Your first day at a new job is often one of the most memorable and eventful. You'll need to meet your new coworkers, make a good impression, get your workspace set up, and learn about your new company's rules and culture. A great performance at these tasks can help your subsequent work days go more smoothly. In this article, we discuss why the first day of your new job is so important, and we offer tips to help you have a successful first day of work.
Why is your first day of work important?
Your first day of work is foundational and sets the tone for your job going forward. On your first day, you'll learn many of the things you need to know to perform your job well. For instance, the first day is typically when you'll first see your work area, learn your specific day-to-day workflow and schedule, meet your coworkers, get familiar with different areas of your office or building, and much more. Your first day sets the foundation for all of your future interactions at work, and it's true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Additionally, you may have searched for weeks or months before finding the new job that suits you, so it's important to make the most of the opportunity you now have to move forward in your career. This means that you should make every possible effort to be prepared for your first day of work.
Tips for a successful first day of work
Here are some things you should do for a great first day:
- Dress up.
- Plan your commute.
- Review onboarding and orientation materials carefully.
- Ask plenty of questions.
- Be friendly.
- Prepare an elevator pitch.
- Eat lunch with your coworkers.
- Observe others.
- Be available to your supervisor.
- Pay attention to your body language.
- Say goodbye when you leave.
Dress up to make a good impression and ensure you're meeting the company's dress code. You can consider wearing a dress shirt and a tie or a pantsuit with oxfords, flats or sensible heels. If everyone around you is dressed more casually, you can adjust your clothing choices on later days. You can also take off your tie or jacket later in the day if it seems appropriate.
2. Plan your commute
When you drive or use public transportation on your first day of work, you may not know exactly how long the commute will take. You should leave at least 15 minutes earlier than you normally would get to a place on the same side of town. Rush hour traffic could make your commute take longer than a typical trip to the same area, and showing up for your job early is much better than being late. If you're more than a few minutes early, you can use the extra time to prepare for the day.
3. Review onboarding and orientation materials carefully
On your first day of work, most people need to review employment contracts and take care of paperwork such as tax forms. You should read any materials you get carefully to understand your new employer's health insurance coverage, retirement plans, vacation policy, and more. You could get some of this information after your first day, and you may need to read some of it at home. Save this paperwork so that you can review it later if needed.
4. Ask plenty of questions
New hires have a lot to learn, and asking questions now will help you avoid mistakes in the future. For example, you may need to ask which tasks you should prioritize or how often your supervisor prefers to get updates. Being inquisitive also shows that you want to do well in your new position.
5. Be friendly
Smile, be cheerful, and introduce yourself to as many of your new coworkers as you can. During breaks, start conversations by asking about which restaurants or coffee shops nearby are best or people's plans for the weekend. Making friends will encourage your coworkers to think of you as one of the team. A good friend could also help you advance your career.
6. Prepare an elevator pitch
Give the people you meet a short explanation of your work history and your new job. Tell them where you worked last and what you'll be doing in your new position. You should also be prepared to talk about why you decided to change jobs.
7. Eat lunch with your coworkers
If your boss or some of your coworkers invite you to lunch, consider taking them up on the offer. Eating lunch is a great way to make friends and find out more about the people you'll be working with. You may even end up sharing a meal with your coworkers frequently, which can help you build strong professional ties to help you advance in your career.
8. Observe others
In most work environments, learning from the right coworkers is important. You should listen to people's conversations carefully and watch their behavior. That way, you can focus on emulating the most successful people and making friends with the people who can help you most. You can also get useful advice about how to succeed at your new job.
9. Be available to your supervisor
Your first day at work could be extremely busy. Between talking to your coworkers, getting essential training, and completing the onboarding process, check-in with your manager a few times. You can ask a few questions or just ask if they need anything. If your supervisor sends you an email or tells you to come to their office, respond immediately. This demonstrates both respect and enthusiasm to your new manager.
10. Pay attention to your body language
Even when you're not talking, you're often communicating with other people through your body language. Sit or stand up straight and avoid signs of nervousness or boredom such as touching your hair or face, tapping your foot, or yawning. When you have a conversation with someone, lean forward to show that you're interested and nod when they make a good point or give useful information.
Most employers understand if you make a few minor mistakes on your first day of work. The urge to make a good impression can be challenging, but you should remember to focus on learning to do a great job. If you start to feel nervous or stressed, take some long, slow, deep breaths and focus on being present. Imagine a calm, peaceful scene such as a beautiful beach. If you make an error, remember that you'll have a chance to do better tomorrow.
12. Say goodbye when you leave
When you're ready to leave, thank your supervisor for hiring you and let them know that you enjoyed your first day. If they feel talkative, you can talk to them about your day and how you plan to handle future projects. Wish them a good night and tell them that you look forward to seeing them tomorrow.