20 Tips For A Successful First Day At A New Job

By Maddie Lloyd
Jan. 22, 2023
Articles In Life At Work Guide

Find a Job You Really Want In

Summary. To be successful on the first day of a new job, arrive early, dress appropriately, and be curious, positive, and yourself.

You did it! You made it through the extensive and exhausting interviewing process and stood out against everyone else — and you got the job! And now, after accepting your job offer, it’s time to start your first day.

Don’t panic — first days can be scary, but they don’t have to be a total nightmare.

Here are 20 things to do to help you have the best first day possible.

Key Takeaways:

  • Your first day is important because it sets the tone for your coworkers and boss and gives them a first impression of you.

  • The most important things you should do on your first day would be arrive early, be friendly, and ask questions.

  • The first day of a new job can be intimidating but with a positive attitude and eagerness to learn new things will make everything easier.

20 tips for a successful first day.

20 Tips for Your First Day

  1. Arrive Early (Or at Least On Time.) You should always try to get to work on time, especially on your first day. If you want to make an especially good impression, aim to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. On the other hand, you don’t want to show up on your first day two hours before everyone else and look like an overeager psycho.

    If you’ve never done the commute before, you might want to practice it a few times so you’re at least somewhat prepared for any surprise turns or monstrous daily traffic jams.

  2. Look and Play the Part. Make sure to figure out the dress code so that you don’t stick out from everyone else in a bad way. You’ll want to blend in with your coworkers, so you don’t want to show up on your first day wearing sweatpants when everyone else is in professional business attire.

    Failing to dress up to office standards could send the wrong message about your attitude towards working. You’ll want to show through your attire and your actions that you take yourself and your job seriously, so look and act as professional as you did during your job interview.

  3. Be Prepared to Ask Questions. Even though the first day is more about listening and getting your feet wet, it’s still a good idea to ask questions when you need some clarification. This will help show your employer that you’re excited about the job and you’re ready to learn.

    By the time a company offers you a job, you should have enough background information to ask more in-depth questions during your orientation. The night before your first day, write down some general questions about what you can do to be successful in your new position.

  4. Put Your Phone on Silent. This one’s a no-brainer. You should always try to be 100% present while you’re at work, especially if it’s your first day. If you can’t tear yourself away from your phone because you’re neck-deep in an Instagram contest, you might want to rethink your priorities.

    That being said, you may need your phone throughout the day for various onboarding and orientation events, so do keep it turned on and at hand.

  5. Have a Positive Attitude. During your first few days on the job, all eyes are going to be on you. Your supervisors and coworkers are going to be constantly judging your attitude and your work ethic, so you’ll want to make sure that they think of you as a hard worker with a positive outlook, not the grumpy jerk who hates Mondays.

    Make sure to be enthusiastic, positive, and upbeat so that everyone knows this is the kind of attitude they can expect from you on a daily basis. It’s always good to be approachable and easy to work with.

  6. Listen, Observe, and Show Interest. Your main duties during your first day are going to be listening and paying attention to everything going on around you. This is a great opportunity to learn about the company’s goals and priorities, and the general atmosphere of the office. Make sure to take lots of notes so you don’t forget anything and look like you weren’t paying attention.

    Don’t forget to show that you’re actually interested in everything you learn on your first day. Ask follow-up questions during your orientation, and try to learn more about your coworkers. This will do more than just help you flatter and win over your coworkers — it will also help you do your job better. That’s a win for everyone.

  7. Talk to Your Coworkers. You’re only going to be spending eight hours a day, five days a week with them — you might as well try to make friends with your coworkers, or least say something so you don’t spend the entire day in awkward silence.

    Make a point to reach out and introduce yourself to your peers. If you establish early on that you’re friendly and approachable, you’ll be on the right track to establishing trust, being given more assignments, and really becoming part of the corporate family.

