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First Day at a New Job: The Official “You Got This” Checklist

So, you finally got the job you worked so hard for. Woo hoo! Now that the most stressful event is over, it’s time to talk about the second most stressful event. Your first day at the new job.

Here’s the truth: If you go into it with the right mindset, your first day on the job can be an enjoyable, enlightening experience. Walk through those doors with humble confidence, follow this first day at the new job checklist, and you’ll rock it!

P.S. Thinking you might have a first day coming up in the next few months? Save this article and come back for a visit.

Tip # 1 – Be yourself

This is first for a reason! Remember, you were hired because your employer evaluated you, was impressed, and concluded you’d be a valuable addition to the team. The first day at work can be a whirlwind of meetings, orientation activities, and stacks of paperwork. Be patient and smile off the chaos of your first day. This is all normal!

Tip # 2 – Be early! (but not too early)

You definitely don’t want to be late on your first day.

Before making your commute, take time to research how long the trip will take, considering alternate routes in the event of heavy traffic or public transportation delays. To be on the safe side, leave a 15- to 20-minute cushion. Perhaps even earlier if your commute is a complex one.

Believe it or not, arriving especially early can cause issues too. From HR, to IT, your manager, and even your team members, multiple departments are likely to be involved in your onboarding process. Make sure they have the time they need to prepare for you.

At the end of the day, we advise walking through the door about 10 minutes early. And remember, waiting in your car for 20 minutes is a whole lot better than racing against the clock.

Tip # 3 – Dress appropriately

Were you able to get a look at your coworkers’ outfits during the interview process? If so, you probably got a sense for the overall dress code. Since it’s your first day, aim for a bit more polished and professional, just to be safe. Remember, being (a bit) overdressed is far better than being underdressed. Leave the three-piece suit at home, but dress in a way that represents you professionally.

Tip # 4 – Accept the lunch invite

While being asked to grab lunch is no guarantee, if a colleague or supervisor happens to toss an invite your way, go for it! This will allow you to get a feel for your team outside the office, and for your colleagues to get to know you on a personal level. Be sure to maintain a professional demeanor, but feel free to engage in lighter topics if they arise.

Judge Pro Tip: If the conversation turns to gossip, listen but do not engage. We repeat, do not engage! It simply isn’t worth the risk. You don’t know anything about interoffice dynamics yet, including who might be acquainted with who, or who might be quietly evaluating how you behave behind closed doors.

Tip # 5 – Ask questions – lots of them

Before starting your new job, compile a list of questions to ask on your first day at work. You don’t want to stick to a script but thinking through some of these in advance will help prime your brain when the right opportunities arise. In addition to your point person, consider bouncing a few questions off your co-workers too. As long as you are respectful, (i.e. you allow your conversationalist to respond fully and avoid overdoing it) most people will be impressed that you are taking the initiative to learn.

Judge Pro Tip: Make sure to take notes! It will help you remember and will convey professionalism.

Tip # 6 – Avoid being a know-it-all

Here’s the reality. You will have plenty of time to convey an accurate impression of who you are and what value you bring to the company. From a colleague’s perspective, there are few things more eyeroll inducing than a newbie claiming to have all the solutions before learning the first thing about the internal office dynamics.

But hey… maybe you really do have the answers in your back pocket. Even so (you one in a million superstar, you) you will still need to develop a careful understanding of your work environment before strategically communicating your ideas when the time is right.

In summary…

Be a sponge! You cannot show all your skills, talent, and knowledge on your first day at the new job (heck, probably not even the first few months). The first day is all about being humble, friendly, and confident.

Have a great first day!