16 Tips to Achieve a Great First Day of Work

16 Tips to Achieve a Great First Day of Work

Updated December 13, 2021

Written by the WikiJob Team

Starting a new job can be exciting and stressful in equal measure, whether the role is your first or your hundredth.

On the one hand, you are beginning a journey that will bring exhilarating opportunities and experiences. On the other, you are entering an unfamiliar workplace which can make you feel overwhelmed and out of your depth.

Such a nerve-racking step can bring on nerves for different reasons. You might be feeling anxious about not knowing anyone, worried about the new workload, or even doubting your ability to do the job.

There are indeed a lot of things to see and understand on your first day, including navigating your work area and the rest of your building, learning your daily schedule and meeting your new co-workers.

Your chance to make a good impression on your co-workers starts as soon as you step into your new place of work. Those first few hours will set the foundation for all of your future interactions.

This may seem like a lot of pressure, but by following some first-day-of-work tips, you can relax and enjoy this new experience.

Why Does the First Day Matter?

Your first day at work is your chance to make a good initial impression on your new colleagues and confidantes. It is well known that first impressions can be made in less than seven seconds, and these are the people whom you will call on in times of need for as long as you remain in the job. It is vital to present your best self from the start.

As well as having your new team to get to grips with, you may also have some new, challenging tasks to complete, so it pays to be prepared.

From the beginning of the application process to your first day, you have made the effort to give yourself the best chance of being the winning candidate. You were successful, and all of your hard work paid off.

Now is not the time to rest on your laurels. Here are a few things you can do to ensure you have a great first day at your new job.

8 Tips for a Great First Day of Work

1. Lay Out Your Outfit the Night Before

The last thing you want to do is wake up on the morning of your first day and panic about what to wear. This last-minute stress could leave you looking tired and frustrated, which is not the impression you want to make.

If you will be wearing a uniform, ensure you have everything you need. If your new job is office-based, your dress code might be business-formal, business-professional, business-casual, small-business-casual or creative.

For your first day, it is better to dress up rather than down. You will soon find out the workplace dynamics, so presenting a smart image will help you make a great first impression.

Always choose your first-day outfit in advance, making sure it is dry-cleaned and freshly ironed, and lay it out before you go to bed. The more preparation you can do, the better. Keep an eye on the weather forecast in the days leading up to your start date, so you can plan accordingly, and dress appropriately and comfortably.

By planning your wardrobe options in advance, you can set off a positive domino effect – get that crucial good night’s sleep, have time for breakfast, leave for work early enough, and feel confident in looking and feeling your best.

2. Do a Dry Run of Your Commute

By doing a practice run of your commute, you will get to know your route before your first day. Make the journey at the same time as you need to on your first day, to get used to traffic hotspots and other time-sensitive factors.

Religiously studying the Tube map or bus timetable will only get you so far. The theory might look good, but a practice run will let you check out nuances such as waiting times, regular delays or the workplace parking situation.

In the week leading up to your first day, check online for upcoming transport or traffic disruptions so you can keep up to date with anything affecting your commute.

This will avoid frantic rushing on your first day and allow you to arrive on time – one of the easiest ways to make a good first impression.

3. Be Professional

Ensure you have everything prepared the night before your first day at work.

Your uniform or suit should be out, ready, as should any notes you have made prior to your start.

Understand how long it is going to take to get to your new place of work if you have not been there before. Attempt to be at least 15 minutes early.

When you arrive, state who you are and that it is your first day. Everyone has had first days, so there is no shame in making this clear.

4. Be Sociable and Accept Coffee or Lunch Invites

On your first day, it can be easy to assume the best thing to do is to get your head down and work through the endless induction packs until the end of the day. While this will show you are studious and willing to learn, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of workplace socializing.

If you are invited to go to lunch or for a coffee break on your first day, say yes! This is the perfect chance to settle into your new workplace more informally. As conversation flows with your new colleagues, you’ll probably find that your break goes by in a whirlwind of guidance and office politics.

Knowing who your colleagues are beyond their job descriptions is invaluable. The sooner you make connections with your co-workers, the easier it will be to ask for help when you need it.

