Your first day of work can feel like a whirlwind, so being as prepared as possible will make a big difference.
This list of tips for your first day on the job will help you keep your nerves at bay, make a great impression, and hit the ground running.
1. Make Sure You’re Well-Rested
Having the jitters before your first day of work can be a real issue, keeping you up far later than you intended. Take measures to ensure you’re getting a full night of rest before heading to work in the morning.
A lack of sleep can negatively affect how you process information. It can make you forget small details, causing your attention span to plummet. Plus, constantly yawning and looking tired won’t make a great impression!
Get to bed early, calm your mind, and sleep for at least eight hours so you’ll feel refreshed when you wake up.
2. Be on Time
Can you imagine what your boss and peers would think of you if you showed up late on your first day of work? Don’t leave anything up to chance. Best practices say that you should arrive about 15 minutes early.
Even if you have to wait in your car a few minutes before walking in, it’s better than being tardy. This commute is new, and you’re not familiar with the ebbs and flows of traffic on this route. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your new job calmly and on time.
3. Take Notes
You’ll receive a barrage of new information during your first day on the job. It can be overwhelming, and there are many little things to remember. Do yourself a favor and invest in a good notebook.
Carry it with you all day and jot down those critical, need-to-know details. It will help you avoid having to ask repetitive questions later on and show that you’re committed to the job. Being a vigilant note-taker is a great way to impress the higher-ups.
4. Prepare Some Questions Ahead of Time
Before you head into your first day of work, take time to prepare a list of questions. After getting that job offer, there will likely be a few different topics you’ll want more details on. Write them down to ensure that you get answers to every single one.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- Who should I contact if there are problems?
- Where do people hang out during breaks?
- Who else should I meet this week?
Most questions will be answered during the onboarding process. You can check them off and jot down answers to acclimate faster. Anything not covered as your onboard will stand out on your list, ensuring you know what to ask when the time comes.
5. Stick to the Dress Code
Don’t forget to read up on your company’s dress code. The last thing you want is to start your first day on the job dressed in something inappropriate for the work environment. Whether business casual or formal, find something ahead of time and have your outfit ready to go.
While you should stick to the dress code policies, try to wear something you like. Choose an outfit that represents who you are, and make sure you feel good wearing it. Sometimes, all it takes is a great ensemble to boost your confidence!
Starting a new job can be intimidating! You’re stepping into a long-established environment and will be the “new kid on the block.” It’s no surprise that first-day jitters are such a common problem.
The day before you start working, do something that relaxes the mind. Avoid overthinking about the first-day experience; do what you can to make those nerves melt away. Whether going to the spa, exercising, lounging around watching movies, or kicking back with friends, focus on relaxing your mind to start your first day of work feeling recharged and ready to go.
7. Show Some Pep
You’re probably already aware, but many eyes will be on you during your first day. Hiring decision-makers and bosses will observe you closely. Even if you don’t see or hear them discussing your potential, they are!
Because there’s not much performance to scrutinize yet, your work ethic and overall energy are what people will pay attention to. Be conscious about having a little pep in your step. Exude positive energy, and don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm for the job.
People like to work with those who uplift others and bring energy into the room. Being that positive light from day one can work in your favor.
8. Give People a Chance
It’s always wise to enter this new work environment with an open mind. People will do things differently than you’re used to seeing, and some personalities will rub you the wrong way. That’s OK–it’s normal.
But don’t let those initial impressions prevent you from getting to know people in your office. Avoid snap judgments, and give people a chance. You’re under the magnifying glass, too. Wouldn’t you want people to provide you with the same opportunity?
9. Silence Your Phone
This tip sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. Always put your phone on silent mode. Also, read up on your company’s phone policies.
Some organizations are super strict about phone usage, and others don’t care. Either way, silence your phone to avoid any unnecessary distractions.
Constant notifications will pull your focus away from all the new things you’ll learn during your first day of work. Plus, it can make you look unprofessional.
10. Start Meeting Your Team
Your team will be instrumental to your success, and you’ll also spend a significant amount of time with them. Start getting to know who they are from day one!
We don’t mean going over the logistics of your job. That’s important, too, but we’re talking about building a rapport. Team members have to have a good working relationship to collaborate.
