5 Things to Do on Your First Day of a New Job

There are several things you should do on your first day at a new job.

They say the average adult sleeps between six and eight hours a night – unless he is facing his first day at a new job the next day. Then he might be lucky to sleep 42 minutes. Worrying about what to do, what to say, what not to do and what not to say can unnerve even the most confident professional. So sedate that "first day at work monster" who may try to bombard you with too many thoughts and worries. Cut your "to-do list" down to five things you should do on your first day on the job. But first, buoy your confidence by revisiting the five obvious things you should do to make a good first impression.

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Impressions On the First Day at New Job

The enormity of that first impression can be daunting. You've probably already met your direct supervisor, but a large group could be eagerly waiting to meet you: Other superiors, fellow coworkers and subordinates – all of whom (you may as well acknowledge it) will probably watch every move you make and hang on every word you say.

No one could blame you for trying to rationalize your first day at a new job: "It will be the first of only thousands of days I hope to spend with these people; who cares if I do or say something ridiculous?" In reality, the first day on a job is much like a first date; it could set the tone for the relationship, Indeed says. You might be able to reverse an unfortunate choice of words or actions, but it will take time. That's just the way human relationships are. Better to build upon a success than to double-back over an embarrassment.

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All things considered, advising someone to "relax" under these circumstances is a little disingenuous. So fortify your confidence with a reminder of five obvious things you already know you should do on your first day at work: Look and play the part (even if you overdress), arrive between 10 and 15 minutes early (to show your enthusiasm), put your phone on silent (for all the obvious reasons), project a positive attitude (concealing the fact that you may have slept only 42 minutes) and talk to your coworkers (to show that you're friendly and approachable).

Start With These Two Things Your First Day on the Job

No tips on this "short list" should surprise you. In fact, they've probably already crossed your mind. But now is the time to push them to the forefront, remembering that if too many thoughts are clouding your mind, these are five that truly matter:

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  • Be engaged. This is one step that includes several others: Active listening, observing, showing interest, asking questions, taking notes and, if the opportunity presents itself, offering to pitch in, Zippia says. It's no wonder many people leave their first day at work with a throbbing head; they're processing a good deal of new information. It all starts with being engaged and showing that you're happy to be in your new role.
  • Accept any lunch invitation that comes your way, but pack a lunch or snack anyway. Lunchtime is often workers' best chance to mingle and talk with their coworkers, though there are always people who prefer to eat at their desks or run out and grab a sandwich. Until you settle in and develop your own routine, show your flexibility (and your sense of economy) by showing up prepared for your first day on the job.

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Keep These Three Tips Top-of-Mind, Too

  • Acknowledge that you have a learning curve – a nicer way of saying "don't pretend to know things you don't." You never know if you're being "tested" or if people are just making conversation, curious to know about your experiences. So take the long view: Your first day at a new job won't be the only day you won't know what people are talking about or what they expect you to do. Here, too, you're making a first impression; showing your willingness to learn is the best impression to make.

  • Keep your eyes and ears open for a close ally or mentor – a capable and trustworthy person who can give you guidance, answer your questions and steer you right. Arguably, everybody should have such a touchstone in the workplace, though many people wait far too long to seek one out. Obviously, you won't find an ally/mentor on your first day at work, but you should remain alert for someone you connect with.

  • Be yourself. It's the first day of a new chapter and new adventure in your life, so try to enjoy it. When you think you should "act corporate," "act competitive" or "act intellectual," you place unnecessary pressure on yourself and unwittingly put up barriers between yourself and your new co-workers. Your boss hired you, not an actor, so he must have liked you and thought you would fit in just fine.

By the end of the day, you hopefully will agree.

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