The first day of a new job can be both exciting and terrifying. You probably won’t be expected to do anything specifically related to the position. Instead, most of your time will likely be spent getting oriented, filling out forms, and meeting your coworkers. But it’s important to be proactive, as the steps you take on Day One can set you up for success. Here are five things to make sure you do on your first day.
Learn the Rules, Both Spoken and Unspoken
You will likely receive a written job description, along with a bunch of verbal information such as how to operate various equipment and when to take breaks. But this is only the beginning. Keep your eyes and ears open to determine how things actually go and what else may be expected of you.
Also, pay close attention to the hierarchy, both official and unofficial. Learning your coworkers’ titles will give you an idea of rankings, but in most workplaces, there is also a complex social landscape in which specific people or groups have more influence than their titles would indicate. You won’t figure out all the office politics on your first day, but it’s never too early to start paying attention.
Be Interested and Interesting
As a new hire, part of your job is to learn as much as you can as quickly as you can. When you’re introduced to someone, make an effort to learn a bit about them. When talking to your boss or team leader, ask about big picture goals and current projects. Use active listening skills and take plenty of notes.
You’ll be asked about yourself innumerable times, so prepare a 30-second bio in advance. Briefly describe who you are, where you came from, and your new position in the company. Make it short and snappy, as well as honest.
Most of your coworkers will be busy and will only have time to briefly reach out. But there’s likely to be at least one person who extends a gesture of friendship, such as pulling up a chair for a longer discussion. Likewise, your boss and coworkers may invite you out to lunch or even for drinks after work. Say yes to these invitations, even if you’re not a naturally social person. It will help break the ice and make you feel more like part of the team.
The urge to impress your new teammates can be strong, but faking it is never the right move. Instead, use the time to present the best version of who you truly are. Dress appropriately, smile, and project a lot of energy, but don’t try to be someone you’re not. Have confidence in yourself, and you will naturally impress people over time.
Let It Go
The first day of work is not always a smashing success. If yours is difficult, don’t be too hard on yourself. You were hired for a reason, and tomorrow is another day.
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