Thrive from the start: your first day in a new job

How to combat first-day nerves and make a great impression

Your first day in a new job is always a nervy affair. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you’ve got. By 5.30pm you’ll have learned (and promptly forgotten) a whole bunch of names, been bombarded with a ton of confusing information, and you’ll probably have a sore hand from all that ‘meeting and greeting’. Exhausting! 

Trouble is, first impressions count a great deal, so the pressure’s on from the first minute. And while a bad first impression isn’t the end of the world, making a good one can do you some serious favours in the world of work. Here are some simple ways to make the right impression on day one…

Early bird

Try to arrive around half an hour early. This gives you time to freshen up, settle in and have a chat with your boss and colleagues before the day begins. It’s important to arrive wide awake and ready to go, so charge up the coffee pot, wipe the sleep from eyes and get ready to shine.

The secret here is forward planning. Get plenty of sleep the night before, and give some thought to your clothes. Dress to impress but don’t go overboard. Just as turning up in a scruffy pair of old jeans isn’t going to do you many favours, neither is turning up in your wedding suit complete with pocket handkerchief and waistcoat.

First impressions

It’s a cliché to talk about handshakes, but it’s also very important. A firm handshake gives the impression of confidence, sincerity and warmth – as long as you don’t rip someone’s arm off in the process. Enthusiasm begins with a smile, too. You don’t need to wait for people to introduce themselves. Take the initiative and say hello, or catch people’s eyes and give them a grin. It also pays to show an interest in other people, and by asking a bit about their jobs you can discover some useful information about your new company.

Building bridges

Naturally you’ll want to get on with everyone in the building on your first day, however unlikely that is in reality. However, you will probably be working in a smaller team or division, and it’s these people you need to focus your energy on. Your relationships with them are going to determine your early career prospects, and it’s odds-on that your manager will be asking these people what they think of you. As you don’t yet know anything about the company, chances are you’ll be listening more than talking on your first day. Don’t be afraid to ask a few questions, though – you don’t know anything yet, so your colleagues won’t hold it against you. And if conversation becomes a bit more informal, be careful to keep it light. Now is not the time to declare any extreme views on, say, politics, and perhaps think twice before cracking any rude jokes.

Enthusiasm can also be shown by asking if you can help, and if someone takes you up on the offer, make sure you take notes while they explain the task. Failure to do this could make that person think you’re not interested in the job or, worse still, that you’re not up to it.

Get stuck in                               

This is more difficult than it sounds because you’re unlikely to have much work to do on the first day. If you show a bit  of initiative, however, you’ll soon generate some tasks, even if it’s low-level stuff like getting to know the IT system or setting up your email. Answering a few phone calls is also a good way to familiarise yourself with the company’s day-to-day business.

Do your homework

No-one will expect you to know everything about your new company, but a bit of background reading goes a long way. And with things like Wikipedia and Google at your disposal, it’s never been easier to swot up. It’s amazing what dropping in the occasional phrase or buzzword can do for your image, and it might make conversations with your new colleagues a bit easier.

Be confident, not cocky

You’ve already passed the biggest test – the interview – so you have every reason to go in there with a bit of swagger. Make sure your confidence doesn’t come across as arrogance, though. It’s important to show a bit of humility because at this point you really don’t know better than anyone else. Try to rein yourself in a bit – at least for now.

Stay free and easy

As the day comes to an end you’ll be desperate to unwind and perhaps to see a few familiar faces. However, avoid the temptation to arrange any social engagements with friends after work. This will allow you to accept any invitations from your new colleagues, who might view a drink after work as part of your settling in process. After-work drinks are also a great way get to know your colleagues in a less formal setting. But stay frosty – it might feel like a relaxed setting but you still need to give a good account of yourself.

Be careful what you promise

While it can be tempting to up-sell your talents on the first day, don’t promise more than you can deliver. You may not, for example, be all that comfortable with public speaking, or maybe you don’t have much experience in management. While it’s not necessary to admit these short-comings up front, it’s definitely not wise to cover them up and be someone you’re not. After day one comes many other days in what you hope will be a long and enjoyable career, so you’ll get found out in the end.

Don’t be a hero

Maybe you’ve been employed to manage a team, or to initiate some changes to the way your company does business. Maybe your predecessor wasn’t all that good, and the company is looking to you to be a star performer. If so, day one is definitely not the best time to start throwing your weight around. Adopt a steady-as-she-goes approach, and take your time to learn and understand before you dive in.

And if all else fails…

…don’t panic! It IS possible, in fact, to make a first impression twice, and it’s not the end of the world if your day doesn’t go to plan. Relax, try to have fun and be yourself. After all, that’s how you got the job in the first place, right? Remember also that your new colleagues are likely to be as nervous as you are, so the first-day challenge cuts both ways. And at the end of the day… well… you go home!

  • Achuthan

    thank you for useful informations

  • Recruitment Solutions

    This is very useful, you can never have too much preparation for that first day!