You’ve done it. While you can have a brief sigh of relief after crushing your resume, nailing every interview question and writing a thrilling and engaging cover letter, the hard part is ahead. You’ve impressed and sold yourself, but now it’s time to live up to the hype. It’s your first day at your new job, and you’ve got a lot to live up to.
First of all, congratulations. Finding a gig regardless of the industry is not an easy task. We live in a time of an immense candidate pool. Standing out and impressing is no small feat. Make sure to keep your wits about you and your confidence high. You deserve this. You earned it.
So, what to do? How do you perfect the first day? How do you keep the flame of new beginnings burning while upholding the promises you wrote?
- 1. Breathe
- 2. Plan Your Commute
- 3. Dress Accordingly
- 4. Smile
- 5. Show That Confidence!
- 6. Be Ready for Onboarding
- 7. Know the Company
- 8. Silence Your Phone
- 9. Do Not Be Shy
- 10. Remember Names
- 11. Don’t Turn Down Opportunities
- 12. Know Your Story
- 13. Study Others
- 14. Be Ready for Anything
- 15. Ask Questions
- 16. Take Notes
- 17. Be Available for Your Boss
- 18. Be Yourself
- 19. Identify Who You’re Working With the Most
- 20. Leave Positively
Regardless of if you are walking into your new job or setting aside your outfit the night before, remember to breathe. As stated, winning a job is no small feat. Remember that you got this job for a reason; your experience and skills have shown through a slew of applications.
Stay calm. You’ve got this. There is no need to panic or overthink every action. No one is expected to be an expert on their first day (or even week). You do not have to be perfect. Ultimately, you just have to be yourself and be willing to learn.
Furthermore, think of it this way. This new job will be second nature to you in a few months. You are going to get there. No need to panic.
2. Plan Your Commute
What’s the common phrase? Being on time is 10 minutes late?
Do not be late for your first day at a new job. In fact, don’t be on time. Be 10-to-15 minutes early. Not only does this show promptness, but it shows commitment to putting your best foot forward.
If you are traveling a new route to get to work and do not know the time it will take, make a trial trip a few days before. Get an overall feel for how long it’ll take to get to your new office. Don’t forget the possibility of traffic.
If you are a scheduling type, look up how long it will take to get there on a GPS application like Google Maps. If it will take 30 minutes, leave with 50-45 minutes available. There is no need to cut it close. Factor in everything.
If you arrive before the person you are supposed to be meeting, great! You won the race.
In all seriousness, wait outside for them or send them a text that you have arrived (if applicable). While it’s fantastic to show up early, there’s no need to be there until you are asked. Showing up early is more for you. It works to reduce rushing and stress. Be inside the building shaking hands as soon as the clock strikes your starting time.
3. Dress Accordingly
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.
I’m beginning to believe there may be a cliche expression for every tip on this list.
Overall, the main goal of your introductory period is to put your best foot forward. Let’s not wax poetic about the importance of action over aesthetics here. Sure, it would be a more forgiving world if no one cared how you looked, but we’re realists here.
Dress well for your first day. Look good… Look stunning, even. This is the first time meeting a lot of coworkers, so a great first impression starts with a great outfit.
Of course, keep this in line with the dress code. If the dress code doesn’t call for a suit, it may appear overbearing to wear one. But, wear something nice. Consider business casual, at least. If you appear to be overdressed, adjust going forward. Maybe the button-up and tie are too much, and you learn you don’t need them going forward, but it’s better to be overdressed the first day. Being underdressed does nothing good for your work persona.
Here’s another expression for you by the great Deion Sanders, “If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good.”
Happiness is contagious, as they say.
Now I’ve made it my mission to find a cliche for every tip.
What’s the most common adjective when describing Santa Claus? Jolly. What’s the thing Santa is always doing? Smiling.
People are drawn toward those that are jolly (though I think people love Santa due to his gifts). Simply put, you want to come across as happy to both your employers and coworkers. You want to show them that you are going to be a valuable member of the team and not a toxic employee. Therefore, smile. Look happy and positive. After all, you are happy to be there.
Nothing flies a red flag more than a person looking unhappy during their first day at a new job. What negative future may they bring to the company?
5. Show That Confidence!
Further than just a smile, be confident in yourself. Confidence sells.
As noted, this is all about putting your best foot forward. Your footfall should be heavy and wise. You earned this job, and you are going to excel. Be confident in yourself and confident when speaking to your new peers.
Handshakes should be firm, eyes should match eyes and voices should be loud and clear. Keep eye contact and be heard. You are a superstar. Just being happy with yourself will translate for those around you. Enjoy this moment. The future is bright.
Also, keep your body language professional. Stand straight, don’t fidget and look interested when people are talking to you. This goes a long way.
6. Be Ready for Onboarding
Depending on how your new company works, your first day may include a lot of paperwork. If your onboarding materials were sent to you before your first day, look them over and have all of the necessary materials.
Understand all of the company’s policies ahead of time, including vacations, health insurance and retirement plans. Have the proper documents on you for tax paperwork, as well.
All in all, you want to look as prepared as possible. This leads us to…
7. Know the Company
Sure, it’s going to be impossible to know the layout of the job and your coworkers before you start (and it might be creepy if you do). But you should know everything you can about the company.
Furthermore, you should have done this research during the application and interview process. If you didn’t gather all of the information you could about the company beforehand, now is the time to do so. Make sure to walk into your first day at your new job with all the information you need to start.
Know the company’s values, culture and products. You want to appear both ready and a good fit for the team.
If you read about a previous company accomplishment and run into someone recognized through that, tell them congratulations. Stuff like that shows how professional and humble you truly are.
8. Silence Your Phone
Here’s a quick and simple one. Keep your phone on silent. Do not be the person that has a phone call ring off during your first hour on the job.
