This is it; you’ve reached adulthood. You interviewed for your first professional job after college, you got the job, you accepted the offer, and now it’s time to start the next step in your career. You want to make a good first impression, both with your coworkers and your boss, but you feel a little bit lost on exactly what you should do and how you should prepare for your first day on the job.
There are steps you can take ahead of your first day on the job and on your first day to ensure a good first impression going forward. Start preparing before your start date by arriving ready to work, bringing the items necessary for the workplace and executing specific office guidelines.
How to Prepare for Your First Day at a New Job
Begin getting ready before your start date to be fully prepared. Use this pre-first day at a new job checklist to make sure you hit the ground running the morning of the big day.
- Dress to Impress: Your first day at work outfit should be appropriate to the business. Your place of work probably gave you a handbook before you started that should have dress code guidelines.
However, if they didn’t and you’re not sure whether it’s business casual or just business always err on the side of more formal. It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Pick out your clothes the night before and have them ready to go in the morning so you’re not rushing to choose something.
- Schedule Extra Commute Time: Give yourself plenty of time in the morning for the drive in. Map out the area you’ll be driving through, and the traffic. If you want to be extra safe, do a test run of the drive at the same time of day you’ll be leaving on a normal workday.
Work backward to determine what time you need to get up, and then set your alarm 15 minutes before that. Arriving late on your first day of work is incredibly embarrassing and, if the extra time wasn’t necessary, it doesn’t hurt to get there 15 minutes early. You still want to walk in the building on your assigned start time though, so you could always stop for coffee if you have time to kill.
- Have Breakfast Planned: You don’t want your stomach rumbling while you’re talking to your new boss or coworkers so definitely eat something in the morning. Decide what you’re going to make, or even better, prepare breakfast the night before, so you can grab and go. If you’re too nervous to eat, at least have some toast and bring a snack for later in the day when you start getting hunger pains.
- Remind Yourself Why You’re Doing This: First day of work nerves is very real. You’re going to feel anxious and will likely feel overwhelmed when you’re starting a new job. You can help combat the stress by writing down ahead of time all of the reasons you wanted this job and why you accepted it. Keep the paper on you and glance at it when your stress levels go up.
- Get Plenty of Zzzzz’s: It may be hard, but try and go to sleep at a reasonable time. There are several methods you can try to relax and nod off such as reading, journaling, watching a movie, listening to music, and stretching. Don’t plan on doing much the night before your start day so you can get everything together and relax for a few hours before bed.
What to Bring on Your First Day of Work
Your first day on the job advice also comes in the form on what to bring. You’ll want to have these things on hand when you walk in the door on your first day.
- Official Documents: Human Resources likely sent you a list of what to bring, such as a Driver’s License, photo ID, and banking information. If HR didn’t send you a list, still brings those items anyways.
- Pack a Bag: Put all the essentials in it, like a notebook, pen, a sweater (if you get cold easily), some money for lunch, a snack in case you go to lunch late and anything else you foresee needing the next day.
- Notebook and Pen: It’s stated above but worth mentioning again. It’s better to have a more professional notebook than the one you would use in a college class. Use the notebook and pen to write down everything related to your position, such as where office supplies are kept or how email messages should be formatted. You want to avoid asking a question when you’ve already been given the answer.
- Questions and Ideas: Be proactive and come prepared with some smart questions related to the company or department. Questions can be related to office culture, job expectations and manager preferences. You can also have good ideas for projects you know you’ll be working on in your new role. Your boss will be impressed that you came ready to start working.
- Have Small Talk Topics: You’re probably not sure what to say on your first day at work and are worried about making the wrong comment at the wrong time. Combat this by having a list of topics you can discuss when you meet people.
Topics can be a TV show you’re watching, new movies coming out in theaters or any holidays on the horizon. Common points of interest will save you from awkward pauses in conversation or making a comment you might blurt out and regret.
First Day on the Job Tips
You passed the initial phase for the first day of work anxiety once you’re in the building. Now you’re on to the second stage: the official first day at work. These tips for the first day at a new job will help your first day of work experience to be positive and get you started on the right foot.
- Make a Good First Impression: You’ll be meeting a lot of employees on your first day. Greet everyone with a smile, a friendly “hello,” and a handshake. Your manager will likely introduce you to everyone in your department but still say “hi” to everyone you pass in the hallway.
After all, you don’t know anyone there, so you could be speaking with the CEO. Being friendly sets the tone and your boss and co-workers will remember how happy and eager you are to be on the team.
- Stay Off Your Phone: Reference the company manual for their exact policy on personal cell phones. To start though, it’s best to keep your phone away from you. You don’t want your new workplace to think you have better things to do than focus on your new position. Also, keep your phone on vibrate or silent so the person next to you doesn’t get berated with your ringtone and notifications all day.
- Remember Names: This one can be a little difficult, but at least try to remember names from the people directly in your department. When you’re introduced to someone, repeat their name several times in your head and it if helps, write down their name when you go back to your desk.
- Listen and Learn: There’s a good chance your manager is not going to expect much out of you on your first day. Use that to your advantage by absorbing everything around you. Pay attention to how your boss and coworkers speak, how they work, how they interact and the general feeling throughout the department and the building.
Keep an open mind to what you see and hear. Your desire to learn will make you better equipped to produce good work and have good inter-office relations as you’ll know what to expect.
- Take Up the Lunch Invite: Accept the offer if your boss or coworkers invite you to go to lunch. Lunch is a great opportunity to converse with them in a casual setting, learn more about them personally, start establishing trust as a worthy coworker and get an inside look into the work environment. This is a good time to ask questions and acclimate yourself to office personalities.
Finally, do your best to shake off those new job jitters and be excited that you’re embarking on a new career journey. Trust that you’re going to be as prepared as possible and you’re headed in the right direction. Use job search apps to keep you focused and prepared. Focus on making a good first impression and know that, if all goes well, your first day at work is just the beginning of many great things to come.