Start on the right foot and get to know your team. Simple icebreaker questions will get the conversation flowing, giving you plenty of opportunities to get closer to the people you’ll interact with most at this job.
11. Keep Yourself Organized
Your first day on the job is always a little hectic. You’re learning many new things, getting a lay of the land, and meeting people you’ll ultimately see and collaborate with daily. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and get lost in the chaos.
We recommend getting yourself organized. That notebook we mentioned earlier for taking notes? Use it to organize thoughts, jot down what you learn, make notes of essential work details, etc.
Besides a notebook, remember to bring your phone charger, money, your wallet and important documents such as your driver’s license and social security card.
That’s not all you can do. It’s also wise to start organizing your workspace. Get ahead of the craziness and establish an organized work area as early as possible.
12. Learn Your Way Around the Office
Someone from your team or HR will likely give you a brief tour of the office. But when you have a moment of free time, do some exploring yourself. Get familiar with where everything is, where the offices of important people are, and more.
It’ll take some time for you to know the place well, but taking time to learn the office layout will save you from being lost in the days to come.
13. Introduce Yourself to Your Peers
While looking around the office, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to some of your new colleagues. But remember, do your best not to force it! People are busy, and lining up to shake every person’s hand is a little awkward.
Make introductions naturally. There’s no rush to meet everyone now, but you should take steps to start getting to know everyone.
14. Demonstrate Interest
Always show interest. Whether you’re talking to a random colleague you ran into in the hallway or a team member you’ll work with, show interest in what people say.
Make eye contact, ask questions, and reciprocate conversation. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone feign interest when words clearly go in one ear and out the other. This is your first day of work, and showing everyone that you’re genuinely interested in being there will set the tone for the rest of your time at the company.
15. Be Professional
Throughout your interactions, always maintain a sense of professionalism. It can feel more casual when you talk with your new colleagues. However, every workplace has professional expectations.
Don’t make the mistake of getting too comfortable too fast.
While you’re at it, make a note of the professional atmosphere of the office. Some workplaces have a stricter way of doing things. Meanwhile, others have more relaxed vibes with wiggle room to be personable and casual. Either way, never forget that you’re in a professional setting.
16. Practice Good Body Language
Earlier, we mentioned that having good energy on your first day of work was crucial. That doesn’t just apply to your facial expressions or what you say. It also applies to your body language.
Your body language provides many non-verbal cues about how you’re feeling. If you’re slouched, have your arms crossed, or have any other seemingly negative body language, it could reflect poorly on your demeanor.
17. Start Taking in the Social Dynamics
Every workplace has social dynamics. Friend groups form, and everyone develops a unique reputation.
When you’re meeting everyone, you can see the dynamics in action. It can feel a bit like high school, but the social aspects of the workplace matter.
Take note of negativity and avoid any groups prone to gossip. Those groups often have bad reputations with colleagues and may be on management’s radar. Falling into the trap of gossip and schoolyard antics could cause trouble in the future.
18. Accept a Lunch Invite
If you get an invite to lunch, don’t turn it down. You might get invites from your boss, manager, or colleagues. It doesn’t matter if you have many things to do; try to find time to seize these opportunities.
Going to lunch is a fantastic way to build rapport with your colleagues and shows that you’re ready to be a part of the team.
19. Don’t Forget to Smile
Here’s another tip that has everything to do with creating a positive first impression. A smile can make a significant difference, along with positive body language and good energy.
People remember those who greet them with a smile in the morning. Be that shining light for others, and you can start your work relationships on the right foot.
20. Be Positive
Your first day on the job can be stressful. There’s no getting around that. However, don’t let the stress get to you. Remain positive throughout the day.
Letting your nerves get the best of you is easier than it seems, and you may already find things to complain about. However, it’s best to do whatever you can to stop negativity from creeping in. It’s good for your own headspace, will help you make a good impression, and show everyone that you’ll be a joy to work with.
21. Start Recognizing
Despite the many things you’ll learn on your first day of work, it’s vital to start recognizing people. That’s not always easy when you’re in an office full of new faces, but do your best to begin recalling names. Recognize faces, learn where everyone is, and understand who you need to visit for questions.
