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Do These Things on Your First Day of Work

By Nicole Cavazos
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Starting a new job can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. You’re eager to begin a new chapter in your career, but the stress of having to impress your boss and new colleagues is often daunting.

Although it might be tempting to play it cool and say very little on the first day, it’s important to remember that your first impression sets the tone for the future. On the other hand, trying too hard will only backfire.

Your best bet is to start your new job with a plan. A little forethought and some preparation can help to significantly reduce your anxiety and start you off on the proper footing. Here are some things that can help.

Take Care of Yourself

First and foremost, make sure you’re at your best by getting a good night’s sleep and eating a proper breakfast. It’s much easier to pay attention and learn new skills when you’re well rested and well nourished. Try to relax and think about soothing things before bed. And set the alarm early enough so that you’re not rushing in the morning.

Dress Intentionally

Dressing for your first day of work is very similar to dressing for your job interview. Regardless of how casual the dress code is, you want to dress professionally and somewhat conservatively. This doesn’t mean that you should always wear a suit and tie despite what everyone else is wearing. It just means that if people are dressed in shorts and t-shirts, perhaps opt for a dress shirt and a nice pair of slacks or skirt instead. Once you’ve settled in, you can start to wear more casual clothing based on the company culture.

Get to Work on Time

Hopefully, you’ve tested the route during your commute time to get a sense of how long it will take you. Leave a little early, particularly on your first day. If you have extra time to spare, you can always go to a nearby coffee shop or a park to pull your thoughts together before entering the office.

Prepare to Ask Questions (But Know When to Listen)

If you’re hoping to coast through your first day like a passive sponge, you’re certainly not going to win many points. Just like you did (hopefully) before your job interview, arrive with questions that can help make your transition easier and clarify your role faster. This isn’t to say that you should be doing most of the talking. It just means that if you’ve been truly listening, questions will arise. And asking them confirms to others that you’re paying attention.

Prepare an Elevator Pitch

No, you don’t want to give a condensed bio of your accomplishments and work history. You already have the job. But people in the office will be curious about your background, so be prepared to answer in a way that’s natural and doesn’t make their eyes glaze over. You could also explain your new role in the company. Gauge how much they really want to know. Often, people are just trying to be welcoming or strike up a conversation.

Be Friendly

It’s hard to smile and relax when you’re feeling uneasy. But if you focus on others and your new position, you might find it a little easier. Remember that almost everybody in the office was once in your shoes. It’s likely that they’re feeling sympathetic and eager to help with your adjustment.

Show an interest in everyone in the company, not just in those whom you need to impress. Asking colleagues about their backgrounds can help take the spotlight off of you and endear you to others.

Assess the Social Landscape

Politics play a part in every job. The sooner you understand the unique social dynamics and hierarchy of your new job, the better. There are people whom you want on your side and others you’d do well to steer clear of. Try to avoid gossip when possible.

Be Humble

Nobody likes a know-it-all. Listen to what everybody has to say and don’t discount or belittle their ideas or comments. After all, you wouldn’t want anyone discounting yours. Some of the very best ideas often come from the most unlikely places.

Be Positive

Sometimes the smallest things can seem like a big deal until you’ve gotten used to them. Any transition, whether it’s to a new town, a new school or a new job can be hard to adjust to at first. It might take awhile before you feel completely comfortable and even happy. In the meantime, stay focused on the positive aspects of the job and give yourself a break when you do stumble. After all, you won’t be a newbie forever.

Nicole Cavazos

Nicole Cavazos is a Los Angeles-based copywriter and blogger. As a former contributor to the ZipRecruiter blog, she covered the job market and wrote advice for job seekers.

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