How to Have a Great First Day of Work

Different people approach their first day at a new job with different attitudes. Some find it nerve wracking, worrying about a myriad of issues, including, for example, what to wear, where to park, what to do about lunch, or, more generally, that they won’t be prepared. Others take a more cavalier approach, assuming that, after all the hard work they put into landing the job, they can relax and wing it on their first day.

Those in the latter category need to reconsider: no matter how well qualified you think you are for the new job, getting off to a good start entails a lot of thought and careful planning. While you may have impressed HR and your hiring managers before you got the offer, you’re now expected to deliver on the promise that landed you the job. On the other hand, if you’re the anxious type, advance preparation will help you feel more confident and at ease on your first day, which will help you hit the ground running.

How you handle your first day of work can have long term consequences since first impressions are hard to dispel. The more favorable the initial impression you make, the more support you’ll garner from from fellow staff members, enabling you to get up to speed quickly. The faster you become a productive member of your team or department, the better your chances for long term success.

A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way

The first day of a new job can be daunting, for sure. You need to learn your way around a new organization and culture which may be markedly different from your last job. In addition, for those who are not natural extroverts, meeting new co-workers can feel painfully awkward.

You can make the transition easier by approaching the new job with an open mind and a willingness to adapt. Some advance mental and physical preparation will help:

  • If possible, take time off between jobs to give yourself a break and recharge your batteries.
  • Study an organization chart, if one’s available, to understand reporting lines and who’s who so you can handle yourself accordingly as you meet fellow employees.
  • If HR doesn’t supply you with company policy information, covering such topics as the dress code, personal electronic use on the job, parking, etc., ask for details on workplace rules.
  • Research and map out your route to work in advance in order to give yourself enough time for the rush-hour commute.

Establish a Goal-Oriented Action Plan

As with most things in life, it’s helpful to create a plan of action to help you succeed at your new job. This plan should consist of short-, medium-, and long-term tasks and goals.

Short Term (the first few weeks):

  • Regardless of what natural schedule you fall into over time, for at least the first week, show up for work early and be among the last people to leave to gain insights into how to the organization really operates: who is where when, critical times, customer outreach, etc.
  • Communicate with your team leader and team members to understand priorities and goals. If you don’t have a crystal clear picture of what your work objectives are, ask for clarification.
  • Be friendly and courteous to everyone you meet, no matter what their title; you never know who’s going to become an important organizational ally.
  • Take a proactive approach to introducing yourself to as many people in your orbit as possible. Chit chat is a good way to establish common ground and make a personal connection.
  • Approach every task as if you’re still trying to sell yourself in the interview. In other words, go above and beyond what’s expected of you to establish yourself as a go-getter in the eyes of your work associates. But, at the same time, be sure to focus on being a good team player. Be confident, competent, helpful, and humble.
  • Check in with your manager at the end of each of the first few weeks to clarify your assignments and get feedback on how you’re doing, to make sure there are no misunderstandings.

Medium Term (the first few months):

  • As you gain knowledge about the organization’s structure, operations, and performance, be sure to communicate your qualitative and quantitative insights to your team leader via professional missives and reports. When identifying and communicating perceived problems, be sure to try and include possible solutions.
  • When starting a new job, It’s always helpful to Identify and connect with a mentor. It may take a little while to find the right person.
  • Even if you get flustered learning new work and dealing with new personalities, always make an effort to maintain a professional appearance and attitude regardless of workplace frustration and drama. In other words, don’t let anyone or anything make you react in anger or cry at work.

Long Term (ongoing):

  • Always try to remain cool, calm and collected, even under pressure.
  • No matter how long you’re on the job, never be afraid to ask for help.
  • Prepare for performance reviews. If you don’t understand what you need to do to get ahead at the new organization, be sure to ask.
  • Maintain and build your professional network over time. Keep in touch with co-workers at your former job(s).

Starting a new job is never easy; change is hard. And, regardless of how much hard work you put into creating the perfect resume, preparing for interviews and negotiating a fair salary, those efforts just opened the door. Now you must start producing and making your mark within the organization. That’s why it’s called work (and not play).

Working with a staffing agency with established business relationships and organizational insights can smooth the transition into a new job. Contact LINK today for help landing that dream job.