Your first day of work can be a dream come true. Your first day at work can also be a waking nightmare. It all depends on how badly you wanted this job, how prepared you are for this job, and how much you’re willing to put into this job.
Even if this new job isn’t your ideal job, you still need to make a great first impression on your first day of work, as first impressions will always dictate the opinions that your new co-workers and superiors form about you. You will be able to cash-in on these positive impressions when applying for your next position and, if you want good references, you need to start strong and build on your debut at this company.
The first day at work usually involves meeting way too many people to keep track of, being oriented to the work being done and then, gently, being tossed into the deep end to see how well you can swim. Your first day at work probably has a tight schedule, but there are some things that you should always get done on your first day if you want to make a great first impression.
Here’s what you need to do in order to have a great first day at work and make great first impressions on your new colleagues:
Tips for Your First Day of Work
Do Your Homework
Just like before your job interview, you need to do your homework before your first day at work. It can be incredibly helpful to look up your future co-workers and add them on LinkedIn, as this makes your first in-person meeting with a colleague your second actual introduction to them. This will also help you to get a head start on remembering names and faces.
You should also brush up on some of the skills you will be using at your new job. You may be going directly from one job to another with the same job title, but it always helps to research how this new position could be different. By preparing for your first day in this way, you can hit the ground running and avoid any embarrassing “brain farts” while talking with your new boss.
Show up Early, Dressed the Part
Show up early, but not more than half an hour because they may not be ready for you and it can be a waste of time.
When deciding how formally to dress, think back to the people you saw during your job interviews. If you noticed a difference in formality between junior and senior employees, you should dress accordingly. As long as what you’re wearing is clean and in-line with what you observed during your previous interactions with this company’s employees, you are dressed perfectly for your job interview.
Make Sure the Right People Know You’re There
Depending on the size of the company you’re joining, there may be an entire army of people to meet. As a general rule, you should try to make your way to the people you will be working with directly as quickly as you can.
On your first day at work, you step behind the scenes for the first time, which can mean stepping into the middle of conversations and projects that have been taking place for multiple years. The people who you report to will have their hands full (there’s a reason you’re getting that salary!) and the sooner you can relieve part of their burden, the better their first impression will be of you.
Listen and Take Notes
There’s a reason your boss is moving their lips, and it has nothing to do with your daydream.
Always pay close attention to instructions, take notes and ask questions when something isn’t absolutely clear to you. That being said, if the questions you’re asking are forcing them to repeat what they’ve already explained, this can lead to a wary first impression of your first day at work.
Asking someone to re-explain something can be risky if they your new boss has a testy streak, but doing some explaining of your own will help them to give you the answers you need. It’s always better to ask questions than to not, and if you tell your new boss that this is your philosophy, you prepare them for .
You should always ask questions if you don’t fully understand something, but you should also try to answer questions for yourself. Always consult with any orientation, training, or new employee material for answers before interrupting people hard at work.
Know What’s Expected
You always want to complete the work that’s expected of you on your first day on the job. Training and orientation will typically take up a good portion of your day, but then comes the real work.
Your new employer probably isn’t expecting you to finish a complicated project on your first day, but you can’t be sure if you’ don’t ask.
If you’ve been told, specifically, what’s expected of you on your first day, don’t expect this to have changed by the end of the day. Even if you have to stay late, you should never walk away from a task that your new boss is expecting you to complete unless it’s:
Beyond your skillset to complete in a single day.
Beyond your skillset generally.
Objectively impossible to complete in a single day.
If you do have to walk away from work that your employer is expecting you to finish on your first day, always let them know the reason, even if this means telling them that their expectations are unrealistic or that you aren’t cut out for this job.
Most employers, however, will not have sky-high expectations for your first day, so, as long as you complete the work you’re expected to, you can expect to make a good first impression.
Ronny Cheng is one of the Co-Founder’s of Digital Astronauts and has helped drive lead generation in the software industry for organizations of all sizes — from start-ups to Fortune 500’s. He helped build one of the first online software review websites, specializing in CRM, ERP, and HR software. He’s a nationally published author with extensive experience working with the HR/Recruiting industries largest brands. In his spare time, you can catch him on Instagram doing his best food blogger impersonation.