How to Succeed on the First Day of Your New Job

No matter how many jobs you’ve had in the past, the first day in a new role can be intimidating, especially if this is your first position in a professional setting. There are always unknowns, and the pressure to impress your new colleagues and supervisor can be stressful. But instead of worrying, review these tips for starting your job right!

Refresh your research.

If there’s a time gap between when you were hired and your first official day on the job, the memory of your research for those initial interviews may be a bit fuzzy. To refresh, review your company’s website, including their values and mission statement. You can even reach out in the weeks before you begin to ask if there’s any reading materials the company would recommend as preparation for joining the team. You won’t just walk into your first day with a stronger understanding of your employer—you’ll show initiative by taking the lead.

Dress to impress.

There’s a chance Human Resources will reach out before your first day to brief you on the office dress code, but if not, don’t be afraid to call and ask. Regardless, lean toward dressing conservatively. This is not the day to try out that edgy statement jacket. Plan and iron your outfit the day before to avoid the stress of any last-minute wardrobe needs. Professional attire will demonstrate you’re taking your new role seriously, but once you’ve gained a sense of how your colleagues dress, feel free to adjust accordingly.

Show up early.

Treat your first day as if it were an extended interview. Like with any interview, plan to show up 10 to 15 minutes early. This extra time buffer will help you avoid arriving late due to busy traffic or limited parking. Test drive the route during rush hour in the days before your start date, and give yourself ample time to find your way to the office once you arrive.

Ask questions, take notes.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. They show you’re engaged and eager to learn. If it’s helpful, prepare a list of questions related to expectations for your position. However, don’t immediately bombard your supervisor or tour guide with the entire list. General questions may already be answered in a first-day orientation or onboarding session, where we suggest you take notes. The first day can be a bit of a whirlwind, and those notes will be a helpful reference tool when everything settles down.

Connect with your coworkers.

More often than not, it is the people you work with that determine the type of experience you have at your job. You’ll be spending the majority of each weekday with your coworkers, so get to know them! Introduce yourself to everyone you meet that first day. As the weeks pass, find more ways to connect with your fellow employees, whether that means chatting at lunch, joining an office committee, or organizing birthday celebrations.

Attitude is everything.

Approach your first day with an upbeat attitude. Employers like to know you’re enthusiastic about your work and that you’ll contribute positively to the office environment. Smile. Be attentive and personable. Don’t rush out the door the moment the clock hits five, but instead linger for a few minutes to show your new office-mates you’re not only there to punch a clock.

Be yourself.

Above all, be yourself. First impressions are definitely important, but people will notice if your first-day persona doesn’t line up with who you are a few weeks later. You were hired for a reason, so trust yourself and the experiences that have brought you to this point. You’ve got this!

Starting your job remotely? Many of these tips still apply! Even when working from home, make sure to dress professionally for any Zoom meetings. Connecting with your coworkers may take a little extra effort, but try getting a time on their calendar to meet during your first weeks. Also, be sure you have some sort of work space set up that’s comfortable and free of distractions. For more work from home tips, see our recent blog post 5 Tips to Make Working from Home Work for You created in partnership with Bethel University’s Office of Career Development and Calling.