Your first day at a new job can be intimidating. It’s not easy to begin somewhere new with a new team of people, particularly when trying to begin building your reputation.
But try not to be too nervous: everyone knows the first day is often the most difficult, and the good news is, it doesn’t last long. With a bit of forethought and planning, your first day can even be enjoyable.
Here’s how to make a great impression on your first day at work:
Know your transportation options
Before your first day, investigate transportation options if you haven’t already. If you have the chance, do a test run to see how much time you will need to get from door to door.
Confirm the dress code
It’s important to dress appropriately. This doesn’t always mean formal attire; in some companies, a suit and tie may stand out for all the wrong reasons. If you didn’t have the opportunity to see this part of the company culture yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out to your contact at the company to confirm.
Even if you are used to setting your alarm early for work, set it earlier. While it’s never a good look to be late to work, it can be particularly damaging to your reputation to be late on your first day. It’s normal to arrive to work early ready to begin the day, so you want to be early too. If you can, aim for 15 minutes prior to your starting time. Not only will this allow for any problems on your way to work, it will also show your colleagues you are eager to be there as part of their team.
A few minutes before you are scheduled to meet, take some time to freshen up, particularly if you are nervous or anxious. You may want to wash your face, for example, or refresh your makeup.
Meet your new team
Even if your office is relaxed, it’s a good idea to be extra professional on your first day or until told otherwise. Put your phone away, and refrain from checking websites that aren’t related to your work, even if everyone around you is. It may be normal, but as the new team member, your actions may be more thoroughly scrutinised than usual.
When meeting your new colleagues, remember to allow the most senior person to make the introductions if you can. Try not to dominate conversations; instead, allow the other person to speak.
Our relationships are important, particularly at work, so keep this in mind when you’re meeting your team. Leave your personal problems at home, keep an open mind, and be friendly.
On the job
One of the difficulties of the first few weeks is learning your new tasks. You may find that you don’t have much work to do in the early days, and it’s often because it’s difficult to integrate new people into ongoing tasks. Don’t just sit around, however. Show initiative. Look for things to do; ask your colleagues if they need help; volunteer for tasks with your new boss.
Once you’ve got your list of things to do, complete them to the best of your ability. If you’re unsure of how to do something, and you can’t figure out how to do it yourself, ask for help. It’s better to learn to do something correctly the first time than having to relearn, then go back to fix your mistakes.
Wrapping up your first day
Your first day is going to be tiring, but don’t be in a rush to leave! Instead, take note of when your colleagues leave, and leave after them if you can. Finish up any remaining administrative tasks you have - like paperwork for HR, or any onboarding requests you’ve received - so you can begin tomorrow with a blank slate.
Have you had any questions from the day? Write them down to ask in the morning. Still unsure of a few contractual details? Make a note to set an appointment with HR or your manager. File any paperwork away, send any emails you have left to send, and be sure to tidy your workstation before you leave.
These first days may be more stressful than usual, so don’t forget to take care of yourself too! Be forgiving of yourself, eat properly, and ensure you’re sleeping enough hours so you can perform at your best. You may make mistakes, and that’s okay - these weeks are for learning, and it’s normal to not know everything. Own up to them, and learn the correct way to do things. Keep these strategies in mind, not only will you survive your first day at work, you’ll thrive.