It can be daunting starting a new job. The fear of not knowing what you are doing and being worried about making a mistake can leave you feeling stressed and nervous. The first day on the job is always nerve-wracking, so here are eight tips to make a good impression on your first day and ease your stress.
1. Have a plan
On your first day, you don’t want to be worrying about turning up late or getting stuck in traffic. So it’s important to have a plan. You need to know where you are going, what time you need to be there, and who you are meeting on your first day. If you don’t know all these details, follow up before your first day so there are no surprises. Work out the following things before you start your new job:
- How you will get to work? Will you drive, take the bus, or walk? Do you know where the bus stop is or where to park your car? It’s worth having a backup plan in case something goes horribly wrong – eg. if your car doesn’t start you might need to get an Uber.
- Who will you meet when you first arrive? Get their phone number and contact details in case there are any issues.
- What time do you need to arrive? Know what time to arrive and make sure you arrive slightly earlier than the time you have been advised. If you arrive too early, your manager will think you can’t follow instructions. If you arrive late, you will be seen as unreliable.
- Where do you need to go on your first day? Sometimes you need to meet at a different place to where you will be working day-to-day. Maybe you need to fill in paperwork or get an ID card, so make sure you turn up at the right place.
Turning up on time on your first day is a must. You want your manager to know you are dependable and responsible. Most workplaces have a probation period, so even though you have the job, it’s important that you demonstrate that you are the right person to stay in the job.
2. Have breakfast
It might seem obvious, but having a nutritious breakfast will set you up for a successful first day. It will boost your energy and help you concentrate on all the new information you’ll be getting throughout the day. If your new job is a busy workplace, you might not get time for a snack before lunch, and you don’t want to be hangry around your new colleagues.
3. Wear your best
Treat your first day like your job interview and wear a suitable outfit for your role. You might need to get your photo taken for an ID card or for a corporate directory, so you want to look swish because that pic might be around awhile. You might also be introduced to senior people in the organisation, and you want to look your best when you’re meeting the big wigs.
If you’re going into a tradie role, don’t wear a suit. If you’re going into a formal advertising agency, don’t wear your jeans. If you’ve been given a uniform, make sure it is clean with no stains or wrinkles. For more outfit tips, read our blog on what to wear to a job interview.
Bonus tip: Wear comfortable shoes on your first day. You might have to cover some distance and you don’t want to be hobbling in pain because you’ve got blisters.
4. Take a notepad and pen
Most jobs will provide you with stationery, but it’s always a good idea to arrive on your first day prepared. It will show your new boss that you have initiative and also means you can jot down those all-important notes from the get go. Go the extra step and bring your lunch, water bottle and money for a coffee, so you don’t have to stress about figuring out the coffee machine or cup situation on your first day.
5. Work out important contacts
The first day can often be a whirlwind of meeting people, getting your computer set up and filling in paperwork. However, don’t forget to check your paperwork as you go and keep an eye on your first payslip to make sure all the details are correct. Once you’ve worked out all the admin stuff, take this opportunity to find out who to contact about IT and HR issues. These people can be a lifesaver when things go wrong.
6. Don’t complain about your previous job/boss/co-workers
One of the golden rules of starting a new job is ‘don’t bad mouth your previous job or boss’. While it can be tempting to complain about your previous workplace and gush about how much better your new job is, don’t. Not only is it unprofessional, but your new colleagues will wonder what you’re saying behind their backs. They will quickly form an opinion of you, and it won’t be a good one.
7. When you don’t know how to do something, ask questions
The first few days/weeks/months of your new job will be a learning curve. You won’t know how to do everything on your first day, so don’t beat yourself up. If you don’t understand something, take the initiative and do some research first – Google it or search the intranet to see if you can find an answer yourself. If you’re still unsure – ask! Your colleagues will understand that you’re new and would rather teach you how to do something the right way, rather than fix up your mistakes later down the track. Listen carefully and follow instructions, you will build better relationships and show others that you care about your work. If someone offers you feedback or an alternative way of doing something, don’t take it personally.
8. Keep a positive attitude
Your first few days or weeks can be unsettling. Keeping a positive attitude will help you feel more confident and make you feel more at ease at work. Remember to introduce yourself, smile, and be friendly to everyone. This will make you more approachable and help you build positive relationships in the workplace. Our video has even more tips to help you build your confidence.
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