Starting a new job can be exciting, but it can also be a little scary. Even if you’re confident in the career you’ve chosen, it’s vital to start out on the right foot. Thankfully, there are things you can do to prepare for your first day at work.
The best advice is not to let nerves and anxiety get the best of you. Many times, a new job is also a unique opportunity and a stepping stone toward growth in your career. It’s normal to feel somewhat nervous about that, but those nerves shouldn’t take over how you handle yourself.
The first day of a new job may not seem that important. After all, you’ll have to prove yourself through months of consistent work. But, the first day is your best chance to make a positive first impression. That can count for a lot when it comes to how your co-workers and your boss view you.
If you’re starting a new job soon, don’t worry! Your nerves don’t have to get the best of you. Instead, you can harness those nerves and channel them into something positive. If you’re able to do that, you can kick off a new career with confidence.
How to Get Ready for the First Day of a Job
You can use the advice listed here to prepare yourself for the things that might happen on your first day, and how you should respond to them professionally. Are you starting a new career? Let’s dive into how you can make the most of it from the start.
1] Start Your Preparation the Night Before
Preparing for the first day of work starts by getting as much ready as possible the night before. The last thing you want is to feel stressed or overwhelmed in the morning when you’re getting ready for work. That will set a negative tone for your day and will have you feeling frazzled as you head into work.
A few things you can do the night before to make the morning easier include:
- Setting out the clothes you plan on wearing
- Practice a bit of small talk you can use if needed
- Set your alarm earlier than you think you’ll need
- Think about why you took this job
If you’re able to follow these simple tips at night, the morning should be a lot easier. One suggestion for setting out an outfit for yourself is not to go out and buy a new suit or dress clothes. It can be tempting, and of course, you want to look your best.
But, consider the fact that you’ll be dealing with a lot of new things on your first day. You want to look sharp, but it’s also important to feel comfortable. Instead of buying new clothes and adding to that list of things you aren’t familiar with, choose your favorite smart outfit.
2] Get to Work Early
It’s not just important to be on time for your first day of work. It’s a necessity. Our advice is to forget the rule of showing up punctually for your first day. Instead, show up early! There are several benefits to this. First, it will show your employer that you’re excited to get started, and you’re feeling motivated to work.
Second, it will give you a chance to get organized, possibly have a tour of the office, etc., before the work day even begins. The more comfortable you feel in your surroundings before you have to get started, the better.
Getting to work early, just like preparing the night before, will help to make things feel less stressful and overwhelming. These actions put you in the driver’s seat and allow for more organization.
3] Don’t Pack Your Lunch
One obvious question is what to bring on your first day of work. You might think you should be proactive and pack a lunch for yourself. While this might be a good idea later in the week, you shouldn’t pack a lunch on your first day. This might seem like a silly thing to think about, but it could be more important than you think.
There’s a good chance that on your first day of work, either your boss or a few of your co-workers may want to take you out to lunch. This is an excellent opportunity for them to get to know you in a more casual setting. It’s also a chance for you to get to know the people you work with, and ask questions that you may not have thought of before. Think of it as a casual meet-and-greet, and even a training session.
By bringing your lunch, you’re subconsciously letting people know that you want to eat alone, or you don’t want to go out. While that may not be your intention, that simple brown lunch bag can speak volumes more than you even realize.
If lunchtime on your first day rolls around and no one has offered to take you out, it’s an excellent opportunity for you to step up and do it. Get to know some of your co-workers by asking if they want to get lunch on your first day, even if that means ordering pizza in the office and having a few minutes to chat. They’ll appreciate that you want to get to know them.
4] Prepare a Summary of Yourself
Preparing a 30-second ‘elevator pitch’ can make the stress of having to talk about yourself easier. This is especially true when you’re around people you don’t know. Your co-workers and other people at your place of employment are going to want to know who you are. You don’t have time to give them your full life story. But, it’s also crucial that you don’t come across as cold or unwilling to talk.
An excellent way to combat both of these problems is to prepare a summary of yourself ahead of time. You should be able to talk about who you are within 30 seconds or so and give people a pretty good idea of what they can expect from you.
You can rehearse your ‘pitch,’ or have a few general ideas in mind that you know you want to cover each time. Either way, make sure you’re comfortable talking about yourself in short bursts and be consistent with what you say to different people.
5] Always Listen and Ask Questions
You should be able to relax and enjoy the moment on your first day. Your hard work through the interview process paid off, and you go the job you wanted. It’s okay to enjoy that, and can even make you seem more approachable if you don’t look so stressed and rigid.
But, you shouldn’t let yourself get so relaxed that you come across as cocky. It’s crucial that you play the part of a new employee, and you know your role well. That means staying on your toes all day and doing a lot of listening. It’s not safe to assume that you know anything, and though there may be situations where you can offer your input, most of the time you should either listen or ask questions.
