic boss, losing a job, having a negative customer interaction, or being embarrassed that are all real consequences of failing in our job. 

With all of that being the case, fear of a failure is a real and common cause for why you might be scared to get a job.

For specific recommendations on what to do if you’re feeling incompetent at your job, please take a look at our article on the topic.

Social Anxiety


Another common reason to be scared to get a job is social anxiety. All jobs require some level of interaction with other people. And even something that tends to be more quiet and isolated like a software developer or an accountant will require you to interact with a boss or your peers.

And if you’re someone that gets really nervous interacting with others, particularly if there is some level of pressure like there would be with a job, then social anxiety could very well be a key reason that you’re scared of getting a job.

Fear Of The Unknown

Particularly if it’s your first job, getting into the workforce is scary because there’s so much unknown.

All of the sudden, you’re spending 40 hours per week in a new environment, with new people, with new expectations around your behavior and performance. And if you don’t meet those expectations, there are consequences in that you could lose your job.

Given what a new environment the working world can be, it makes sense why you may be nervous to get started.

Sensitive Demeanor


The last reason on the list for why you might be scared to get a job is related to your demeanor and personality. If you’re somebody that tends to be a bit more sensitive in nature, a job can be tough on your personality.

Particularly if you’re working in retail or customer service where you may have to interact with angry customers, it can be tough to deal with if you’re more of a sensitive person.

How Do I Get Over Fear Of Getting a Job?

Now that we’ve unpacked some of the common reasons why you might be scared to get a job, this section is going to offer some recommendations for what to do to address your fear and get out into the workplace.

Acknowledge Your Fear


The first way to get over your fear of getting a job is to acknowledge the fear.

Dr. Daniel Siegel coined the term name it to tame it, which basically means that you notice and label your intense emotions as they happen. 

The mere act of identifying the emotion can have the effect of reducing stress and sit with the emotion.

In a way, it gives you the ability to more analytically step outside of the emotion, notice it, and take action to manage it.

Write About It

writing in journal

One of more personal favorite techniques for dealing with, fear, stress, or anxiety is to journal about it.

For me personally, when I’m anxious about something, I have a tendency to ruminate on it. Often, it will overtake my mind and I have a hard time concentrating on anything else.

Journaling, or writing about it in some way helps me to get it out of my head. It’s almost as if I’m telling my brain ok, yes, I acknowledge that this thing is bothering you and now I’m addressing it because I’m writing about it.

The act of writing about it not only helps me to get it out of my head, but it also helps me to take a bit more of an analytical look at the problem and process what I should do as I’m putting it on paper.

I think that writing about why you’re feeling scared to get a job and what you’re going to do to handle that can be an effective way to give you the courage to get out into the workforce.

Face Your Fear In Low Risk Environments


A common technique for dealing with fear is to expose yourself to it in low risk ways.

In this context, it would mean understanding why you’re scared to get a job (i.e., social anxiety, fear of failure, etc.) and exposing yourself to that fear in a context where the stakes are lower than a job.

For example, if social anxiety is the cause of your fear and the idea of working with others on a regular basis is terrifying to you, then I would recommend doing some volunteering, joining a social club, participating in a sports team, or doing something that will help to give you the confidence that you can handle social environments.


career growth plan

Another technique that really helps me when I’m dealing with stress or fear is preparation. Basically, thinking through all of the obstacles that you might face in a job and preparing for what to do if you’re in that situation.

So, as an example, if you’re nervous about dealing with angry customers in a retail environment, imagine what a negative interaction might look like and practice for how you expect to handle that.

Dealing with high pressure situations is much easier when you’ve thoughtfully prepared for how to handle it in advance then trying to deal with it when you’re emotional in real time. 

Show Up To Work

people at work

The last thing to do if you’re scared of getting a job is to simply show up.

By facing your fear, showing up consistently, and pushing through, you’ll get more and more comfortable that you can handle the stresses that come with a job. You’ll also grow in your capabilities, which will make performing the job better and more enjoyable over time.


Being scared to get a job is stressful and can be difficult to push through.

However, our work is an important part of our lives. And, if we find our best fit work, it can actually be a source of job and a means of producing good.

So, I would encourage you, find ways to push through your fear, and relentlessly search for work that is going to bring you to life.

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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