nervous for first day of work

Nervous for First Day of Work? 10 Easy Tips to Help You Not Blow It

Last edit July 13, 2023

It's quite fascinating how being nervous for first day of work is a universal feeling among many, regardless of their career stage. Makes sense when you think about the whirlwind of uncertainties we run into on day one.

The strange mix of excitement and worry, the thrill of a new challenge and not to mention, the bunch of new faces you're going to be seeing a lot of, can definitely get the butterflies going.

But it doesn’t have to be all that terrifying. 

With a solid game plan and the right attitude, you'll knock the first day out of the park. Hint: don't turn down an invite for lunch. 

To help you with that, we've got 10 simple but totally effective tips to ace your first day at work. 

10 tips to tackle 'nervous for first day of work' anxiety

Ready to crush those first-day jitters? Here’s your battle plan — 10 actionable tips for mastering your first day at work:

  1. Ask and prepare questions to understand your role and environment better.
  2. Be on time and dress appropriately, as it sets the tone for success.
  3. Show interest in your team by introducing yourself or asking about them.
  4. Take notes of any access codes, impromptu meetings, or names you'll forget.
  5. Feel out the vibe by observing how your colleagues behave, and then matching it.
  6. Go along with social activities like coffee runs, lunch outings, or after-work events.
  7. Hold the risky jokes until you understand the office humor.
  8. Avoid office gossip, it's a surefire way to remain professional and respectful.
  9. Learn everyone's names by repeating them in conversations.
  10. Don't overshare and set personal boundaries to have a healthy work-life balance.

Sounds straightforward, right? Now, let's look at each tip one more closely.

1. Ask and prepare questions

To ease that initial nervous for the first day of work anxiety, there's a powerful strategy to get you up to speed — asking questions. A lot of them. 

And if you can't think of any on the spot, prepare some.

Coming straight out with your questions helps create an excellent first impression, avoids any awkward situations in the future, and provides you with clear direction.

Here are five specific questions you can ask when nervous for first day of work:

  1. Could you walk me through a typical day in my role?
  2. Who should I contact if there are problems?
  3. Is there someone specific I should meet this week?
  4. Where's the go-to spot for coffee breaks or after-work gatherings? 
  5. Are there any immediate tasks or projects I'll be focusing on during my first week?

Having your questions at hand will boost your confidence, dissolve any uneasiness, and set you on course for a solid start.

2. Be on time and dress appropriately

You need to remember two vital things for acing that first-day impression — show up on time and dress up right. 

To avoid coming late, plan your commute ahead. Add extra time in case anything goes wrong.

As for your clothing, dressing appropriately speaks volumes before you utter a word. It's not necessary to "dress to impress" every day, but a too casual approach might not work in your favor.

So, instead of telling you what to wear (because you know, we all like different things), let's look at what not to wear.

Here's a quick list of what's usually a no-go:

  • Flip flops
  • Overly ripped jeans
  • Low-cut or crop tops
  • Anything with giant logos or loud slogans
  • Super short skirts or shorts

Remember, when in doubt, you should find out about the company culture. If it's a corporate job, you should probably dress up a bit more. If it's a startup, you can be more laid back.

  • tip
  • Pro tip

    Have a look at the company’s social media profile to see if there are any pictures from the office and see what people wear.

3. Show interest in your team

First of all, introduce yourself properly. It's basic, but super important. Just a casual "Hi, I'm [Your Name], nice to meet you" will do. It breaks the ice and gets the ball rolling. But don't just stop there! 

Ask your new colleagues about their:

  • Roles in the team
  • Time spent in the company
  • Favorite lunch spot in the area
  • Advice as a newcomer to the company
  • Coffee preferences (or other common office breaks)

Showing genuine interest in your team doesn't just make you likable, it also helps in building strong work relationships. 

4. Take notes

New job, new faces, and tons of new info, right? That first day sure can feel like a total information overload! And let's be fair to ourselves, our brains aren't really built to soak up everything at once. 

So, here's a winning strategy —  take notes. It's old-school but trust us, it works. 

Grab a notebook and write down everything from access codes to names of key contacts or any specific procedures your new role requires. 

Got an impromptu meeting? Note it down. Heard a name you know you won't remember? Scribble it. 

This isn't just about helping your memory out, it's about keeping on top of things right from the get-go. Taking notes isn't just practical, it also shows your new team that you're keen, organized and mean serious business. 

Nervous for first day of work

5. Feel out the vibe (when in Rome, do as the Romans do)

Every workplace has its own rhythm and flow — some are always on the go with not much time for chit-chat, while others love a good coffee catch-up or a laugh over a funny Youtube video.

The trick here is to watch and learn

  • If your new colleagues are all about quiet concentration and getting the job done, follow suit. No one appreciates a newbie breaking their concentration for a casual chat. 
  • But if you notice people taking breaks, having a quick laugh, or chatting over a cup of coffee, then that's your cue. Head over, join the conversation, and show them your sociable side.

Taking the time to understand the office vibe will help you seamlessly tune in with your team. It's all about balance, really. When in Rome, do as the Romans do, as they say — or when in the office, do as your colleagues do!

6. Go along with social activities

Office life isn’t all about spreadsheets and meetings, it’s about building relationships, too.

