For those of you who are about to start your new job in a few days, you might be feeling the jitters. Partly because having a new job is exciting, but mostly because having a new job is kinda scary. Just thinking about it might keep you up the night before.
What’s so scary about the first day at work?
- Plunged into a completely new and strange situation
- You don’t know anybody there — you’ll be the only stranger
- You have no idea what to do or where to go
- There will be a lot of expectations set for you
It’s alright, we understand how you feel. We’ve all been there. You can’t see the future and know what will happen, but you can anticipate and prepare yourself on what to do. Here are some tips on how to succeed on your first day, making it less scary and more encouraging.
1. Say yes to pick-up lines
It’s not what you think. What we mean is when your manager invites you to have lunch on your first day or your teammates invite you to dinner after work, the correct answer is ‘Yes’. It’s the perfect opportunity to talk out of work and get to know your new co-workers.
Since not knowing anybody is one of the scariest things of being a new hire, an opportunity to socialize should always be taken, especially when people ask you to.
2. Bring stationery
This may sound trivial and you may look back thinking it’s silly, but you should come prepared with at least a notebook and two pens. You’ll get a lot of information and instructions on your first day and you want to write them down. You don’t wanna be that guy who keeps asking for the same things because he forgot.
Why two pens?
Why not? It’s a backup pen and gives you some rapport when someone asks ‘Can I borrow a pen?’
3. Listen and observe
Your first day is more about listening to others. It’s the time to learn about this new place where you’ll spend a part of your life and how things work around here.
Mostly you'll be looking for signs of company culture, things like how decision-making works. Do people have autonomy to make their own decisions, or do you have to go through a certain number of people before deciding on something? This way you can gauge when to take initiative and when to just go with the flow.
Look for any unwritten rules, any habits or rituals in your new team. It’s the time to be observant and generally getting to know what you’re getting into, which would really help in adapting.
4. Don’t be late
Seriously, don’t be late. Arriving too early may be awkward and silly, but understandable being it your first day. First impressions are strong, and being late is already a hit on your image that you haven’t had the chance to even develop yet.
So go over the bus routes again. Set six alarms. Heck, don’t sleep (just kidding — get enough rest, okay). Just don’t be late on your first day.
5. Be ready to work
In fact, be ready for anything that might get thrown your way. This depends on what kind of company you’re getting into. If you’re starting your first day with a startup, chances are you’ll be knee-deep in tasks and assignments from day one.
In that case, go over your job descriptions again or recall your tasks in your previous job if they’re similar. Still, there’s no sure way of knowing what you’ll get, so get ready for anything.
Otherwise, bigger companies who hire in batches may dedicate the first day for briefing or induction. This is where you get briefed on the company’s history and mission and vision, and maybe get to know your new team or fellow new hires. In this case, get ready to socialize.
But that’s not all. Your first day may fall on a huge company event, or your team might have a meeting on that day that you have to join. In order to help yourself adapt and adjust to whatever situation that may happen, you should…
6. Ask questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know what you’re doing. Ask for help or for someone to explain how this works, if there’s any formal guide that you can refer to. Experimentation and initiative is sometimes good, but not when you mess up your first day because you didn’t simply ask.
If you’re not doing anything, ask for work. Ask your manager if there’s anything to be assigned to you. Ask your teammates if you can help with their tasks. Don’t waste your first day by doing nothing — it doesn’t look good and certainly doesn’t feel good.
As mentioned before, sometimes there’s genuinely no work to be done on the first day. If that’s the case, then you should…
7. Introduce yourself
Don’t be shy! Walk around and get to know people in your team and on the floor. It’s a small gesture but can easily make you more memorable (first impressions are strong, after all). Even if you don’t introduce yourself (which you should) people might come to you anyway and ask who you are and what you do.
This is where your elevator pitch would come in handy. Yes, even after you’re through career fairs and interviews, networking happens all the time. Craft a short introduction about yourself around 1 minute in length, and make sure to include what you’ll do in your new position.
8. Be helpful
Offer to help out. Other than assisting your teammates when you have nothing to do, look for opportunities where you can offer your help. Even small things like moving tables or volunteering for some event committee, being helpful is a great way to get involved, get to know people, and get yourself known with a positive image on your first day.
A matter of culture fit
In the end, how smoothly your first day will run (and the rest of your days) depends on your culture fit with the company. When you find yourself in a culture that’s aligned with your own personal values, you’ll be happier and more productive in your career. Check your culture fit and personality with Dreamtalent and find out which companies you’ll have a better first day with.