10 TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST DAY

There’s a reason why changing jobs is counted as one of the most stressful undertakings in life, after making the decision to leave, there is then the task of applying for roles, going for interviews, the nervous wait for a job offer then the even more stressful task of letting your boss know you’re moving on!  Studies show that the degree to which you and your employer are satisfied with adaptation within the first 90 days of your new role plays a HUGE role in future success and happiness with your new employer.

First impressions last; and it’s not just your new boss weighing you up, your new colleagues and even receptionist could play a role in how easily you settle in, how much training and support you get, and even whether you’re the right person for a promotion in years to come!

So how do you make a great first impression?  Read on….

1. Be on time, but not too early

It really should go without saying; however the importance of being ‘on time’ is still a skill that not everyone has mastered.  Your new boss, and colleagues, are weighing you up even before you arrive – after all, training and skill-sharing adds hours to their day and takes a lot of energy – they want to make sure you’re worth the investment and are going to invest as much in them as they are in you.  Ensure you have planned your route to work, maybe even trialled the train/ bus line to check that your transport arrives when it says it does, and that there are enough spaces on your bus so you don’t get stranded.  If magically you happen to arrive more than 10 minutes early for your new job, DON’T go in!!  Your new manager will generally have come in a little earlier that day to clear emails etc. before offering you the welcome you deserve!

2. Dress professionally

So, you wore you best suit for interview, however noted that no one else had one on… what to wear?  Your best bet for your first day and week is to try assimilating.  DON’T try stand out by wearing your most fashion forward get-up, you don’t want your new colleagues talking more about your wardrobe than your professionalism, great ideas and friendly demeanour.  Also ensure you have hair and nails clean and styled – no chipped nail polish or dirty hair in a ponytail.  For the guys, no big shaggy-over face-Justin-Bieberesque do’s and dirty chewed nails!  Ladies, a bit of make-up never killed anyone, so best face forward with at least some mascara and lip gloss – however draw the line before Saturday night smoky eyes and over the top lips!  Keep tattoos covered, wear closed toe shoes, and definitely no cleavage or thighs out!!  Sound like school?  Well you’re about to enter another playground, with the same cliques, rumours and whispers, however this time your chance to get to the big time will be influenced by how others perceive you.

3. Be ready to work; not hungover, tired or otherwise lacking enthusiasm

Sometimes you get lucky enough to work for a really cool boss, who might be happy sharing their war stories from the weekend.  That doesn’t make it OK for you to immediately jump in with yours!  I’ve hired (and later let go of) one staff member who must have told me how tired she was at least 5 times on her first day.  I’m not an uncaring person, but guess what: most people don’t care if you’re tired, in fact they probably are tired themselves, they just want to know that whatever information they are imparting on you is being absorbed and that you are taking this opportunity as seriously as they are.  So be ready and be happy, today could be the start of a great thing for you.

4. Be friendly, not imposing

It’s intimidating going into a new workplace, everyone else already knows each other and you might be struggling to remember your boss’ name. Sometimes an attack of shyness can come over, however it’s crucially important on your first day to give a firm handshake, direct eye contact, dashing smile and happy hello to everyone you are introduced to.  If you meet someone in the kitchen, introduce yourself as the new kid in town rather than awkwardly staring at the floor.  Wouldn’t it be great at the end of the week to hear that people have been talking about you saying ‘That new guy in IT seems nice’ rather than ‘oh, is that who that was, saw them in the kitchen and they stared at their feet to avoid eye contact with me… odd’.  On the flip side, friendships take time to cultivate, be friendly but don’t invite yourself to lunch or jump into conversations or you might be avoided as being overly-friendly (and a bit annoying).

5. Take notes

Over your first few weeks you will be fed a lot of information.  From how to answer and transfer internal calls, through to who is responsible for what and then the technical aspects of your role.  TAKE NOTES!!  I’m sure we all have that friend, brother, child or previous colleague who constantly asked the same questions, or said they understood something only to stuff it up moments later.  Don’t be that guy. Be the guy who ‘picks things up quickly’ and is ‘coming along in leaps and bounds’ and who pays respect to the person teaching them by taking their time and efforts seriously.

6. Take a packed lunch

You never know what your first day will bring; your new manager may have scheduled you a big day of meeting everyone and training and completely forgotten that you might need to eat! Some discreetly packed snacks will mean you can quickly fuel-up and take advantage of every piece of information coming your way. Drawing attention to the fact that it’s 3pm and you’ve not yet had a lunch break will only make your new boss feel bad when they tried so hard to make your first day great!  Likewise you may not have shops nearby and if you’re anything like me the food rage will make your first impression on your first afternoon an interesting one…

7. Be flexible

Whilst it’s great to turn up to a desk, computer, phone, handover/ manual etc. all set up for you, this is rarely the case.  Economic pressures over the past few years mean that HR and IT teams are stretched to capacity, the good intentions of your manager may have been swamped by last weeks’ last-minute demands and no one has gotten around to thinking about where you are going to sit!  Take it all in your stride, once you get your desk, system log-ins and phone line I’m sure you will get enough time with them over coming months to make up for it! Help out where you can and make yourself useful until you can get into the meaty-stuff.  Likewise, you may not get to leave on time the first day, or week.  Don’t make plans directly after work your first day, you may even get taken out by your new team for welcome drinks!

8. Have a good breakfast

Over a third of adults in Australia don’t eat breakfast, a statistic directly correlated with rising obesity, and probably also related to the increase in business in the coffee industry!  You may not get a lunch-break, or a chance to eat until the afternoon and you will probably be in meetings or having one on one training for much of your morning.  Yawning through this and ‘vagueing out’ doesn’t make a good impression, so go on, make ten minutes for a couple of weeties- you won’t regret it!

9. Do some research on up to date company news

Some well-placed questions through your first week of meetings and training directly linked to your knowledge of the company, updates and website will only impress.  Do a “Google news” search and check out the company’s website before you start to show your boss that you are excited to be part of their business.

10. Take your bank details, superannuation fund details TFN etc.

There are a lot of reasons we go to work; fulfilment, ambition, social aspects etc. but let’s face it – everyone wants to get paid!  No doubt you will have some forms to fill in on your first day and you will probably have some spare time sitting around waiting whilst your trainer/ boss attends to other matters, a great way to get your contracts signed and forms completed ready to go.

Good luck!


Claire smallAbout the Author

Claire Williamson is State Manager of Queensland and manages both the AccountAbility and Ambition Finance teams.  Originally hailing from our Nation’s Capital, she has been with the business for 6 years and has 10 years business consulting experience.  With a background in Psychology, Claire’s passion is creating long term career success and strong, results driven teams.

D: 07 3009 6116
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