Here are a few go-to moves to help you get started:

  • Say yes to that coffee or lunch invite. You'll get to know your team in a more informal setting.
  • Join an after-work event or a Friday night hangout. These are great opportunities for bonding with your colleagues.
  • If you're a smoker and notice a colleague heading out for a smoke break, consider joining them (remember, it's not the healthiest habit, though).

And, if by any chance your first day of work is in December, hang tight and give Christmas at work a go.

Being social isn't about neglecting your work; it's about building bridges and becoming a part of the community. So, say yes to those invites, and get involved!

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7. Hold the risky jokes (though we know those are the funniest)

We all love a hilarious joke to break the ice, especially when nervous for first day of work. But here's the deal: not all jokes fly in the workplace, especially risky ones.

Even though you have the best intentions, you never really know what could offend someone or trigger some unpleasant feelings. Gen Z is particularly serious about this.

When you're the new kid on the block, it's smart to play it safe until you really get the office humor vibe. Remember, the last thing you want is a misunderstanding on the first day.

However, here's a list of topics you should always steer clear of:

  • Race or ethnic jokes
  • Religion
  • Sexist jokes
  • Politics
  • Sexual orientation
  • Controversial topics like abortion, gun control, etc.

The bottom line? Be mindful of your humor content till you know the temperature of the room. And even then, always stay away from the listed topics. Trust us; a respectful chuckle is much better than an awkward silence!

8. Stay away from office gossip

Stepping into a new job is like walking onto the set of a never-ending TV show. There's always some drama brewing or a story unfolding. But here's a pro tip: steer clear of the office gossip. 

Sure, it can be tempting to get the inside scoop on office happenings or to bond over shared whispers. But getting involved in office gossip on the first day isn't a good idea.

So, if you find yourself amid a gossip crew, here's what you do:

  • Don't entertain the conversation: Just stay quiet and don't ask. 
  • Change the topic: "So, any recommendations for lunch around here?"
  • Or keep it straightforward: "I'd rather not get into office gossip."

By steering clear of office gossip, you preserve your professionalism, protect your integrity, and keep your work environment positive.

Oh, and if someone from your new coworkers catches your eye, check our guide on approaching office romance.

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9. Learn everyone's names

Here's the thing — names matter, a lot. Remembering and using someone's name is a subtle way to show respect and make them feel valued. 

Plus, nothing screams "I'm committed!" quite like saying hi to your new colleague, "Dave from accounting," using his actual name.  

Of course, remembering all those names on your first day may feel like you're prepping for a memory championship.

So, here are a few strategies to help you remember your colleagues' names:

  • Repeat their names during the conversation: "Nice to meet you, Dave!"
  • Associate their names with any distinctive features to help your recall.

Nailing this not only gets you remembered but also leaves the team super impressed!

10. Don't overshare and set your personal boundaries

New job, new buddies, and for sure, a million new conversations about everything under the sun. It's totally okay to share details about your life and interests, in fact, it's great for bonding with your new team! 

But remember, there's a fine line between sharing and oversharing.

And we all know how easy it is to overshare when we're nervous for that first day of work. So, keep your conversations light and don't dive into your personal life or past job grievances right off the bat. People love to gossip, especially when it concerns you as a new colleague, so make sure you stay professional.

This brings us to another crucial point: setting personal boundaries. Everyone needs a healthy work-life balance, and that starts with setting clear boundaries.

Here's how you can set yours:

  • Politely decline if you're asked to work beyond your work hours regularly.
  • Refrain from adding everyone on your private social media accounts.
  • If sharing personal mobile numbers isn't compulsory, consider keeping it limited to work contact info.

FAQ: Nervous for first day of work

  • What should I do on my first day of work?

    On your first day at work, aim to arrive early and dress appropriately. Spend your day learning about your new role, asking questions, taking notes, observing the office dynamics, and getting to know your team. Be positive and show enthusiasm for your new role.

  • What should I say on the first day of work?

    Primarily focus on introducing yourself, asking thoughtful questions and generally being friendly. Try to remember people's names by using them in conversation, and say "please" and "thank you".

    It's also a good time to make small talk to help establish rapport with your new colleagues. Ask about their roles, their time in the company, or where the best lunch spot is.

  • How do you introduce yourself on the first day of work?

    When it's time to introduce yourself on the first day, it's best to keep it concise and amiable. Say something like:

     "Hi, I'm [Your Name], your new [Your Job Title]. I'm really looking forward to working and learning with all of you. I've heard great things about this team." 

    This approach is both professional and friendly, setting the foundation for effective workplace relationships.

  • How should I act on first day at a new job?

    On your first day at a new job, it's crucial to be professional, punctual, and respectful. Observe your workplace culture, interact with your colleagues, ask thoughtful questions, and establish boundaries. And remember, steer clear of office gossip!

Are you still nervous for the first day of work? 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.

  • Klara Cervenanska, Junior Writer at Kickresume
  • Klara Cervenanska
    Career Writer
    Klara recently graduated from the University of St Andrews in Scotland. After having written resumes for many of her fellow students, she got an opportunity to write full-time for Kickresume. Klara is our go-to person for all things related to student or 'no experience resumes'. At the same time, she has written some of the most popular resume advice articles on this blog. When she's not writing, you'll probably find her chasing dogs or people-watching while sipping on a cup of coffee.

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