To drastically misquote Bob Dylan—How many times must a person experience a first day at work before it becomes less awkward?
Nowadays, people change their jobs and careers as often as they change their underwear. You too are likely to go through many first days at work in your lifetime.
The good news is, you can easily make it exciting instead of terrifying by following a few simple guidelines. We present to you 9 Awesome Tips to Help You Not Screw Up on Your First Day at Work.
Intentionally or not, people are quick to judge others. According to Willis and Todorov, it only takes 1/10th of a second to make a first impression.
Luckily, our experience says that you have at least the entirety of your first week to correct (or cement) that impression. Unless you're a police puppy that is, in which case you've already mastered the art of impressing everyone your first day at work.
If you're a planning freak like me, you might find this hour-by-hour survival guide handy. If you're not as easily stressed, 9 quick tips will more than suffice. Good luck!
Table of Contents
Click on a section to skip
1. Show on time and dress appropriately
Don’t be late on your first day at work. If you arrive late, you've already left a bad first impression before you even had a chance to enter the room.
To avoid this simple mistake, plan your commute ahead. Add extra time in case anything goes wrong.
And trust me, it’s exactly on days like these that things are predestined to go south from the beginning.
Know your company’s dress code. If you're required to wear a uniform, keep in mind that restrictions apply to all accessories, hair, and makeup. If you're in doubt, contact your HR.
2. Show diligence and avoid distractions
A foolproof recipe on how to screw up your first day at work is to slack off. Don’t be that person. Stay professional and keep your phone away to avoid any distractions. Make sure to stick to your break times and limit the chit-chat.
3. Learn and listen before you speak
Familiarize yourself with the job and the company. According to Robert Sofia’s advice, “before you try to change the game, you must first learn how to play it.”
Take the first days to listen and learn about the company and their practices. Once you've built trust and proven yourself useful, you'll have plenty of opportunities to be more bold and critical.
For now, keep an open mind and observe your new work environment.
Additionally, when starting a new job, be ready to take on a variety of tasks. You'll show your commitment and willingness to learn. Stay flexible and you'll soon get a complex grasp of the company.
4. Ask questions
At every company, first days at work look different. Either you spend them in training or they throw you right into the deep.
Whatever the case, your first week at work is the time to listen and take in as much as you can.
At the same time, if you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask. Or even better, prepare a few questions beforehand. This will show your interest in the company, its strategies, and plans.
5. Get to know the team
Approach your line manager and learn about the company’s structure. This is also a good time to clarify any uncertainties about your job description.
Chuck Cohn highlights that "it's critical to understand how you fit into the larger organization and what each part of the company actually does.”
Take the time to learn people’s position and specialization. You'll benefit down the line when you start collaborating on larger projects.
6. Earn respect
To establish your position on a new team is no less challenging task than handling your new job itself. We have one simple, yet effective piece of advice for you.
If you want to earn respect, be good at your job. If you prove to be useful in the first week, you'll gain trust from your colleagues and management at the same time.
7. Build relationships
Good teamwork is crucial for a successful company. First days in a new job are an ideal opportunity to build relationships with your coworkers. You can either craft a group email or take a walk around the office and introduce yourself.
Take some time to get to know your colleagues. Ask them where are they from, how long they have been with the company, and what their role is.
By showing interest, you'll break the ice and start building new relationships. Your new colleagues will also be curious about you.
Quick tip: Prepare an elevator pitch about yourself.
8. Be yourself from day one
Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert emphasized the importance of staying yourself in a new job. “It's stressful to try to be someone else, so why bother? You want some consistency in who you are on day one and day 31.”
You'll soon have to engage with your co-workers on various tasks in a number of different environments. Staying honest about yourself will show that you are responsible and trustworthy.
9. Set your personal boundaries
On the one hand, you want to be close with your new coworkers, but when it comes to your personal life, be careful.
Your first day isn’t an appropriate time to share intimate information at work, even if you think it would help you bond with others. People love to gossip, especially when it concerns you as a new colleague, so make sure you stay professional.
Regardless of whether your first day is a success or not try to stay positive. Remind yourself of what made you to get into that job in the first place.