Congratulations! You just landed a new job, and now it is time to report to work. Yikes! No matter the situation, first days are exciting AND scary. They are great opportunities for fresh starts, new beginnings and things to go wrong. Despite the “worst first day on the job” story that someone may feel obligated to share, there are some things for which you can plan and prepare.
You Won’t Have a Second Chance to Make a First Impression
Like it or not, people often make long-term judgments based on the initial seven seconds of an encounter (Forbes, 2011). Although this may add to your stress level, stay calm. It really comes down to common sense. Plan out your commute ahead of time, arrive early, follow dress code, be polite and courteous, and display a positive attitude. What if an unforeseen event, such as an unexpected traffic jam, completely derails your best laid plans? Respond responsibly, and do not underestimate the power of flexibility and a sense of humor. Those traits make great impressions too.
Your Co-Workers Will Want to Get to Know You
You will meet new people on the first day and they will be eager to find out about you. Rehearse a short 30 to 60-second elevator speech. Cover your previous employment, qualifications, connections and interests. Catch up on the latest news and sports stories so you are ready for small talk as well.
You May Not Have Enough to Do
No one will expect you to be 100 percent up-to-speed and fly out of the starting gate. You may find that, between orientation and paperwork, you have some downtime. Use this as an opportunity to show that you can take initiative. Review upcoming projects, offer to assist with a task or ask for a crash-course in a procedure. Do, however, keep over-exuberance in check. Your co-workers have regular work to complete, and they may not be able to devote a significant amount of their time to training you on day one.
You Might Wonder If You Made a Good Choice
Your opening day on the job might be amazing; you leave confident you made the right decision. Or your first eight hours might be mediocre, or even not that great. You may feel overwhelmed by the workload or discouraged after an encounter with a less-than-friendly co-worker. Regardless of the situation, remind yourself of the reasons that you accepted the position. Write them down, review them now and again, and give yourself time to settle into your new environment.
Finally, keep in mind that a five-day week allows for 260 work days each year. Your first day is one of those. Your success and your job satisfaction will be measured over months and years, so enjoy (or endure) day one. Then, shift your focus to the long term.