Congratulations on your new job! Now is the time to celebrate as well as prepare for your first day and weeks in the new role. From figuring out the office landscape to making a good first impression, the early days can be intimidating. Here are some proven tips I like to share with my candidates before their first days on the job. They will help calm your nerves and set you up for long-term success.
1. Be early (and stay late!)
Confirm your arrival time in advance, and plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early to account for traffic and other mishaps that can get in the way of an on-time arrival. Trust me, it’s better to be a few minutes early than late. On the other side, avoid running out of the office at 5:01 PM. You can visit with nearby co-workers, bring some personal flavor to your desk set up, or get acquainted with the company’s software and technology. If outside obligations make it crucial for you to leave on the dot, have that discussion with your supervisor in advance so they understand your time commitments.
2. Think about your presentation.
Know the dress code ahead of time and take it one step up. It’s always nice to shine bright on your first day. Select your outfit the night before to avoid a morning rush, and make sure everything is clean, pressed, lint-free, polished and put together. Don’t forget to smile and show you are friendly, outgoing, confident and excited to be on board. You want people to feel comfortable approaching you. I also recommend having a quick one or two sentences about yourself ready to go; in the early days, you will be continually asked about your previous work, school and where you’re from.
3. Know where to go.
Gather contact information ahead of time. Know where to park and where to go when you arrive. Is there a check-in process at a security desk? Will your supervisor greet you, or should you ask for someone else? Knowing as much detail about the logistics will calm your nerves and help you to start the day off calmly.
4. Request an organization chart.
Get your hands on an organization chart to start learning names, understanding reporting structures and where everyone works. It’s a handy tool as you meet your colleagues. There are likely people in other groups or divisions you will be interacting with regularly, and being able to refresh on who those people are will make you feel more confident. If you’re in a management position, know where you fall in the hierarchy, who will be reporting to you and who you’ll be collaborating with.
5. Know your boss.
You most likely met your supervisor during the interview process (and if not, be sure to find out who he or she is!). As soon as possible, set up a meeting. Try to gain insights on their expectations of you, management style, likes and dislikes and more. Are there things they want you to do or things you should be prepared for? Having expectations set as you are getting to know a new company and new supervisor is essential in making the first weeks and months go well.
6. Let social media wait.
You don’t want to be the employee staring at their phone, scrolling through Facebook on your first day. If you need to have your phone, turn your social media notifications off. Don’t text with your friends, watch videos or play games! Don’t let unnecessary distractions pull you away from the tasks at hand. It’s not a good way to make a positive, first impression.
7. Be a sponge.
This is your first day on your new job – so soak it up! Learn about the company’s procedures, listen to the words of advice and be prepared to absorb a lot of information. You may be in trainings, or you may be jumping in right away with specific tasks. Keep a notebook to jot down ideas and questions that you have throughout the day. Refer to them when you meet with your manager. Show you are eager to succeed and do well, and aren’t afraid to ask questions. You’ll win a few bonus points for being organized, too!
Find time at the end of the day to connect with your manager. What went well? Are there any concerns? This is a good time to debrief and understand what is to be expected in the days, weeks and months ahead. It also shows your manager you welcome constructive feedback.
9. Take opportunities to connect.
Invited to lunch with your team? Say yes! Is there a happy hour after work that you’re invited to? Graciously accept. When you see people in common areas, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself (again) and ask for their names (again). You’re meeting a lot of new people at once, and everyone understands you aren’t going to remember all of them! Be confident. Take advantage of the opportunities to connect with the people you’ll be working with every day. If anyone shows you particular kindness and help, send them a thank you note at the end of the day. They will appreciate the gesture and it will help build your relationship.
10. Be mentally prepared.
It’s just as important to be mentally prepared as it is to be physically prepared. Make sure you get good sleep, have nutritious meals and find time to unwind after work. This is an exciting time! But it can also be overwhelming. Taking care of yourself will keep you alert, quick and ready to take on all the new information, challenges and work ahead.
11. Listen and ask.
One of the mistakes I see eager professionals make is to try to solve all the problems and make changes during their first days and weeks on the job. But, it’s crucial to learn the company, the role, your coworkers and the culture before coming on strong. Make note of your great ideas and suggestions, and when the time is right, share them. Being attentive and asking good questions will lead up to you lending your voice to the conversation.
Good luck on your first day!
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