Starting a new job is one of the most stressful things you do in life. Since the first day is often the most frightening of them all, it’s good to know what you should do on that day to make a good first impression and set a precedence for the rest of your time there. To have the best first day ever, keep these tips mind as you make your way through the first eight hours of your new job.
#1: Leave Home Early
If you have to commute very far, you never know what may happen on your way to work. For instance, you could end up in traffic that would make a normally thirty minute drive turn into an hour. (On my second day on the job, my 45-minute commute turned into a two hour commute because of an accident.)
If you ensure you give yourself adequate time by leaving your home earlier than you would usually, it will help to reduce the stress factor and also help prevent a late arrival. Being early on the first day is much better than being late.
#2: Enter the Building on Time
While you may get to work super early, don’t enter the building until fifteen minutes before you’re scheduled to actually report. You want to show that you’re able to show up on time and are considerate of your coworkers’ time. They may not be ready for you yet or may be trying to work on something more important, so kill some time. Sit in your car or if there’s a small coffee shop or restaurant nearby, head over there for a latte and a little relaxation before starting the day.
You may be a nervous wreck, but don’t let that show through. When you walk into the building, greet anyone you see and be sure to smile. A smile goes a long way and helps establish that you are happy to be there. You only get one shot at the first impression, and the people you greet with a smile may turn out to be some important ones.
#4: Report to Your Boss
Since you will likely be taking direction from your boss on your first day, you’ll need to report to them as soon as you can. However, do not barrage them as soon as they enter the office. Give it about five minutes before you approach to allow your boss sufficient time to settle in for the day.
#5: Befriend a Colleague
You need someone to show you the ropes. That goes for the work you do as well as for the culture of the organization. Try to strike up a conversation with someone who seems friendly, and then try to stay connected through the day. Just keep in mind that the person may be very busy, so don’t expect a long conversation. A simple hello, smile or question will be enough to start the relationship.
#6: Write It Down
Have a pad and pen with you at all times. You will need to jot down notes as people give you information about your job duties. This pad will come in handy when you start working and can’t quite remember what you were told.
#7: Take a Lunch Break
You may think not taking a lunch break will show everyone you are a hard worker, but that’s not always true. Some people may think you’re showing off, while others may think you just don’t want to hang with them. If you are offered to go to lunch with your co-workers, say yes. If you are told to go to lunch at noon, go. Lunch is time for you to recharge for the afternoon, and your mind and body need that little bit of a break to tackle the rest of the day.
#8: Remember You Are New
A lot of people make the mistake of trying too hard on their first day. You don’t have to know everything, and you don’t have to do everything. It’s your first day, so you are learning. You don’t have to impress anyone at this point. You are simply gaining knowledge, so you can dazzle your superiors later.
#9: Ask Questions
Don’t feel like you’re bothering people or that your questions are stupid. Questions will make your job a lot easier as time progresses. Every single one you think of—ask it. Write the question and answer on your pad when you do ask, so you won’t repeat the same inquiries again.
#10: Turn Your Phone Off
Turn your phone off, or put it on silent. Having your phone ring during a meeting or when you’re speaking to someone new is rude. Even if people are doing it around you, this is your first day, and you need to be completely focused on what is happening work-wise rather than on your phone.
#11: Show You Are Genuinely Interested
You will likely learn about other departments and projects you will not be working with, but that’s okay. Ask questions about them and show you are genuinely interested in them as well as your own duties. People will likely see you as a go-getter.
#12: Stay Awake
The first day can be very tiring, but don’t show it with a big yawn. Stifle all yawns and drink coffee if you need to on your breaks. Yawning and dreary eyes can show you’re too exhausted to work, which isn’t a good look.
#13: Be Positive
Your mind may try to find the negative in your day because it’s a new work environment. Don’t do that to yourself. Think of all the great possibilities you have around you and focus on the positives. By the time you’re ready to go home, you’ll be excited for what the next day will hold.
#14: Leave on Time
Just as you should take lunch, you should leave at quitting time. If your boss tells you to leave early or stay late, you should of course do that. However, if you’re done with all your tasks, ask for more assignments so you’re not checking out until it’s actually time for the day to end.
#15: Accept After Work Drinks
If your co-workers are going for Happy Hour after work, go if you’re invited. Even if you don’t drink, it’s important to show that you are willing to engage with them even though you’re off the clock. If you have something you must do after work, let your co-workers know you can’t go that day but would be open to do it next time.
And, if the invitation for Happy Hour doesn’t come after your first day, don’t worry. You have many more opportunities.
While you may think your first day will be the most difficult, it’s usually the easiest. All you have to do is go in with a smile, stay focused and leave with a smile. Everything else will just fall into place. Now, go and have a fantastic first day of work!