Work & Career
14 Things You Must Do on the First Day of a New Job
The first day of a new job can be just as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. Do these things and, not only will it be a success, you’ll set yourself up as a rising star.
Throw your hat in the ring
Don’t shy away from opportunities that may be presented to you on the first day of your job, says Addie Swartz, CEO and founder of reacHIRE. “Even if it’s beyond your initial job description, you can learn from new opportunities that stress your muscles and provide for greater visibility.” Don’t miss these 16 smart ways to get your boss to trust you.
Engage your sense of hearing
By putting your ear to the ground, you’ll not only deliver, but you may hear something that may enable you to add more value, says Swartz. When you report to your supervisor, tell her, “I heard you say X, so I did Y,” she adds. Don’t miss the worst mistakes of first-time job hunters.
Bring all the right documents
“On the first day, employees must always be sure to turn in any required paperwork (if not done ahead of time), especially a signed offer letter and proof they can work in the USA (immigration status),” says Lois Krause, a human resource expert and consultant with Kardaslarson.
Dress the part
“Make sure you understand the dress code before you start, so you do not get off on the wrong foot,” says Krause. Lay out your outfit and accessories the night before so they’re ready to go in the morning. If you’re not sure about the dress code, find out the things you should never wear to work.
Find out who your go-to is
Your manager will want to deal with the overall strategic direction of your position, but as a new employee, you’ll need to know who can answer general questions, says Krause. These can range from who to call for technical support? Where’s the mailroom? How does the coffee maker work? Ask your boss who you should go to for answers to these types of general questions.
Never ask for more money or extra benefits on the first day
“It makes you look like you are not concerned with contributing, only looking for “WIIFM” (What’s in it for me?),” says Krause. Here’s what you should never say in work emails.
Your first day at a new job is full of lots of new information and meeting new people. “You’ll want to be organized to ensure you keep everything straight,” says Rachel Jay, senior career writer for FlexJobs. “Start by writing it all down, even when you meet someone new. It’ll help you keep everything clear and prevent you from needing to ask for things to be explained over and over again.” Here are effortless ways to be more productive at work.
Ask about expectations
You’ll also want to get clear about what your boss expects from you. “Ask for some time on your first day to make sure you understand their needs regarding communication, task management, deadlines, and productivity,” says Jay.
Learn communication tools
Some teams thrive on email, and some only use messaging software. “You’ll want to quickly get onboard and familiar with any communication tools your team uses—especially if you’re working on a remote team,” suggests Jay.
Show up early
Try to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early on your first day. “Make a couple of trial runs during rush hour—whether in your own car or on mass transit—to see how long it will take to get to work,” suggests Dave Fogleman, chief learning officer and human resource expert, of SkillPath.
Focus on coworkers, not processes
No matter what size the company is, you’re going to meet many people on your first day. “Focus on them today and worry about the details of your job tomorrow. Be pleasant and ask them what they do. Concentrate on making personal connections,” says Fogleman.
Don’t be too judge-y
“While first impressions are important and can last a long time, don’t judge people, processes, or things too harshly on the first day. That cubicle mate that barely said hello to you might be kind of a jerk … or he may be on a tight deadline and didn’t have a moment to chat. Keep an open mind and remain positive,” says Fogleman. While you’re at it, try these proven tricks to make a good first impression.
If someone invites you to lunch … GO!
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The first day isn’t the time to brown bag it, so if a colleague asks you to go to lunch, accept, says Fogleman. “It’s a perfect opportunity to learn more about the corporate culture and some of the unwritten rules of working there. Be careful not to be swayed by gossip and don’t partake in it yourself.”
Try to make one great connection with a colleague
It’s always good to make connections with people that first day, even if it’s only for a few minutes. “Finding someone to connect with will accelerate your acclimation into your new job and will help you learn the lay of the land quicker,” says Fogleman. Try these strategies to build trust with a co-worker.