Six Expert Tips For Your First Day at a New Job
The first day at a new job is a nerve-wracking experience. No one is entirely comfortable being the newbie. The start of a new job marks a major change in your life. You are anxious to make a good first impression. But at the same time, you don’t know anyone, you don’t know where to go or what to expect. You feel like you don’t know what you’re doing.
Walking into a new workplace is taking a step into the unknown. But even if you’ve taken up a position working remotely, there is a lot to learn, a lot of uncertainty. Sure, you have the comforts of your own home surrounding you. But as a remote worker, it’s easy to feel isolated, especially during those crucial first days when you are having to take so much in.
Most companies understand that the first day at a new job isn’t easy. They want to make new starters feel comfortable and get them up to speed as quickly as possible. After all, it’s in their interests to get you working at your best sooner rather than later.
Plus, after the time and money they’ve put into hiring you, they don’t want you to decide you’ve made a mistake. A third of new recruits quit their job in the first six months, which is a huge waste of business resources.
So the majority of businesses run formal onboarding programs which aim to help new starters settle in, learn what they need to learn quickly, and start being successful in their new role as soon as possible.
Yes, your new employer will help you get over that first day bump. But there are things you can do to help yourself, too. Here are six tips for your first day at a new job that will help you feel prepared, confident and focused.
1. Ask questions
There will inevitably be lots you are unsure about going into a new job. Uncertainty makes most of us nervous and will only add to your feelings of anxiety going into your first day. The best way to remedy that is to ask questions. A good, welcoming employer should be only too happy to provide answers to anything you ask, and should be impressed by your proactive approach.
2. Double check first day details
There’s nothing worse than starting off your career with a new employer by turning up late or in the wrong place. Talk about the wrong first impression! Don’t assume you know the start time, where you need to be, how to get there etc. Double check everything and don’t leave room for any errors.
3. Do a dry run of your commute
If you are having to travel to a new workplace, don’t take the risk of guessing how long it will take you to get there. Forget what Google says. Make the journey before your first day and find out for yourself. Then allow yourself plenty of time when it comes to the real thing. It’s far, far better to turn up early than late.
4. Read documentation carefully
Yes, starting a new job means being handed a load of paperwork you are supposed to read through and sign. This might be a boring task, but it’s important to read any documents you are given carefully. They will include your contract of employment, payment details, policies on things like health and safety, acceptable use of company resources, sick leave and holiday procedures and so on.
These are critical things you are signing up for. If there’s something you don’t agree with, you won’t have much room to argue further down the line if you have already signed up to a policy you didn’t read carefully.
5. Be as outgoing and friendly as possible
One of the things many people find hard about starting a new job is that they are naturally shy when meeting new people. There’s nothing to be ashamed of with that. But how well you settle into a new job does in large part depend on the relationships you build with your colleagues. You can do your part by making an extra effort to talk to people on that first day, or even before.
If you are working remotely, it’s a good idea to reach out to your co-workers as soon as you are up and running on company email or added to the team messaging board. Whether in person or remote, make a point of introducing yourself and asking people’s names. Take up the offer of going for lunch with colleagues or taking part in a team quiz. Make small talk.
In the long run, it will be worth the effort because people will be more willing to reach out to you and help you out if a) they know who you are and b) you come across as friendly.
6. Get your gear in order
This is more important if you are working from home rather than travelling to company premises. But even then, it’s a good idea to be prepared and not just assume things will be provided. Besides, taking your favourite mug, your preferred pens, or even just personal mementos will all help with making you feel comfortable.
If you are working remotely, it’s essential that you have your workspace ready for your first day. Run a performance scan on your computer to check everything is in good order (your new employer’s IT team will be able to help with this). Check your WiFi connection. If you haven’t worked from home before, get your seating and desk set up ergonomically - there are plenty of guides online about how to do it, like this one. But the basics are all about getting your posture right to avoid putting stress on your body.
Invest in equipment for your home office, or talk to your employer about what they can provide. Do you need a printer so you can work with paper copies of documents? Do you then also need a paper shredder for secure disposal of sensitive printed data? What about files and archive boxes for storage? The sooner you get all of this in order, the better position you are in to hit the ground running.
If you're an employer looking for ways to make your new hire feel welcome, read our New Employee Starter Guide to get our top tips.