Tips to Having a Good First Day at a New Job

The first day on the job is huge. It’s the first impression you’ll make on your co-workers and your boss. The following tips will help you keep a good sense of perspective and focus as you take on the new world that is your workplace.

It’s natural to be somewhat uptight on your first day. You’re in a new place, meeting new people, and feeling out a new set of responsibilities. While being excited is good, you don’t want to be uncomfortable and you don’t want to come across as uncomfortable either. Reminding yourself to relax during the day will help you as you meet new people and process your new environment and responsibilities.

Listen well
Make sure that you are doing your best to actually receive the information people are sharing with you. As simple as this one sounds, when everything and everyone around you is new, it can be distracting. Take notes and ask questions if needed to ensure that you’re really absorbing what’s being said. Even though some parts of the on-boarding process are dull, you’re better off erring on the side of attentiveness.

Focus on your first opportunity to show your value
While the day is probably full of introductions and orientation, you will soon have your first opportunity to demonstrate your worth to the organization. If you have a meeting with the big boss, make sure you prepare for it. While you could get away with walking into a meeting cold on your first day, if you take it as an opportunity to shine, you will make an excellent first impression on the job.

Take care of the paperwork and hoops-jumping quickly and completely
You will almost certainly have paperwork, and you will probably have to set up your email, get a new phone, get a laptop, and set up your voice mail as well. Go ahead and take care of these chores, and if you follow instructions carefully and treat everyone involved with respect, you’ll make a good impression there as well. Remember, you have been hired to take care of work for the company without being a problem. Many employees fail to do these simple administrative tasks excellently. As a result, they become a problem for someone somewhere in the company. It’s simple and stupid, so just take care of it.

Get up to speed on the workings of the company
Really study the training and/or marketing materials you are given. As people tell you about the company, the department, the clients, and the bosses, take some mental notes and maybe some physical notes as well. Again, you were brought on to do work and not be a problem. The less time you spend as a newbie, the better.

Compile a contacts list
When you’re given a name and number, put it in a word document. When you meet someone new, make a note of it on that same document. You’ll remember names more easily, and you won’t have sticky notes all over your desk. When you get in Outlook and you can look up everyone’s info, you can get rid of this document, but in the meantime, this will help you feel less dependent.

Don’t ask too many questions; trust the on-boarding process
If you’re eager to learn, it can be tempting to ask a lot of tangential questions. You’ve got enough to worry about for now by just taking what they are giving you. If something is unclear or if they ask if you have any questions, feel free to ask questions. Just be careful not to press for extra information as that can be taxing and even annoying. Make a list of your questions as they come up, and if at the end of the training, those questions haven’t been answered, you can pick a good time to ask the right people.

Demonstrate proactivity in your area of expertise when you have downtime
Many companies have informal on-boarding processes and limited staff available for training. You may find yourself at a computer or at your desk with little to do from time to time. Take this opportunity to do something productive. Begin to flesh out an idea, make an outline, work on your sales pitch, sketch some designs – whatever you’ve been hired to bring to the company, start doing your homework to make that a reality. Don’t make a show of it, just quietly use your time to get a head start.

Capture ideas for improving the company, just don’t share them yet
In your enthusiasm to make a good impression, you may want to share all of your great ideas with your boss or co-worker. Don’t be so quick to tell everyone what you think could be done differently, even if those great ideas are the reason you were hired. There will come a time for suggesting change, but it is usually a good idea to mostly just observe for a while. You never know which hastily offered suggestion for “improvement” will make you look foolish for misunderstanding the situation or offend someone who created the existing way of doing things. Do write your ideas down, though, as your fresh perspective will be likely to see things differently. Those ideas will be good later.

Socialize when socialized with but not before then
When someone settles near your workspace or when you meet them eye to eye, go ahead and introduce yourself. You’re the new kid on the block, and taking the initiative helps people who may be wondering whether you are a vendor, a contractor, or a new employee. That being said, extended chit-chat is something you should respond to but not initiate. You don’t yet understand the culture of the office, and you haven’t yet proved your worth. While you will want to break the ice and get to know your neighbors, a polite introduction will pave the way for them to dive deeper when they are ready to take a break. While it is your first day and you have relatively little to think about, there’s a good chance your co-workers are immersed in piles of work, and you don’t want to interrupt or distract.

Focusing on these tips will help you take a sometimes overwhelming situation and break it down into simple actions for a good first day. At the end of the day, you will feel confident in the work you’ve done, the impression you’ve made, and the outlook for your new job.