You’ve sent out hundreds of resumes. You made it through the grueling interview process. They gave you an offer that you accepted. Now here you are – it’s your first day at a new job. So now what do you do?
Most people are feeling some combination of anxiety and excitement when they start a new job. Whatever your feelings are, you probably have the same goal of most new hires — be successful in your new job. You really only need two things to succeed: the right attitude and the drive to be successful. But here are some tips that you can follow step by step to hit the ground running.
Show up early:
Get there early on your first day. This not only gives others a good first impression of you, but if you plan to arrive early, it could even out any unexpected commuting issues. Also, you start getting used to the place. When you were there for you interview(s), you probably didn’t have time to relax and familiarize yourself with the building, so now’s your chance. You might find something interesting that you can use for conversation starters with your new coworkers.
Be positive, but don’t overdo it:
Many people get too excited on their first day and say how happy they are to work at such a great company and go on and on. Unfortunately, not all of your coworkers will be feeling the same way. Some are on their way out (I had two separate jobs where the manager that hired me gave his notice the week that I started — I almost wondered if it was me) while others are unhappy and wish they were moving on to greener pastures. Keep an open mind and an open ear — you might have an idea to make things better.
Chances are, your first day will have some sort of orientation. Larger companies will most likely have a half to full day session with many new hires. At smaller companies, it might be just you or there could be a handful of others. Make sure you get to know at least a few people in this group, even if you work in completely different areas as you never know when you might need a friend in that department. And don’t be afraid to do a little networking — ask the people you meet if you connect on LinkedIn or get their names and send them a quick email after you get access to the company’s email system. You’re all starting something new together so use that sense of commonality to build your network within the company.
Each manager handles new hires differently. Some walk them around and introduce them to people in their work area, others also introduce them to key people and some (especially at smaller companies) bring them around to everyone in the division or company. If your manager doesn’t do this, ask them. And don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers to take you around to introduce you to their friends. And take a notebook with you so you can make some notes if someone tells you something you want to note.
It’s very easy to get overwhelmed when you meet so many people so take a few moments at your desk to just write down who you met. Don’t be afraid to engage these people when you see them. Most friendly people will ask you how your day is going so don’t be afraid to ask them things like how long they’ve been at the company or something about their role in the company. You’d be surprised at how many people want to help you.
Don’t eat lunch alone:
Lunch works differently at each company and even from group to group within the same company. Some groups have a designated lunch time while other groups only allow one or two people to take lunch at the same time. Some groups will take their new hires out to lunch on their first day to welcome them (this may be delayed a day or two to accommodate coworkers that might not be around that day) and that’s usually a great sign. If your orientation includes lunch, use that time to meet and interact with other new hires.
If lunch plans have not been made for you, ask a few of your coworkers what they do. I’ve worked at jobs where everyone in my group ate lunch at their desks so they could leave early. When this is the case, you have a few options. First, you could ask some of the people that you met outside of your group what they do and if you could tag along. Try to find someone that seemed friendly. Another option, if there’s a cafeteria in your building, is to walk down there around lunchtime and look for some of the people that you met earlier in the day and ask if you can join them – it could be someone from your orientation or someone that you were introduced to.
Focus on your job:
While many of us can’t help but check our smart phones every few minutes, you probably want to limit your non-work related activities while you’re at work. This means not texting your friends, not checking personal email and not surfing the web. If you find this to be a challenge, lock your phone up in your car or shut off the data feed on your phone to minimize alerts (and the temptation to check those alerts).
Starting a new job can be both exciting and intimidating. But by starting with the right plan and the right attitude, you can easily make it a successful experience.
James Feudo owns the Boston Web Design Agency JVF Solutions and loves blogging about personal development and communication in his spare time.