So you’ve managed to bag yourself a great new job.
Congratulations! The tough bit’s over… or is it?
With your first day swiftly approaching, you may start to feel just a little bit nervous, a little bit underprepared and a little bit hesitant.
Do something about it!
There are ways to prepare yourself before you even set foot through the door.
1. Plan your outfit
There is nothing worse than walking into the office on your first day and realising that you’re outrageously underdressed.
You’re bound to feel a little uncomfortable and it’s not going to look great to your new employers either.
So, I always recommend planning your first day outfit early.
During the interview you may have been able to pick up on the office dress code, but if not, all you have to do is drop a line to your new boss (or any other contact you might have) and ask!
This will take the pressure off you to make a decision.
Alternatively, if the company are heavily-involved in social media, you might be able to check out their profile and see what kinds of things employees wear. Or you could check out the “About Us” page of their website.
Recruiter Pro Tip
It’s always better to appear too smart than too casual (at least it looks like you care).
And during your first week, it’s important to keep up that effort, even if others around you don’t.
Remember, you’re still trying to make a good impression, your co-workers have (probably) already proved themselves.
If you look good, you’ll feel good so why not go splurge on a whole new outfit?
2. Stalk your co-workers (online)
Your first day in the office is going to be a blur of names, rules, roles and regulations.
So to give yourself a bit of a head start so you can fit into the team that little bit easier, it’s always a good idea to do some research, before you start.
Using LinkedIn, Facebook and even Twitter, get to know the kinds of people you’ll be working with, their names (if possible), roles and the kind of company culture you’ll be entering.
This will just help you to remember more on the day, adapt your behaviour to impress other people and come across well-informed and perceptive.
NB: make sure your LinkedIn profile is on anonymous or you might come across a bit eager!
3. Research the company
You should have done some research about the company, prior to your interview.
It’s a good idea to go over it again, familiarising yourself with the company, industry and what your job actually entails.
Also, if you have any questions, it’s a good idea to get them off your chest during the first week (without going completely overboard of course).
This will help you to look and feel confident, knowledgeable and prepared.
4. Ask your boss
It’s always a good idea to email your new boss, prior to your start date and ask them what they’re expecting from you in your first week.
- Is there anything they’d like you to bring?
- Any preparation or research they’d like you to do?
- What kind of things will you even be doing?
If you get some things done, prior to your first week at work, then your initial workload won’t be as overwhelming – and your boss is bound to be dead impressed.
So, do you finish your current job on a Friday and start the new one on Monday?
Don’t go too wild over the weekend, for goodness sake!
You really don’t want to be feeling tired, worn-out (or on the bitter end of a two-day hangover) on your first day. It’s just going to make you feel more anxious and sluggish.
Instead, taking a nice, relaxing weekend will rejuvenate you and put you in great spirits.
6. Prepare some light conversation
“Weather’s bad today… isn’t it?” *Shudders. *
OK, I know this might seem a little bit overboard, but if you’re not a naturally chatty person, then that scary, awkward small-talk when you first meet someone can be a nightmare.
So, why not practice?
Think about the kinds of things that will make you seem interested and interesting (try to
avoid all conversation about the weather).
7. Practice the commute.
On your first day, you really want to be arriving between 15 and 30 minutes early.
You’ll look committed, prompt and it will give you chance to settle in and say your “hellos” before the working day commences.
Of course, traffic, train delays and/or unforeseen circumstances could all affect your journey, so I recommend practicing your commute before you actually start.
Even better, practice it at the time you would normally be going to work (so you know what the traffic or trains are like at that time – and you don’t get lost).
8. Bring stationery
One would hope that your new company will be well prepared with all the stationery and equipment you need to get your job done.
But you never know.
So I always advise new-starters to take the most important things with them like pens, a pad of paper and a calculator (if you need it).
9. Enjoy yourself
My final piece of advice for you..? Enjoy the transition!
During those first few weeks, you actually have a little leeway to make mistakes, act clueless and generally just settle in… so what is there to panic about?
In a year’s time, you’ll look back and think all of your fears were silly.
Of course, now that you’ve done all the pre-first-day prep, it’s time to think about the day itself!
There are a number of things that will smooth things along and help you to make a great impression.
Here are somethings you can do to make a good first impression.
1. Get ready to introduce yourself…a lot.
I highly recommend coming up with a standard couple of lines about yourself – particularly if your previous work history is complicated – so that you don’t get tongue twisted during the inevitable 100,000,001 times you’re going to have to introduce yourself!
Be ready to answer:
- So what will you be doing with us?
- Where did you work before?
- Where do you live?
- Do you drive into work?
Questions like these may seem a bit cliché, but small talk is just your colleagues’ kind way of trying to make you feel welcome!
2. Smile like you mean it.
No matter what goes through your head during the day, keep that frown, upside down!
Those of you who suffer from “resting bitch face” should particularly heed this warning!
Walking out with a big grin plastered across your face may not seem natural to you, but it’s a vitally important step to coming across friendly and approachable.
3. Memorise names.
Every time you’re introduced to someone, do everything in your power to memorise their name!
Try word association, repeating it over and over again in your head or (if you have a chance) subtly write it down on a piece of paper.
Your new colleagues are bound to be impressed if you genuinely remember who they are.
Recruiter Pro Tip
I used to create my own little seating plan when I started at a new workplace (inconspicuously of course) making it a little easier to remember names.
