The First Day of Work
You’ve got the job! For about twenty minutes, you are nothing but excited and confident. Then, thoughts of the first day start to bring you back to reality. Getting ready for day one starts that very minute.
The first way to prepare for your big day is to learn as much as you can about the company before you walk into your new office. You’ve most likely done that for the interview, but you should refresh yourself with your company’s mission, goals and core values. Read the website, the Facebook page, the LinkedIn page. Do they have Google+? Twitter? Instagram? Research any resources related to your new employer and be sure to follow the company on all the social media platforms.
Next, you want to plan accordingly the night before. Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman writes for The Muse that you should resist the urge to celebrate your new job the night before. That night is for prep. “Lay out your clothes, pack your bag or new purse and get a good night’s rest,” Gottsman writes. She goes on to explain that day one is not the time to ask about the company’s dress policy. Gottsman recommends keeping it conservative until you’ve had a chance to get familiar with the culture.
You’ll also want to plan what you’ll eat for breakfast and lunch the night before and don’t forget to set that alarm and get to bed at a decent hour! As Gottsman mentioned, a good night’s sleep is critical. Considering you’ll be excited and nervous, that might be harder than it sounds. Try a few tricks: No caffeine after noon, no naps during the day, read a book before you turn out the lights. No cell phones, no iPad, no computers, no TV.
When the big day arrives, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to shower, dress and eat a healthy breakfast. Many of us end up in a habit of eating breakfast at work, but day one is not the time for that. Make sure you get out the door in enough time that you can arrive to work ten minutes early. Being late on your first day is not the way to make a good first impression.
The two most important things to focus on as you walk in the door are to keep a positive attitude and to be yourself! National workplace expert and author Lynn Taylor says, “It’s stressful to try to be someone else, so why bother?”
Greet everyone with an enthusiastic smile and introduce yourself. There will probably be a lot of people to meet, so learn names quickly. As you see your new coworkers throughout the day, be sure to say ‘hi’ and use their name. Sales training specialist James Lee writes on LinkedIn, “If you don’t remember their name, own up to it and ask politely to be reminded. This is a show of respect and it is also a way to boost their first impression of you.”
Another key ingredient for day one: Patience. Patience is the trickiest part. Most of us will just want to dive in, but we have to remember, the rest of the staff is likely busy with projects and deadlines and they might not have as much time for you on day one as you’d like. Some places will have a workload for you when you walk in the door, but most will sit you in your office with a list of some passwords and just tell you to get situated.
That’s a great opportunity to log into your computer and check emails. Most likely you’d been added to the employee list and you’ll see several emails that you can review to learn a bit about what’s going on in the company. If you were given a company handbook, you could use some of that time to read through it. This is also a good time to figure out your phone and record your voicemail greeting; figure out what printer you are hooked up to; and get familiar with where the bathrooms and kitchen areas are located.
As the day goes on, you’ll be absorbing a lot of information. Be sure to listen more than talk; it’s the best thing you can do in your first few days. “Listen, listen, and listen,” Mark Strong, a life, career, and executive coach explains. “Generally, you’re trying to demonstrate your curiosity and desire to learn. Beware of asking too many questions on the first day, though. You have plenty of time to master the job.”
As you are listening and absorbing, take notes! “Write down as much as you can during meetings and hallway conversations,” Jarie Bolander of The Daily MBA says. You’ll be glad you did when it’s time to sit down and actually get to work. Bolander goes on to say, “getting up to speed is probably the single biggest frustration you will face since in order to get stuff done, you have to understand how your new company works.”
Throughout the course of your day, be appreciative of everyone that helps you – from the receptionist who tells you where the bathroom is to the CEO who pops in to welcome you aboard. Treat everyone with respect. This shouldn’t just be reserved for the first day. Respect and appreciation should be an everyday thing.
If there’s one key point you take away from this article, it’s attitude. Keep it positive and enthusiastic no matter how your day turns out. Enthusiasm is contagious and if you have it, everyone else will be equally as enthusiastic to have you on board.