Tips for Success on Your First Day at a New Job

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By: Tyler Omoth


Play your cards right on your first day and you’ll be sure to make a great impression.

You got the call, negotiated a salary, and finally landed the job you’ve been trying to nail down. Congratulations! This is the time for optimism and excitement. Could this be the job that truly launches your career?

Now it’s time to get focused. If this truly is your big break, you want to make the most of it right out of the gate. That means that your very first day is crucial — it can set the tone for how your boss and your co-workers see you. Making a good first impression matters most right now, so there are a few things to do before starting a new job to make it a success. That’s no reason to stress out and put extra pressure on yourself. Just get yourself ready to rock your first day on the job with these simple tips.

Dress the part

Even if you take great pride in your eclectic style, you may want to wait awhile to ease into that. Chances are there will be some guidelines in the company handbook that can help in choosing your first-day-of-work outfit. If you don’t have that yet, you can still head to their website and look at what employees are wearing in pictures.

Are they business casual or straight up business? Maybe this company is more laid back and jeans are the norm. Whatever you see, you want to dress accordingly to be certain that your outfit is appropriate for your job. If you have any doubts, always err on the side of formal when choosing your ensemble for your first day. You’d rather be a little too dressy than too casual.

Plan your commute

This one simple step can save you a lot of embarrassment and help you make a good first impression. One of the smartest things to do before starting a new job is mapping out your best route to your new workplace in advance. Pay attention to how much traffic is on your route during the morning commute. If you really want to be safe, get up one morning and give it a test run. Also, pay attention to any special events that could throw a wrench in that day’s traffic. However long you decide your commute will take you, leave at least 10 minutes early on your first real day of work. Showing up a little early is okay, but being late on day one starts things off on the wrong foot in a big way.

If you need a little help, there are lots of great phone apps to make your commute a little easier.

Be ready to work … or not

Our best new job advice: be ready for anything! Some supervisors like to start out new hires by throwing them into the fire. If that ends up being the case, be ready to jump in and show your stuff. Ask questions, but don’t be afraid to do some problem solving on your own. The type of boss that likes to start things off that quickly usually wants to see how well you can handle yourself on the fly.

On the flip side, it could also happen that your new company hands you a bunch of orientation material and then leaves you alone. What will you do? Before you get there, think about what kinds of things you want to know about your new company. Chances are the answers are in those orientation materials. Know ahead of time what kind of information you want to find.

Be friendly

Being friendly is one of the best ways to make a good impression. As opportunities arise throughout the day to talk to people, do so. They’ll likely ask you about yourself, but be sure to also ask about them as well. Have your 30-second elevator pitch ready, but after that, shift the focus off of you. Get to know what they do and what they like. Asking questions about the person you’re talking to makes you instantly more likable than the person who just wants to talk about him or herself. Smile as much as you can while still feeling like you’re not faking it. Everyone likes a smile.

Related: 5 Tips for Making Friends at Work

Remember names

This piece of new-job advice can be tricky. You’ll likely be meeting a lot of people throughout your first day. Remembering names is easy for some, but for others, it’s a real struggle. When you are introduced to someone new, try not to focus on their clothes or hairstyle but instead focus on their words. When they say their name, repeat it to yourself several times in your head. If you are one of those people who struggle with names, there are lots of little tricks out there to help you get better at it. See if you can find one that works for you.

Accept that lunch invitation

If you’re lucky, your boss or some co-workers will invite you to go to lunch. This tip for starting a new job is a no-brainer — go! Lunch is a great opportunity to converse in a more casual setting. You’ll learn more about the people you are eating with and possibly get an inside look at how the office works. If the conversation turns towards office gossip, do not engage. Pay attention to who does the most talking and make note of it. Ask plenty of questions. This is a great time to get to know your new co-workers beyond their job descriptions.

That said, you may want to bring a lunch just in case it’s expected that you don’t leave for your afternoon meal. Just be willing to let it go if you do get that invite.

Know the company’s recent successes

Educate yourself ahead of time by conducting some research — familiarize yourself with what this company does well and what projects have been recent successes. You may have done this to wow them during your interview, but it’s still good information for when you are introduced to people and worth refreshing. Perhaps you’ll meet one of the individuals who was named as a key player. Giving quick kudos and asking a smart question about their project will impress them quickly. Who doesn’t like to talk about their home runs?

Find out who you’ll be working with the most

As you meet people throughout your first day, try to discern who is going to become a part of your daily life at the company and who may be less involved in your work. Then, make an extra effort to get to know those who you’ll be working with closely. Ask questions so you’re sure that you understand exactly what they do and how their role connects with yours. By doing this you can eliminate embarrassing job-role mistakes right away. Getting off on the right foot with team members can help set the right tone for your new job moving forward.

Your first day at your new job should be exciting, not frightening. As long as you’re prepared with a plan going in, you’ll do great. Keep the focus on learning and making a good first impression. If all goes well, the people you meet on your first day could be the people you’ll work with for years to come. Start things off on the right foot by having a plan and expecting the best.