You won’t be the new hire forever, and knowing people’s names will help you fit into the fray much faster.
22. Brush Up on Your Elevator Pitch
Your new bosses, managers, and colleagues will want to know about you during your introduction. Instead of simply providing your name, prepare for your first day of work by creating a short elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch gives the people you need a quick glimpse into your background and who you are. It should include relevant information about the job and provide insight into why you’re there. Of course, it’s also situational. Sometimes it may be just your name and role, other times you may include the following:
- Your new role in the company
- Your last employer
- A couple of noteworthy skills
- Why you are excited to work there
Practice your elevator pitch before your first day. You’ll give that pitch many times, so having a quick and streamlined way to introduce yourself can make a good positive impact.
23. Get Ready to Learn
Your goal on that first day of work is to learn. You’ll need to learn about the company, your position within it, and all those unique intricacies of the workplace.
The onboarding process alone will provide you with a treasure trove of information. Writing notes is a great way to stay organized and remember this information. But it would be best if you also got yourself in the right mindset.
Prepare to learn by removing distractions and getting energized for the day ahead.
Listening will play a big part in having a successful first day on the job. Listen to what’s covered during onboarding and absorb every ounce of information you can. Realistically, you’ll listen more than you speak.
In addition to those organized training sessions, listen to your colleagues. Note their language, how they work, and what forms of communication they use. Ultimately, you’ll need to mimic what you hear when completing work yourself.
25. Take Note of Training and Work Opportunities
There’s a good chance that you’ll hear about additional training and growth opportunities outside your initial onboarding process. You won’t have time to do any of that now, but you should take note of those opportunities as you learn about them.
Eventually, you won’t be the new hire and will want to explore ways to further your career. Those opportunities could be your ticket to climbing the corporate ladder and improving your position within the company. Instead of trying to recall what you heard in passing, you can refer to your notes and take action.
26. Familiarize Yourself with the Office Tools & Software
Every office has tools and software it uses to run efficiently. They might not be the same as what you used in your previous company. In many cases, getting over that initial learning curve is the first major challenge new hires face.
Start familiarizing yourself with those tools as soon as possible. Observe your colleagues using them and look for tutorials or manuals. The sooner you get comfortable using the applications everyone else uses, the better off you’ll be.
27. Show Gratitude
You don’t have to be over-the-top here. However, it pays to express gratitude when appropriate.
Many people will work with you to help you get acclimated in your new role. That includes HR, your new boss, and even team members. Thank them for their time and show appreciation for their assistance.
A small “thank you” goes a long way and leaves a lasting impression.
28. Make Sure Your Boss Can Find You If Needed
Be available at your designated workspace. There’s a good chance that your boss will need to speak with you at some point during the day. They might want to attend last-minute meetings, introduce you to key position-holders, and more.
Your boss might have issues tracking you down if you spend too much time away from your desk. Not only does that leave a wrong impression, but it can be frustrating to find you whenever they need you.
Be available to your boss and be prepared for unscheduled meetings.
29. Be Natural and Be Yourself
There’s a lot to take in on your first day of work. While we’ve stressed the importance of making an excellent first impression and being positive, you should also be yourself.
Let’s face it: You have a lot of eyes on you! Forcing fake friendliness or going over the top with unnatural behavior isn’t a good look. People see right through this, and it often comes off as inauthentic.
Just be yourself. Remain professional and cheerful, but your personality should remain intact.
30. Don’t Beat Yourself Up If You Miss Something
Our last tip for your first day of work is to be kind to yourself.
It’s easy to beat yourself up if something goes wrong. Maybe you felt like you made a bad first impression or asked too many questions. Perhaps you forgot some crucial details and had to go back for clarification.
Whatever the case, it’s alright. There’s a lot to take in on your first day, and things rarely go perfectly. Don’t stress out too much about things that went wrong.
It’s only your first day! You have plenty of time to get into the swing of things and fit in with this new organization.
As you can see, having a successful first day of work requires a little bit of preparation. But when you know what to do (and what to expect), the outcome will be just fine!
If the big day is coming up for you, refer to these tips and get yourself ready. It’s the start of an exciting new chapter in your career.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.