How To Have a Successful First Day at Work
First impressions tend to stick. If you’re starting a new job, it’s wise to put your best foot forward so that you form a trusting connection with your manager and co-workers early on. It’s important that your first day of work be a successful one.
Remember that lots of eyes are usually on the new person. Here are tips for landing a solid first impression on your first day of work, and getting your new job off to a great start.
9 Tips for Your First Day at a New Job
1. Dress for your workplace
Choose an outfit that’s carefully calibrated to match the formality level you’ve observed during your interviews. When in doubt, wear an outfit similar to the ones you wore to the interviews. Opt for more formal, not less. There will be plenty of time to dress more casually later on. If you’re not sure what to wear, check with human resources (HR) or your manager.
2. Arrive on time (that means early)
Generally, your new boss or human resources contact will let you know when to arrive at the office for your first day, along with where to go. You may need to tackle paperwork before you can get started. Sometimes, your first day (or longer) will be spent on orientation.
Plan to arrive early, since being late on your first day is not a good idea. Be sure to bring all paperwork as requested. Also bring a pen and notebook so you can take notes as you sit in on meetings and gather information from HR. It’ll make you look prepared, which wins you extra first impression points.
3. Ask for a tour
Usually, your manager or an HR representative will show you around the workplace. But you can still ask a friendly co-worker if they have time to give you a quick tour of the essential areas. There’s nothing more awkward than not knowing where the bathroom is.
It’s also helpful to ask about meeting room locations, the cafeteria, and the kitchen if there is one.
Get yourself situated early on so you can feel confident going about your day.
4. Be ready to introduce yourself
As much as possible, introduce yourself to people. If you’re standing near someone by the coffee maker or in the hallway, feel free to smile and say, “Hi, today’s my first day! My name is Janice, and I’ll be working with the marketing team. What do you work on?”
Make eye contact and smile when you shake hands with new co-workers. It’s best to have a confident, upbeat attitude. Jot down people’s names, job titles, responsibilities, and any other remarkable details about them. People appreciate it when you remember them.
You’ll want to embrace the most outgoing parts of your personality. Introverts, follow these strategies when you start a new job.
5. Have an intro ready
As you meet people one-on-one, at a team-wide meeting, or a welcome lunch, you may be expected to say a few words about yourself. It can help to prepare beforehand. You probably won’t need to give a formal speech unless you’re at management or executive level, but it’s best not to fumble your way through your elevator pitch about yourself.
Talk about your work background and share a few personal details. Wrap up by saying how excited you are to work at the new company.
Here’s an example: “Hi, everyone. So great to meet you! Just a little bit of information about me, for those who didn’t sit in on interviews. I worked at ABC Company for the past five years. And prior to that, I was with XYZ company. In both roles, I was responsible for project managing big product launches. I live in Saratoga, with a big dog (ask me for pictures later!) and my family. I’m really thrilled to be joining the team here, and I can’t wait to get to know you all!”
6. Keep your focus on work
Throughout your first few days, your cell phone should stay silent. Avoid personal calls, and stay away from your personal email or recreational online browsing. It’s important to be attentive and focused on work. Use your break or lunch hour for texting, emailing, and browsing.
Sometimes that can be hard on the first day or two—you might not actually have work to do. See if you can spend time browsing the company’s website. Ask if there are any meetings you can sit in on or simple projects you can start.
Remember your workplace manners and keep it professional, especially when you’re starting a job and aren’t familiar with the company
7. Keep your workspace neat
Keep your area clean, especially on your first few days. Eat outside of the office or in the designated kitchen area, not at your desk. Hang up your coat neatly on a rack or on your chair. Don’t bring tons of outside stuff.
You may want to spend some time gathering necessary supplies and organizing them neatly at your desk. However, don’t worry about excessive decorating on the first day. You can do that gradually as you get more comfortable in the space.
8. Hold off on sharing game-changing ideas
You may find it tempting in these early days to suggest ways the company could operate better. Ideas are good, but sharing improvement strategies in the early days, or acting like a know-it-all, can be off-putting.
There are likely many structures and behind-the-scenes dynamics that you don’t know about. Instead of making suggestions, consider asking why things are done the way they are. You can always share your suggestions when you’re more settled. It’s typically best to wait for at least a couple of weeks before sharing ideas about how to do things differently.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to share your value with your new employer as you become comfortable in your new role.
9. End the day on a positive note
Don’t be the first to leave the office, unless your manager dismisses you directly. Take advantage of quiet moments at the end of your day to write down impressions, questions, ideas for projects, and more. You may also want to take a few minutes to organize your work for the next day, so you can get off to a good start.
As you head out of work, say goodbye (and thank you) to the people you met that day.