How to Make Every Moment Count on Your First Day of Work
April 9, 2017
After surviving a grueling round of interviews, the hardest part of starting a new job still lies ahead of you. Although most hiring managers don't expect recent graduates to have all the answers on the first day on the job, they are looking for confirmation that you're the right choice. Leave your anxiety at home, and focus on showing up enthusiastic, prepared and clear-headed to make a great impression on your first day of work.
Do Your Homework
Student life may be over, but learning should be a lifelong activity. One of the best ways to relieve new-job jitters is to study up on what to expect in your new environment. If you aren't already doing so, follow the company's social media pages to stay up to date on upcoming products and services or industry news that's important to your employer. When possible, use the company website or LinkedIn pages to familiarize yourself with the backgrounds of company leaders and people in your department so you can recognize management on your first day of work.
Err on the conservative side when you're meeting a new group of people. The last thing you want to do is behave too casually and commit an unforgivable faux pas your first day on the job. Play it safe while showing initiative. Request an employee handbook in advance to read up on policies such as payroll and checking personal email. Don't try to jump into the water cooler conversations on the first day of work. Listen and figure out ways to be useful.
You’re Not Going to Know Everything — Accept That
Starting a new job or internship can trigger panic because you're a novice entering a world of experts. If the experience you gained from academic clubs, sports teams or after-school jobs suddenly feels inadequate, you're not alone. Depending on the company culture, show up with a notepad or tablet to jot down everything you want to remember later, including co-workers' names. Keep a folder in your bag to organize any orientation materials you receive.
Even when you have substantial experience from previous internships, ask questions to find out how your new employer's workflow differs from past environments. Avoid faking it when you don't understand something on the first day of work. Companies are more likely to be impressed by new hires who are passionate and inquisitive than ones who make careless mistakes.
Research How to Dress for Work
Deciding what to wear should never consume your thoughts before your first day of work. Find out the right attire to wear by simply asking someone from Human Resources or the manager who hired you. Stick with a tried-and-true outfit that makes you feel confident instead of buying new clothes. After all, you don't want to spend all day in an uncomfortable suit or painful heels. Iron and lay out your clothes the night before to avoid rushing or overthinking it in the morning.
Earn Respect by Serving Others
A positive, humble attitude can show veteran employees you're a valuable asset to the team, increasing their willingness to help you learn. If you have a lot of downtime, seek out a supervisor or team member who needs help tackling busy work, whether it's making copies or organizing files. You gain an opportunity for one-on-one interaction where you can ask questions about the chain of command and how the team collaborates. Impressed colleagues may remember your initiative and return the favor or even give a glowing report to the boss. Take the initiative of reviewing orientation materials given on your first day of work or reviewing the company website if your colleagues are busy. The last thing you want to do when starting a new job is to sit there and do nothing.
Accept Lunch Invitations
When colleagues extend an invitation to lunch, accept it. Building relationships in the first few weeks of starting a new job is crucial for long-term success, as colleagues use these relaxed moments to find out more about what you bring to the table. Be yourself and genuinely listen to others, but don't forget to maintain a friendly, professional demeanor.
Co-workers are forming opinions that may be difficult to undo, so treat these social encounters as though they're unofficial interviews. If you find it hard to talk about yourself, prepare a short, introductory pitch explaining your background and your interest in the company. Ask questions about them or the work that they do.
Starting a new job can be a challenging transition for a recent graduate, making it smart to establish a routine before the big day. You don't have to be a perfect employee, but you do need to show your new co-workers that you can show up on time and be productive on the first day of work and the weeks that follow.
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