(Usually with the help of a friendly colleague I trusted, filling in the gaps with me.)
4. Be enthusiastic and positive.
This is obviously a given.
Make sure that your body language is giving across the right, enthusiastic, ‘happy-to-be-here’ impression.
(See ‘resting bitch face’!.’)
5. Be proactive.
Have you ever felt like a burden during your first day of work?
Don’t worry we’ve all felt it; that nervous confusion when you’re not sure exactly what you should be doing and don’t really want to bother the boss!
Just do it!
I guarantee that your new manager is going to be a lot more annoyed if you’ve sat around doing nothing for an hour, than if you’ve taken initiative, spoken up and asked about your next task!
6. Ask for help.
In the same vein, if you’re struggling to complete a task, because you lack the knowledge, experience or skills, ask your boss, or a relevant colleague to help.
From simple things like logging into your computer to complex technical issues; asking is always better than ignoring the problem and wasting time.
7. Work out the rules.
Your contract will outline all of the more important rules about what you can and cannot do at your workplace, from working hours and holidays to social media and clothing.
But there are also a lot of unwritten rules that you’ll have to look out for like ‘don’t eat hot food at the desk,’ ‘don’t throw food waste into the paper bins’ and ‘don’t put the air conditioning on without asking Jane (who sits beneath it!).’
Be on your guard during your first day (and first week) to suss out the dos and don’ts and try not to step on any toes.
8. Bring lunch.
If your colleagues or boss invite you out for lunch – GO!
This is your chance to bond and make friends, showing what a great, friendly person you are.
However, you should also bring lunch with you as a back-up plan, in case everyone brings a packed lunch to munch in the kitchen, eats at their desk or pops out on errands at lunchtime.
Bring something simple to eat – like a sandwich – so you’re ready for all types of lunchtime situations.
But most importantly; don’t bring smelly food! Do you really want to be known for making the entire office stink of fish?
9. Make effort with colleagues.
Within a few hours of being in the office, you’ll probably have worked out who you want to be friends with (and who you really don’t).
Align yourselves with people like yourself, but do be careful, you don’t want to find yourself as part of a ‘bitch clique’ too early on – this could lead other staff members to avoid you.
10. However, don’t be a “try-hard”.
Don’t overdo it!
You don’t want to look too desperate to make new friends.
If you get the feeling that someone doesn’t want to talk to you, move on and act cool!
11. Don’t overshare.
It’ll take you a while to work out who your trustworthy and not-so-trustworthy colleagues are, so don’t go spilling intimate secrets on your first day, no matter how well you’re getting on with someone.
Be professional, share conversationally (it’s perfectly fine to reveal that you have a husband and two children etc…) but don’t take it too far!
Certainly don’t reveal any information that could be used against you in the future!
12. Don’t bitch.
Stay out of the drama.
Most offices will have their fair share of tension and bitching – it’s an inevitability of spending so much time around the same people – just don’t get involved!
Even if colleagues approach you, be polite, smile and nod, but make it clear that you’ve only been there for a short time so you can’t possibly comment!
(Men who are reading this and thinking ‘well men don’t bitch, so this has nothing to do with me’ – you’re not fooling anyone.)
13. Don’t be a know-it-all!
Trust me, there’s nothing worse than a new employee who turns up and acts like they own the place!
There is always something new to learn at every new workplace and always someone more experienced to teach you (unless you’re the business owner of course…)
Replying to every suggestion with a ‘but at my last place, we did…’ is not a good move.
14. Be prepared to stay late!
The job might have been advertised as 9 – 5, but in this day and age, how often is that the reality?
When it reaches the end of the day, stick around and try and suss out the situation! Don’t be the first to leave.
If you run out of things to do, then again, be proactive and ask your boss – he’ll no doubt send you on your way.
For now at least, you need to prove that you’re willing to go the extra mile!
15. Turn up on time.
This is so obvious that I don’t even know why I’m typing it…
If you’re late on your first day – it’ll be an immediate big fat red mark against your name!
16. Dress to Impress.
Now, it is important to look a little smarter than usual on your first day, but you don’t want to go overboard.
If you show up in a power suit while everyone else is in smart jeans and a t-shirt, then you’re probably going to come across as unapproachable and intimidating.
I recommend getting in touch with HR before starting and asking them for an example of what to wear.
Above all, else, relax!
Stressing yourself out over the little things isn’t going to do you any good and it’s going to come across badly to your colleagues too – “who’s the quiet little mouse in the office?”
If you’re a worrier, then at least act calm (easier said than done, I know).
Put a smile on your face, keep your back straight and chin up…it’ll be over before you know it!
Recruiter Pro Tip.
These are the UK’s most hated office habits according to HR Grapevine, so I’d steer away from them if I were you…
- Being regularly late
- Whining all the time
- Eating stinking food
- Taking lots of cigarette breaks
- Deliberately taking a long time to do something/constant procrastination
- Not replacing things that run out
- Talking on the phone too loudly
- Having bad hygiene
- Spraying deodorants, aftershaves and perfumes at desk
- Coming to work when very ill
- Texting/using mobile phone all day
- Having an untidy desk
- Talking too much about private life
- Invading personal space
- Not making a tea round
- Constantly tapping/clicking pens/typing too loud
- Stealing other people’s food/lunch
- Using jargon
It’s also worth keeping your body language in check! You can reveal an awful lot about yourself, just from a blink of the eye!