Your First Day on the Job – How to Prepare, What to Expect

December 23rd, 2011

Congratulations! You’ve landed the job you’ve been looking for. Your next step? Make a great impression.

Nowhere is the first impression more important than on your first day at a new job. What you do, what you say, and the way you do these things will tell your new boss and co-workers a lot about you, so clearly you want to do things right. Here’s a checklist of how to prepare before stepping into the office and what to do once you get there.

Get rest, look good. The night before starting a new job is probably not the best time to go out on the town to celebrate. Instead, eat wisely and don’t drink caffeine late in the day. Get a good night’s sleep so you’re well-rested and alert in the morning.

What you choose to wear is important, but even more so is that you look neat and orderly – no chipped nails, unwashed hair, etc. If the company you’re about to work for has a dress code, be sure to find out what it is and follow it without question. In any case, always dress professionally. For women, this means no mini-skirts or dangling earrings. For men, a long-sleeved shirt and dress pants is the way to go.

Many employees get their photo IDs taken on the first day, so avoid wearing white or light-blue tops, loud prints and thick horizontal stripes.

Time and tools. Whatever happens, don’t be late on your first day! You can avoid this nightmare scenario by test-driving the route to work beforehand so you have a sense of how long the commute will take. (Even so, on the morning of the big day, leave some extra time in case you get stuck in traffic.) The same goes for your morning routines. Budget the time you need for getting ready so you don’t end up rushing into the office, which will impress no one.

If you’re bringing work-related items with you (laptop, supplies, tools), be sure they’re selected and ready to go the night before. The goal is to being able to walk out the door feeling relaxed, confident and ready for anything.

You’ve arrived on time, looking nice and feeling good about yourself. That’s smart, because there’s still a lot ahead of you.

Attitude is everything. Remember how you focused on being friendly and outgoing during your job interview? The same applies here, but even more so. Many of the people you meet today will be your co-workers (and possibly friends) for some time to come. If you’re an extrovert by nature, give it your all! If you’re shy, push yourself out of your comfort zone and make small talk. Ask questions about the workplace, about what others do on the job and–if they’re willing–a little about themselves.

What not to talk about? Stay away from office rumors and gossip. If not, you’ll quickly get a reputation you don’t want.

Become an expert. As part of your preparation, you should have researched your new employer online and found out all you can about the company. There may be time on the first day to learn more as well. Read the employee handbook. Look through old files on the computer system. Ask for samples of successful projects undertaken before you came. The more you know, the more questions you may have–which is a good way to get to know your boss.

This applies to your listening skills, too. The first day on the job is not the time to control conversations, interrupt others or point out that “this isn’t the way we did things where I used to work.” Today, you can ask questions and take notes, including the names of people you meet. Learn about company policies. Show your enthusiasm for your new job. And smile a lot!

Each new job is different, but certain rules stay the same. Arrive early and don’t run out the door at 5 o’clock. Your new employer has taken a chance by hiring you. Show them you’re worth it.

Learn more about how Meador Staffing’s career advisors can help assess your skills, craft your resume and determine which opportunities are best matched to your skills and goals.

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