On your first day, you are brand new and can treat your place of work as a clean slate. Spending your first day getting to know people is a great way to create a network of contacts to call on throughout your career.

10 Tips to Achieve a Great First Day of Work
10 Tips to Achieve a Great First Day of Work

You can’t be certain of how much work you will be expected to do on your first day. However, one thing you can anticipate is that your colleagues will want to get to know you!

If your mind goes blank when asked to talk about yourself, make a mental note in advance of a few things that you can share. Imparting a few pearls of wisdom or an exciting fact will make a brilliant impression on your new teammates.

Go in with an open mind and a ready-for-anything attitude and your first day of work is sure to be a success.

5. Bring a Mug and a Small Jar of Coffee if You Need Your Caffeine

When joining a new workplace, you might not know what the kitchen facilities are like.

If there is no nearby coffee shop for your daily triple, venti, half-sweet, non-fat, caramel macchiato, your best bet might be the one tiny kettle shared between three floors. In this case, you will need to bring your own mug and refreshments.

If you are not yet sure of your workspace and whether you have access to a locker or set of drawers, it is best to bring a small jar of coffee or a few teabags on your first day. That way you can get your caffeine hit without having to bring in containers that take up too much room on your desk.

And don’t forget a supply of teaspoons; these can be like gold dust in office environments.

For extra first-impression points, make sure you contribute to any routines that the team already has, such as making a round of coffees, or buying milk for the team fridge. This will show you as a team player who looks out for others – a valuable asset to all workplaces.

6. Don’t Try Too Hard

It is fine to be friendly and want to make a good impression. However, this should not be pushed too far.

If you try to go out of your own way to be too funny or too big a personality, then it will be apparent to the existing staff.

Instead, focus on remaining professional and cordial. There is no reason to be the life of the workplace on the first day.

Trying too hard may also irritate other staff members, which will create the opposite response of what you want.

7. Have to Hand Any Documentation

On your first day at work, you will likely have to go through some administrative procedures. Having your passport, proof of address and any other formal documentation will make everybody’s job easier.

You should be informed prior to your starting date what documentation you will need to bring. If you are unsure, email the appropriate contact and just bring what you believe to be necessary.

Filing all these details early means you can get on with the work quicker.

8. Prepare to Have an ID Photo Taken

If you will need a staff pass to get around the building, there is a good chance that you will have an ID photo taken on your start date. When you already feel like a rabbit in the headlights, having to stare down the camera for HR is probably not your idea of a fun first-day experience.

By anticipating this happening, you can take steps to make sure you are prepared. It is a good idea to do whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident. Get your hair trimmed, pick out a smart outfit that you feel good in, and most of all – relax!

9. Ask Questions

Do not expect to take on or understand every new strand of information. Ask lots of questions in any training groups or programs you are enrolled into.

If you are unsure of something related to work, then it is critical you grasp an understanding of this. Asking questions is the most productive way to assure this.

You may also be unsure of your contractual obligations and general rules around the workplace. Becoming comfortable within your new environment relies upon you being inquisitive.

10. Meditate the Night Before Your First Day

Meditation – the practice of using a technique such as mindfulness to train attention and awareness – has long been used around the world to improve physical and mental health.

If you already practice meditation, you will be aware of its numerous health benefits. Among many other advantages, meditation can increase concentration, enhance self-awareness and reduce stress. These effects are ideal for getting you into the right mindset ahead of your first day at work.

If you have never meditated before, now is the perfect time to give it a go.

As a beginner, you may find guided meditations useful. You can find these online and they can be great tools for helping you visualize success in many areas of your life, such as a new job.

By meditating the night before your first day, you are more likely to enjoy peaceful sleep which is vital for alertness and productivity. Carry with you a sense of zen and you will come across as cool, calm and collected.

11. Bring Office-Friendly Snacks in Case You Need an Emergency Lunch

Your first day in a new job is likely to be jam-packed with introductions, inductions and shiny new equipment. Hunger may strike at an inopportune moment when you can’t nip away from your desk.

Bring some office-friendly snacks to keep hunger pangs at bay. Food such as fruit or nuts are easy enough to nibble on to stay energized and productive.