Asking the right questions is a great way to show how interested you are in the job itself. You might think after a while that it would get annoying to your boss or co-workers, but that’s highly unlikely. Most people would rather answer a question than deal with confusion or a poor job later on. If you’re unsure about something or want clarification, ask about it. You can even prepare a few questions ahead of time.
6] Understand the Social Atmosphere
A big part of any work environment is the social landscape. Everyone is there to do a job, but you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to talk with your co-workers throughout the day and get to know them. Sometimes, co-workers even get together outside of work to spend time together.
There are two important things to keep in mind when you’re looking at the social atmosphere of your business:
- Getting along with your co-workers.
- Getting along with the right co-workers.
Yes, it’s essential to get along with people at work. Any negative feelings, especially in an office setting, can affect the general atmosphere of the building. It can make things feel strained and awkward. Always do your best to get along with all your co-workers, and stay on their right side.
It’s also a good idea to look for the right crowd. Unfortunately, office politics are a reality. You’ll find that there are probably certain cliques and groups that band together in your place of employment. Learning about these different small groups and the reputations they may have can help you make a better choice. You want to associate yourself with people in the office who will help you, not hurt you. Co-workers who are passionate about their career and want to move ahead are usually better to spend time with than those who complain about everything.
Take a few days or even weeks to learn the lay of the land when it comes to the people you work with. It won’t take too long to figure out how office politics shape the landscape of the business.
7] Give Off the Right Level of Energy
During your first few days of work, the only thing people will be able to judge you on is your personality and attitude. Since they aren’t able to judge your work yet, they will quite literally judge you, yourself. It’s a good idea to give off positive energy as much as possible. Most people are happy to work with someone who is energetic and gives off a positive attitude. If you can keep that up, you can make a much better first impression.
It’s also crucial that you show a strong work ethic. Even if you aren’t able to get much done in your first few days, showing your eagerness and willingness to work can go a long way. It lets people know you’re there to help build the company up, not drag it down in any way.
8] Turn Off Your Cell Phone
Make a point to leave your cell phone on silent before you even enter the building on your first day of work. Even if you never check it throughout the day, it can be distracting to co-workers to hear sounds and notifications coming from your pocket or at your desk.
Again, even if you don’t often check your phone, the fact that it continues to make noise lets people know that you may be easily distracted. It also suggests you may not even do your job to the fullest. It can make a bad impression from the start. If your job has a cell phone policy, learn the rules right away. But, a good rule of thumb, in any case, is to keep your phone silent and put away for your first few days of work.
9] Show Interest in People
It’s not enough to show interest in the work you’re doing and the company itself. Make it known that you’re interested in the people you’re meeting. Chances are, you’ll meet a lot of people on your first day. You may not remember every detail about them, but you should make an effort to do so within a few days.
By making an effort to find out more about the people you work with, you’re setting up the stage for a better working environment. The better the environment you have with your co-workers, the easier it will be to work with them on a daily basis. Plus, everyone likes to feel as though someone has taken a general interest in them. Try to remember at least one specific thing about everyone you’re working with. A little gesture like this can go a long way toward creating a positive work environment.
10] Don’t Try Too Hard
This might seem counterproductive, but there is a difference between doing your best and doing too much on the first day. You already have the job. Trying to impress people may come across as condescending or cocky. You don’t have to make your colleagues say ‘wow’ on the first day. They already know you got hired for a reason, so don’t look for constant praise.
The best thing you can do is to impress people naturally. This won’t be done in a day. It might take weeks or even months for you to impress people with the work you’re able to put out on a consistent basis. By having the right attitude and doing a good job, your work will speak for itself, and you won’t have to worry about trying so hard to impress anyone.
11] Always Be Yourself
Before you even step into your new place of work, decide that you’re going to be yourself. This is easier to do when you’re more relaxed, so if you need to practice relaxation techniques ahead of time, it can be worth it. You want to be professional, but it’s also important to show an accurate depiction of who you are from the start.
Essentially, you want to be the same person on your first day of work as you are by the end of your first month. Consistency is critical, so there is no point in putting on a front for your first day. Prepare yourself for the job, and try to do your best, but don’t overcompensate by trying to be someone you’re not. It will usually backfire, and most people can’t keep up the charade of a different personality for too long.
Congratulations on getting a new job. It’s an exciting accomplishment for anyone. Whether this job is a stepping stone to promotion or something you’ve been trying to get for a long time, your first day should be treated the same.
We hope the suggestions in this guide can give you some comfort and peace of mind as you start your new career. Having a great first day depends on a mix of professionalism and relaxation. You should always let your bosses and co-workers know what they can expect from you from the start. If you’re able to do that, it’s less likely you’ll have problems with the business later on.
If you’re starting a new job soon, keep these tips in mind, and prepare ahead of time as much as possible. The more comfortable you are on your first day, the better. The people you work with will appreciate it, and you’ll be able to soak in everything from the social landscape, to how the business works on a daily basis.
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