Thankfully, my fears inevitably turn out to be unwarranted, everyone is nice and kind, and I survive to come back for day two. I’ve had a number of “first days,” so I like to think I’m something of an expert.
Nailing your first day is all about making a strong first impression, which can seem intimidating. However, there are some tricks that can make it easier for you.
1. Be prepared
Being prepared for the first day starts well before the day arrives. If possible, do a dry run of your commute so you know exactly where you’re going and how long it takes (especially with rush hour traffic).
The night before, plan out your outfit and make sure it’s washed and ironed — that will prevent you from having the horror-stricken moment when you realize the shirt you were planning on wearing is covered in tomato sauce (totally happened to me).
Try to get as much sleep as possible. But if you’re like me and have trouble sleeping before a big day, just plan on having an extra cup of coffee.
2. Do your research
The day before my start date at a new job within the pharmaceutical industry, the company got terrible news about a product recall. I read everything I could about it, so when I walked in the door on my first day, I knew what was going on. Because I was so well-informed, I was able to jump in and help my new boss, making a great first impression.
You probably had to do some research to get through the interview, but be sure to do a little more before your first day. If you’re knowledgeable about your workplace, it demonstrates that you’re invested in that company and want it to succeed as much as you want to succeed there.
3. Remember names
This one is so simple, yet many people get overwhelmed and completely overlook this way to stand out. Remembering names can be hard, but on the first day at a new job, make the extra effort to learn names quickly.
Learning names quickly can demonstrate that you’re a fast learner who is detail-oriented. When you call someone by their name it helps to make them feel noticed and appreciated, which are great feelings to be associated with you.
While this advice might sound great on paper, it’s hard when you’re nervous and overwhelmed. My trick for remembering names is to say the person’s name three times within a few minutes of meeting them. If that sounds awkward, here’s how it plays out in real life:
Boss: This is Tim, our IT professional.
Me: Tim, was it? (I extend my hand for a handshake)
Me: So nice to meet you Tim.
(A few minutes of small talk, then we get ready to move on.)
Me: Thanks so much, Tim. I look forward to working with you.
After an initial meeting, it can also be helpful to write down the name of the person you just met, along with notes like their position in the company, or where they sit in the office, to help you remember.
4. Be ready to learn
Beginning a new job inevitably means that you will be learning some new skill. Whether you’re learning a new computer system or the layout of the office, be ready to be a good student. Remember to leave defensiveness and pride at home and bring a curious and respectful mind.
Ask questions when you need clarification or if you need to see something again. Make sure you are paying close attention, even to small details. Take notes to help you remember important information. Remember that every organization does things differently, and even if you think you know everything relevant to your job, there’s always something new to learn!
5. Bring everything you need
Some jobs will require special training or licenses that you should be aware of, but most jobs will require basic forms of identification to fill out paperwork, such as a passport, Social Security card, driver’s license, or even your birth certificate.
If possible, find out what you will need ahead of time and be sure to bring it with you by emailing or calling the HR department or your company contact. Show you’re prepared and plan to succeed at your new job from the very first day by bringing any required documents/forms you might need.
Rocking your first day
First days are nerve-wracking, but with some preparation and planning, you can be ready to nail your new job. Remember to smile, breathe, and listen, and you’ll get through it with flying colors.