Silence your phone before you walk in. This is the time to give your employer your full attention.
9. Do Not Be Shy
Going along with confidence, make sure to be as outgoing as possible. You want to make yourself known to your new employees.
Depending on the job, you might not have the time or ability to go around and shake every hand and learn every name. That’s okay. Meeting your coworkers will come within due time. But, smile and say hello to everyone you walk by.
Genuinely be a good person. It was radiate and make your start at a new company smooth and successful.
10. Remember Names
Firstly, for the people you do get formally introduced to, remember their names. Though a subtle move, it goes a long way. People unconsciously respond to a new person remembering their name.
There are a plethora of tricks to remembering someone’s name (we’ve even shared a few). The best is repetition. When someone tells you their name, repeat it to yourself at least three times after you walk away.
When you see these people the next day (or whenever you run into them again), say their names in your greetings. This shows that you care and are going out of your way to becoming acquainted with the team.
11. Don’t Turn Down Opportunities
If a new coworker asks you to join them for lunch, do it. This is the time to start building relationships within the organization (as long as they are professional).
Furthermore, be open and ready for any social opportunity that may arise. Even as simple as sharing a conversation at the water cooler. Be ready to do so. This is the time to destroy your shell if you have one. You want to be known, and you want to know your teammates.
12. Know Your Story
Here’s a strange-but-true tip. Before your first day at your new job, know what you are going to say to people about your past.
This doesn’t mean you are a criminal with a new disguise, but be ready to answer questions about your career. It’s normal for new coworkers or managers to ask you where you worked before or what you’ve done. This is okay. Just be prepared for these questions and answer them without being toxic.
For example, if someone asks you why you switched jobs, don’t launch into a rant about your old employer. Stay professional. Have your ‘elevator pitch’ ready.
13. Study Others
Researching a company’s culture only scratches the surface. Now you’re in. No, you are not James Bond infiltrating a company (unless you are), but now is the time to observe peer behavior to figure out how you should act.
How does everyone interact with each other? How serious and fast-paced does the environment feel? How do people address the supervisor?
You don’t have to be a psychologist, but keep note of how everyone is acting. Not only will this help you stay up-to-par with the company, but it may give you insight into if you are the right fit for the job.
14. Be Ready for Anything
Sometimes the first day at your new job will involve diving right into work. Some first days involve an orientation of some sort, or just getting the lay of the land. You may be there for the entire shift. You may not be there all day.
A lot of the time, the hiring manager may not give you a full overview of what you are going to be doing on your first day. Henceforth, be ready for anything. Do not make plans for lunch with the intention of getting out early. Plan on being there for the entire shift and working your normal routine.
You never know what you’re in for.
15. Ask Questions
Whether working closely with your new supervisor or shadowing a peer, be ready to ask questions. In fact, do not hold back. Ask any appropriate question that comes to mind. This is your time to learn, after all.
This is your introductory period. This is the time to figure out how everything works and what your boundaries are. Ask about what is expected of you and what the rules are.
If you have questions after your first day, jot them down. Ask your new supervisor the next day.
Ultimately, do not be afraid to ask questions. There are no bad questions.
16. Take Notes
This may sound crazy. I may sound like an old man. Keep a small notebook and pen with you, if possible. Be ready to take notes on anything you deem important or write down questions to ask later.
Your first few days on a job are going to be overwhelming with knowledge. You are entering a world where everyone else knows every nook and cranny. Be prepared to get bombarded with information.
Do not panic. You are not expected to remember every little thing stated to you on your first day. Everyone has been new once. People understand what you are going through. But, keeping notes of things can make the imprint easier.
17. Be Available for Your Boss
Your first few days on a job may feel like you are being pulled around. You may be spending time with different employees or filling out paperwork on your own. It may be a jarring experience.
All in all, you want to make sure you are available for your new manager or supervisor. Though you may be getting tossed around like a volleyball, check back in with your boss periodically throughout the day. Let them know everything is going well or ask them questions. Ask if there’s anything you can do.
If your boss lets you know to come to their office, do so ASAP. Show your responsibility.
18. Be Yourself
Look, you can try to put on a front. You can try to be the upstanding worker you want to appear as. This is all perfectly fine and respectable.
Your true personality is going to come out eventually. There’s no reason to act like someone you are not. People will like you for who you are.
This doesn’t mean to be unprofessional, but don’t be fake. This truth will always reveal itself eventually. Stay true to yourself and get the real first impressions out of the way.
19. Identify Who You’re Working With the Most
More than likely, you will be meeting a plethora of new people. You may never work with some of those people again, depending on the company size.
While it is important to be friendly to everyone, your main social focus should be on the peers you will be spending the most time with. This is the time to get adapted to your close team.
If you work in a department, take the time to meet every person in it. It’s nice to know everyone, but meeting too many people can lead to forgetting them all. Focus on the ones you will be working with the most.
20. Leave Positively
Unless things go extremely awry during your first day at your new job (an entirely different discussion), then leave on a positive note.
Finally, end the day by checking in with all of your new managers or supervisors. Let them know you are excited and are enjoying the opportunity. Smile and leave with positivity.
Great first impressions are crucial, but leaving on a high note is important, too.
We can write about tips until the cow comes home. But at the end of the day, it’s entirely up to you.
Nevertheless, keep a positive mindset, stay polite and be confident. If you want to do well in your new job, your eagerness will translate. Your new coworkers will be able to tell you that you want to be there. After all, genuineness will shine through.
Saying don’t try too hard is a bit ironic after delivering 20 tips, but it’s true. Do all of these things with ease. Just be true to yourself and be professional. Do not stress and overthink things.
Once again, you’ve got this.