Expect a busy first-day agenda that will require a lot of energy. Pack a delicious, nutritious lunch that will keep your mental and physical strength up throughout the day.

12. Do Not Give In to Imposter Syndrome

This is perhaps the most important tip of all. Unfortunately, a common side effect of landing a new job is imposter syndrome.

This phenomenon rears its head when you are doing something new, and causes you to feel inadequate and underachieving, and to be harsh on yourself. You are not able to see how wonderfully competent you are because your inner critic is claiming you are a fraud.

Imposter syndrome has been studied since the 1970s, so you can rest assured that you are not the only one to feel this way. These thoughts can be most prominent when in your first job, starting a promotion or navigating a career change.

In the face of imposter syndrome, the key thing to remember is that you were hired for a reason. The hiring manager and interview panel can see your true potential, even if you cannot.

In an increasingly competitive job market, you fought off countless other candidates because you have the skills and knowledge needed to take on the role. So beat down any feelings of unworthiness on your first day to give yourself the best chance of settling in and flourishing.

Some practical steps you can take to build your self-belief ahead of your first day are:

  • Make a list of your strengths and achievements
  • Do some research on your new role
  • Keep negative thoughts in check and rewrite any limiting beliefs about yourself

On your first day in a new role, imposter syndrome can be debilitating. Just remember that you are not expected to learn everything straight away. You might be determined to hit the ground running, and your intentions are admirable, but be sure to cut yourself some slack.

13. Observe the Environment

There are rules and patterns of behavior in all workplaces. Spend your first few days at work observing what these are.

Ask and listen to other staff members about how they also operate within the working environment.

Try to figure out where meetings are held, where teams usually go for training and where your working office is situated.

The quicker you become aware of your environment, the easier it is to adapt so you can start performing.

14. Contact Managers

Through asking questions and speaking to the current cohort of staff, you will be informed who the managers are.

These are the managers who you should be attempting to make contact with:

  • The general manager
  • The assistant manager
  • The team leader
  • The operations or line manager
  • The HR manager

Each of these managers plays a key role in how the company runs. Establishing a professional relationship with these members will help you navigate your own role better.

They are also good contacts to have if you are unsure of anything. A good staff member is one who knows who to go to if there are any problems.

15. Set Boundaries

We would all like to be friends with every member of staff and be responded to respectfully by everyone in the workplace.

Unfortunately, this is an ideal and not the reality. There will be members of staff who you do not see eye-to-eye with.

An existing staff member may feel threatened by your presence in the workplace, or they may be just waiting for their contract to end.

This can be discouraging if you do not know how to deal with difficult staff members. The best thing you can do to remain professional is to set boundaries.

Understand that this is only a place of work and naturally you will not be well received by every member.

Remain professional in these circumstances and try your best not to rise to any challenges that they may present you with.

If it is possible to discuss this team member with a manager, then do so. However, before making this contact observe and respond correctly to the difficult colleagues you will meet.

You must also quickly understand what your working role is. For example, you may come across a difficult team member who tries to take advantage of the fact that you are new.

In this case, they may attempt to offload their work to you or undermine your training prior to starting. Understanding exactly what is expected of you will help you respond to these challenges.

16. Leave Correctly

Avoid leaving early or leaving without speaking to at least a couple of staff members.

How you leave will determine how your second day at work will go, and this trend will continue throughout the rest of the time you spend in your new role.

Remember to say goodbye and set a good precedent for the next working day. If you are set any tasks, ensure you complete them before the next time you are at work.

If you are invited out by other members of staff and are in a suitable state to go out with your new colleagues, then it may be a good idea to take that opportunity. These can be great ways of creating stronger relationships.

Finally, once you are out of the doors and have finished your first day at work, reflect on the experience.

Make a diary note or a journal entry of what went well and what can be improved. Also mark down any questions you may have for the future.

Final Thoughts

A first day should make you excited as well as nervous. Try to think of your jitters as excitement and get ready for the first day of an exciting new phase.

Relax, take a deep breath, follow our advice and you are destined to make a brilliant first impression in your new job.

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