  8. Don’t Turn Down a Lunch Invitation. Another way to get your relationships with your coworkers started on the right foot is to accept their lunch invitations. It’s important to show your peers that you’re ready and willing to work with them as a team, and company lunches are a great way to build camaraderie.

    Even if you’re completely awkward and have no sense of social skills whatsoever, you should still accept an invitation to lunch on your first day. If your boss or coworkers invite you to share a meal, they’re probably just trying to get to know you and help you feel less out of place. Hey, we all know how nerve-wracking it can be to start a new job.

  9. Learn How to Manage Your Time. This is essential for helping you meet all of your deadlines, especially if your boss assigns you a project on the first day.

    Reach out to your new coworkers and ask for any advice on their process for going about their assignments. This will help you learn more efficient methods of working, and it will help you continue to build your office relationships.

  10. Accept Your Coworkers’ Offers to Help. On that note, if one of your coworkers offers you their assistance, you should always accept their advice. Don’t worry about looking clueless or stupid — sometimes it makes others feel good about themselves to help, plus it’s another great way to build strong workplace relationships.

    Even if you already know what they’re going to tell you, it will make them feel good to think that they’re helping you, and it’s a lot better than saying “Um, I already know how to do that, thanks.” So just roll with it, okay?

  11. Don’t Pretend to Know Things You Don’t. It’s much easier to just ask questions than to try to explain that you didn’t know what you were doing when you make a mistake. Do your homework before the first day of your job and gather all the information you need, and make a list of questions for anything that you need clarified.

    If you can’t find the answer to something online, ask your coworkers questions or bring it up during your orientation. Again, don’t worry about looking stupid. It’s no secret that this is your first day, and it’s much better to ask questions than to delay or entirely screw up a project because you don’t know what you were doing.

  12. Be Open to Learning New Things. Even if your new job duties are basically the same as they were at your old job, you should be open to learning new methods for doing the same old tasks, or even similar ones. The techniques you learn might turn out to be more efficient, and learning new skills will help you get better at your job, while also keeping things from getting stale.

  13. Don’t Make Assumptions About Anything. If you don’t know what time you’re supposed to get to work or what time is appropriate to head home for the day, don’t just assume it’s a regular 9-5; you’re much better off just asking to avoid any embarrassing mishaps.

    It might also be a good idea to ask ahead of time where you’re supposed to come in and where you’re going to be stationed. You don’t want to waste any time wandering around trying to figure out which door to walk into or where you should sit down. Now that’s a good way to look clueless.

  14. Relax and Smile. Remember to relax and not be so tense on your first day, even though it can be incredibly nerve-wracking to start a new job. Make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before, have all of your materials ready to go, and get to the office a few minutes early.

    Don’t forget to smile. You made it through the grueling interviewing process and were the candidate who came out on top, so you have every reason to be happy. Make sure to let your employers know how happy and excited you are to be there.

  15. Prepare an Elevator Pitch. You might already have an elevator pitch that you used during your job interview. It’s time to brush that off and adapt it for your professional introduction. You may be asked to introduce yourself to a large group, your team, or just a few individuals throughout the day. Having a semi-prepared speech can make these interactions a lot less stressful and more natural.

    Describe who you are, what your background is, and what you’ll be doing in your new role. You can leave out the “sales pitch” part out since you already landed the job. It would be weird to brag about your greatest accomplishments to your new coworkers, so stick with more interesting personal tidbits to fill in your current elevator speech’s gaps.

  16. Review Onboarding and Orientation Materials. If you received a new employee message that contains important information regarding your employee handbook, orientation activities, or onboarding essentials, be sure to review it carefully. You may need to bring in documents, specific forms of identification, and other company-mandated paperwork regarding benefits or policies.

    Try to fill out all the paperwork you can ahead of time, so you can breeze through the more tedious parts of new-hire orientation. But if you have any questions that you want cleared up before filling something out, have those questions prepared as well, to show you’re proactively trying to get all the administrative stuff figured out.

