Things to Expect on Your First Day at a New Job

Congrats! You got a new job and you start soon. You’re probably a little nervous and excited, and you don’t know what to expect on your first day.

Every company has some form of onboarding or orientation process for new employees. The process varies among employers, and some companies and managers are better at it than others.

What happens on your first day of a new job will be different everywhere, but it’s safe to say you’ll meet a lot of new people, shake a few hands, and probably fill out some paperwork.

Here’s what you can generally expect on your first day of a new job, as well as tips for starting off on the right foot:

Meeting the New Team

At many companies, you’ll spend part of your first day meeting and introducing yourself to new co-workers, especially the ones in your department and the ones you’ll be working closely with.

Each company will do the introduction process differently. Some companies will take you on a tour of the office, and other companies are known to take new employees out to lunch on their first day.

Take things slow on the first day and focus on making a good first impression with your new co-workers. You’re better off trying to make personal connections with new team members right off the bat, instead of jumping right into the specifics of what you’ll be working on (unless the conversation demands it).

Don’t be hesitant to connect with other new people you haven’t been introduced to throughout your first day, either. This may feel uncomfortable, but it’s good to establish you’re the new kid on the block and create some relationships with people early on.

Prepare for Possible Downtime

Your new company may set up a structured schedule of things for you to do on your first day, including filling out relevant paperwork or even giving you your first assignment. However, you may still have some downtime.

If you do have downtime, spend it wisely. Read all the information you can about your new company, including old newsletters, articles on its website, and even organizational charts (something you should also do before an interview with the company). The more you immerse yourself in this type of reading, the better you’ll understand your new company and role.

It’s also smart to volunteer to help with new projects if you find yourself with nothing to do. It’ll show initiative on your part and help you understand expectations, norms, and how things get done.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Chances are, there will be quite a few moments during your first day when you’ll feel a little bewildered. Some companies assign a mentor to new employees who can guide them through the first few weeks and answer questions.

Whether you have a mentor or not, don’t be afraid to ask questions on your first day, from the simple stuff like how to use the copy machine to more complex questions.

Asking questions shows you’re serious about the new gig. It’s also better to come off as clueless early on, rather than having to ask obvious questions a few weeks into your tenure with the new employer.

Carry a notebook with you, too, so you can record answers. That way, you won’t have to ask the same questions twice.

Some people will try to “fake it till they make it” when starting a new job and appear more knowledgeable than they are. Beware: This strategy can backfire, and it likely doesn’t fool anyone, anyway.

Meeting the Boss

You’ll likely meet your new (and hopefully awesome) boss on your first day, as well. The new boss will probably get you familiar with expectations for your new role, as well as help with computer logins and other logistical things.

As we mentioned above, don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially if you’re assigned a task on your first day.

Also ask the new boss how they like to communicate. Some managers prefer in-person talks, while others may prefer email or instant messaging. Don’t wait for the new boss to tell you, and don’t assume he or she likes to communicate like other managers you’ve had in the past.

Ask About the Dress Code

One area that’s ripe for a potentially awkward moment is showing up on your first day underdressed. Make it a point to ask the HR manager about the company’s dress code before your first day.

Even if the HR manager says business casual, it’s smart to dress for success to make a good first impression. If your first-day outfit makes you a little overdressed, you can always tone it down later.

Expect to Make Mistakes

Being new means a lot of what you’ll be doing will be unfamiliar – and you’re bound to make a few mistakes. The key is to not hide the mistakes and treat them as a learning experience.

If you do make a mistake, be honest about it and ask how you can avoid repeating it. Managers and co-workers will appreciate the honesty because it shows character and a willingness to learn.

Don’t be discouraged by little mistakes early on. Just make sure that you do learn and grow from them – and don’t keep repeating them over and over.

Keep Calm and Carry On

It’s natural to feel nervous on the first day of a new job, so don’t beat yourself up if at any point you feel overwhelmed. To help calm your nerves, practise some self-care before you head into the office for the first day.

Get a good night’s rest, eat a good breakfast, and get to the office about 15 minutes early so you’re not rushing in the morning. More and more career experts are also encouraging people to practice mindfulness (in the morning and throughout the day) to stay calm during nerve-wracking situations.

Remember your new employer hired you for a reason, and they want to see you do well. Many employers also don’t expect much from you on the first day, so don’t push yourself to come out of the gate too strong.

What to expect on the first day of a new job will be different at each company, but there are some commonalities. First days are all about making a good first impression and connecting with your new co-workers.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions on your first day and keep your demeanour very professional – until you understand what the office culture is like.

Finally, remember to enjoy it! After the first day, the real work will pick up. So, relish the time spent getting acclimated to your new workplace.

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