23 Tips to Rock Your First Day at Work

First day calendar mark

Do you remember your first day at school? You were anxious about fitting in, making new friends and doing well in your classes. Fast-forward 10-15 years, where your first day at work isn’t much different. This time, however, you’re not in the same boat with everyone else, as you’re walking into an environment where relationships have already been formed and you are the outsider trying to conform.

You never know what to expect on the first day of a new job, but what you do know is that you need to set a great first impression. To push the nerves aside and jumpstart your first day with ease, follow these top tips!

1. Get an Early Night

Don’t rock up on your first day of work with just a few hours of sleep; there’s nothing worse than yawning through your first eight hours and struggling to keep your eyes open past 2pm – there is no amount of coffee that’s going to save you. The trick is to start setting yourself an appropriate bedtime at least a few nights before so your body gets used to some kind of routine.

2. Don’t Be Shy

Being shy will get you nowhere on your first day. Reach out and introduce yourself to people if your manager or trainer hasn’t already done this. Try to remember names while doing this as it’ll help you form relationships with your new colleagues.

3. Be Confident

When I say confident, I don’t mean ‘sit there and chat with your colleagues all day’. Rather, have an open body language, smile and be welcoming. Being fair and truthful will impress your new team members instead of being an attention-grabber (that will soon put them off).

4. Don’t Throw Demands Around

There’s nothing worse than throwing demands around on your first day that you didn’t already discuss during the interview process. You can’t turn up on your first day and say something like, ‘By the way, I have to leave early on Fridays to pick up my daughter from school!’ JT O'Donnell, founder of Careerealism, says: ‘If you hadn't talked about that prior to joining, landing in the new job and suddenly dropping these kinds of bombs on them really shows a lack of communication and respect on your part.’

5. Make Your Own Judgements

The office gossip has already streamlined you and is getting you up-to-speed on office politics. Be polite but don’t engage in any bashing. You need to make your own judgements on the workplace and the people there. Listen and observe how people act before you dig yourself into a hole.

6. Put Your Phone on Silent

You need to be present and focused at work, especially on your first day. Keep your phone on silent and tucked away in your bag or coat pocket to resist temptation. Figure out the ropes and settle in before you place your phone on your desk.

7. Have High Energy

The start of a new job is when most employees are enthusiastic. The process of securing the job might have been long, hard and exhausting, but embrace the fact that you’ve actually bagged yourself a job and begin with high spirits!

8. Learn How People Communicate

It’s important to figure out how employees communicate with each other in the workplace as it can differ between companies and environments. Some might prefer in-person discussions, while others might use an internal message device or email.

9. Figure out What the Office Culture Is

You might not fully figure out what the office etiquette is on your first day, but you will definitely get insight into the common behaviours and processes. Some offices may be more relaxed than others, but that doesn’t mean you should be super laidback in your first couple of weeks. You must remember at all times that you’re trying to make a good impression.

10. Dress Appropriately

Choosing the right outfit and following the correct dress code is important. If you’re unsure of what to wear, don’t be afraid to call the HR department and find out. There’s nothing worse than rocking up on your first day in denim jeans only to discover everyone else is in business wear - all because you happened to interview on a casual Friday.

11. Don’t Force Relationships

True bonds form naturally; whether you like it or not, you’re not going to find your work wife and be inseparable from day one. Relationships take a while to form, so be yourself and over time you’ll feel more comfortable with your peers.

12. Get to Know the Basics

If you’re not shown where the essentials are (ie: coffee, toilet, breakroom, printer, etc) and how the phone system works, don’t be afraid to ask. You want to know the basics, and your mentor may just have way too many things on their mind to remember these details. A good piece of advice is to ask whether you should answer your colleague’s phone if they are away from their desk; this shows that you’re using your initiative and are keen to get stuck in.

13. Prepare an Elevator Pitch

Get ready to give a 30-second speech of who you are, what you did previously and why you decided to work at the organisation. People will be interested to find out more about you, and these are the most common questions that will come up on your first day. And as Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert in the US, says: ‘You can reduce your anxiety by being as meticulous in planning your first day as you were in securing your new position.’

14. Be Early

Be early – but not too early! Your trainer or manager will most likely be preparing last-minute details for your arrival and you won’t want to catch them unprepared. Give yourself enough time to set off allowing for you to get to your new workplace around 15 minutes early; even if you are sat in the reception for that time, you can relax and take in your new surroundings.

15. Smile

You’ve got a new job, probably one that you’ve been dreaming of for a long time. You may feel a little intimidated on your first day, but you must remember to smile. Smiling relaxes your brain, calms your nerves and shows that you’re an approachable person.

16. Don’t Turn Down Lunch

If you’re offered to have lunch with your new coworkers or boss, make sure you accept the invitation! You should be keen to mingle with your new team – even if you brought in packed lunch (just save it for another day).

17. Learn Professional Rules

On your first day, you should be given a list of your responsibilities; this will be your first point of reference for company rules. In actuality, they might sway from the document, but you will only figure that out with time – so, until then, follow the rules that are written in your handbook.

18. Show Interest

This is an obvious but vital point if you want to succeed. Show interest in everyone you meet and everything you’re being shown, regardless of whether you already know it. There is nothing worse than training a new employee that has drifted off into space and is thinking about what to have for dinner rather than the instructions they are being given.

19. Be Yourself

Above all, it’s important to stay true to yourself and try not to conform to a version you think you should be. It’s hard to keep up an act, so why bother? If you’re super nervous, pretend you’re meeting people at a networking event – that should alleviate the pressure.

20. Get Contact Details

If you don’t already have the contact details of the HR department or your manager, be sure to get them early on. You never know when you’ll be sick or stuck in a problem that will keep you away from work.

21. Have a Positive Attitude

Having a positive attitude is essential, whether it’s Day 1 or 101. Show your enthusiasm for being part of the organisation and team (without overdoing it!) and show your can-do approach. It’s essential to leave any personal problems at the door when you enter your workplace!

22. Ask Questions

Don’t be scared to ask questions on your first day; you won’t be expected to know it all and any queries will be welcomed by your new team. It’ll show that your interested and eager to progress. On the other hand, don’t feel like you need to learn everything on Day One – you will have plenty of time to get to grips with new processes and expectations.

23. Don’t Be a Know-it-All

Nobody likes a know-it-all! Even if you think that you have a better method or understanding of a programme, never say it on your first day. Wait until you have fully understood how things work and offer suggestions when you have eased into the team.

Your first day at work should be exciting – so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. With these tips, you should be equipped on how to handle anything your first day throws at you.

Are you starting a new job and are unsure about any of the above? Let us know your concerns in the comments section below…