  17. Observe the Company Culture. You’ve probably learned something about the company culture based on your research and the job interview itself. But now you can see how everyone behaves when the spotlight isn’t on and it’s just a normal day at the office.

    Pay close attention to how people talk to one another, acceptable forms of humor, and admired qualities and people around the office. For starters, you’ll find natural friends and mentors this way. Additionally, you’ll learn something about what behaviors and qualities are especially valued within your team.

  18. Watch Your Body Language. Even if you can fake sounding like you’re enthusiastic while you’re bored out of your mind at an orientation meeting, slouching body language will reveal that you’re bored and unengaged. Maintain good posture, make eye contact, and avoid fidgeting.

    When someone is talking to you, nod along and make comments to show that you’re following along. Also, make sure your tone is matching those of your conversational partner(s).

  19. Find Your Point Person. Your new employer might be so kind as to offer you a mentor or point person to turn to with questions during your first few days or weeks. Even if they don’t, you should make it a goal to identify and communicate with the person or people you’ll be working with the most often.

    If you can get off on the right foot with your supervisor and this person (or they’re one and the same), you’ll have a much less confusing transition. Take the time to learn their style, their preferred communication methods and frequency, and what expectations they have for your work.

    By learning your priorities from the get-go, you’ll start fitting into your position more quickly.

  20. Just Be Yourself. And finally — just be yourself. Trying to be some fluffed-up corporate version of yourself is stressful and will only make you feel and act more nervous. You’ll be seeing these people for 40 hours a week now, so you might as well just be yourself so you don’t have to put up a front for eight hours a day, five days a week. Everything will be much easier that way.

Why Is Your First Day of Work Important?

Your first day of work sets the tone for your professional relationship with a new employer, your supervisor, your coworkers, and any subordinates you have. You might not learn everything you need to succeed on your very first day, but if you want to present yourself as a fast learner, you better stay focused throughout the transition period.

You want to be familiar with the physical space as well as the mental work of the job. Knowing where to eat lunch, what files go where, and where to find the hardware you need are all essential for feeling comfortable in your workspace.

We all know how important first impressions are, and possibly the most important part of your first day is getting to know everyone and becoming known around the office. If you can start out on the right foot with the people you’ll be spending 40 hours a week with, you’re going to have a much better time at work.

First Day At Work FAQs

  1. What not to do on your first day of work?

    Do not dress unprofessionally, be late, or close-minded on your first day. Essentially you do not want to start of on the wrong foot and upset your coworkers or employer. When in doubt, it is better to observe others and try to imitate what how they act.

  2. How do I not be awkward on the first day of work?

    To not be awkward on the first day of work, accept that things won’t be perfect. It’s ok if you make mistakes or are unsure what to do. That is why asking questions can be very helpfu.

    It also is good to do your best to make yourself feel comfortable. Maybe wear your favorite professional outfit or treat yourself to a good dinner the night before.

  3. What helps anxiety at first day of work?

    If you have anxiety on the first day of work, practice mindfulness and breathing exercises. It is wasy to get overwhelemed by all the new information that is thrown your way. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings, recognize them, and allow them to exist. If you find yourself anxious, focus on your breathing for 30 seconds.

    You can also try to reduce anxiety by preparing as much as possible before your first day. For example, prepare your clothes, your schedule, and your food the night before. By elimating as many unknowns as possible, you can focuson other tasks.

  4. How long does it take to get comfortable at a new job?

    It can take anyware from a month to a year to get comfortable at a new job. It all depends on the nature of your profession and work environment. It also depends on who you are as a person. What’s important is that at each step along the way, you do your best to grow, contribute, and act with professional integrity.

Final Thoughts

Your first day at a new job is a big milestone, one that can lead to a lot of anxiety and stress — but it doesn’t have to be a big scary monster looming in the distance. With some preparation and a positive attitude, you can easily leave a good impression on your boss and coworkers and come out on top.

References

  1. University of Massachusetts – Professionalism in the workplace: A guide for effective workplace etiquette

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Author

Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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