Making the transition from one job to another has the potential to be quite stressful. You have to start a whole new routine, meet new people and adjust to new duties and responsibilities.
The first day is important: you want to ensure that you make a good impression and get your head round the ins and outs of your role.
The night before
If your first day is to go as smoothly as possible, there are a few key things to prepare the night before. Have your bag packed with a pen and notebook, lunch or snack, a water bottle and any other bits and pieces you think you’ll need. Plan your commute and make sure you allow plenty of time to arrive bright and early. You should check the weather as well, as this may affect traffic or trains.
Your outfit is another thing you’ll want to sort out the night before. You should make sure you look professional – it’s even fine to be a little overdressed on the first day. If you haven’t been given a specific dress code, wearing something similar to what you wore to the interview – or what the interviewer wore – is the best place to start.
Remember your pen and notebook? You’ll need these because you’re going to want to take lots of notes. It’s pretty much a given that you’ll be thrown a lot of new information about systems, policies, procedures and so on, but it can be hard to remember so many new things when they all come at once. Write things down and you’ll be able to refer back to your notes over the first few weeks until it all sinks in.
It’s not just new procedures you’ll need to learn on your first day – you’re going to meet plenty of new people as well. Make sure you smile and introduce yourself to everyone you come across. You may even want to prepare something quick to say about who you are and what you’ll be doing.
If you forget someone’s name, don’t worry about it and just ask them again. An apology and a joke like “I’ve met so many people today!” will help you avoid an awkward situation the next time you meet face to face.
Ask for help
No one expects you to know everything on the first day or pick up everything on the first go. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to clarify things you don’t understand. This is not the time to pretend you know everything. It’s better to ask at an early stage than to muddle through for weeks before asking the same question anyway, which can be much more embarrassing.
In addition to asking questions, make sure you listen to the answers. Don’t interrupt or look away while someone is explaining something to you. You don’t want to come across as a know-it-all. Listening well can go a long way in earning your colleagues’ respect.
Away from your desk
While it may not seem like a priority, it is just as important to know where the coffee machine is as it is how to log into your computer. Ask for a quick tour of the office if it isn’t offered, and try to pay attention to key places such as the toilets, stationery cupboard and kitchen.
Say ‘yes’ to lunch
If you’re invited to eat with your new boss or colleagues, do so. This is the perfect opportunity to chat about topics other than work and get to know people a bit better. It’s also a great way for your new colleagues to get to know you.
No personal business
Leave your personal business for your personal time, especially on your first day. Keeping your phone off and in your pocket or bag is a good way to stay focused on work.
Work a full day
Make sure you arrive early and don’t leave until everyone else does. Avoid asking about breaks, lunch or what time you finish – they’ll tell you. You don’t want to appear eager to get away from the job before you’ve even started.
Like many of these tips, this one holds true for the first few weeks. You want to give the impression that you’re dedicated to the team. The more committed and flexible you are at first, the more flexible your manager will be later on.
Since you’re starting something brand new, it’s best to go in without any expectations and be ready to adapt to whatever gets thrown your way. If you’re open to learning new things, meeting new people and doing things in new ways, you’ll have a much more enjoyable experience.