Your first day of work at a new job can be exciting and nerve-wracking. There’s a lot to learn—like what your new coworkers are like and what the team dynamics are. While every workplace is different, you can use a universal set of tips to prepare. In this piece, we outline how to conquer your first day of work and offer guidance for adjusting to a new work environment.
So you’ve secured a new job—score! The hard part is over. With your first day of work approaching, you’re likely feeling excited and nervous. No two workplaces are the same, so as you walk through the office doors or enter your company's online chat room for the first time, try to embrace the uncertainty.
Before the big day arrives, the best thing you can do is adjust your expectations and prepare yourself accordingly. Then, once you’re at work, focus on your introduction and the first impressions you’ll make. Most importantly, remember that your first day of work is an opportunity to learn.
No matter your role, there are 10 universal tips you can use to have a successful first day of work. It’s normal to have jitters when trying something new, but if you apply the tips below, you’ll start your new position feeling confident and comfortable.Free new hire preparation template
Your company may keep it simple on day one because they don’t want to bombard you with too much information all at once. While you may not receive a list of long-term goals right away, you should still prepare to be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge as you can. Some things you may learn on your first day of work include:
Company mission, values, and policies
Overview of your role and responsibilities
Tools, logins, and passwords
Team member names and roles
If you aren’t prepared to take in a lot of information on your first day of work, you may have trouble grasping material as the week progresses. It’s easier to retain new concepts once you have the foundation mastered.
Tip: Your first day of work may feel overwhelming, so practice releasing control and letting go of your expectations before you head into the day. That way, you can process new information with an open mind. Try to relax by doing breathing exercises, meditation, or listening to calm music the night before your first day. This will prepare you to be energized and process new information on day one.
Creating a list of questions before you arrive for your first day of work can set you up for an informative and productive day. After receiving your offer letter, you’ll likely have many questions running through your head. Make sure you write those questions down, or they might slip your mind once you get to work. The first day can be hectic, so it’s helpful to have questions ready to go for when you have free time.
Some questions you may want to ask the human resources department or fellow team members include:
Who do I report to? Is there an organizational chart I can review?
How will my performance be reviewed? How frequently do we do performance reviews?
What decisions am I in charge of making? What decision making policies, if any, do we have in place? Who are my main stakeholders?
What are the current team dynamics? Which cross-functional teams do we work with most often?
Tip: You may not get a chance to ask all of these questions on your first day, and that's okay. By writing them down and keeping a list, you can get to them when you have dedicated one-on-one time with your manager or mentor. As you onboard, you’ll inevitably have new questions, which you can add to your ongoing list.
You’ve probably heard this tip many times before, but it’s worth repeating. If you don’t get enough sleep before your first day of work, you’ll have trouble focusing, grasping information, and presenting the best version of yourself. Getting between seven and eight hours of sleep per night is the sweet spot. Anything below that can significantly reduce productivity.
A study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows that those who reported getting five to six hours of sleep experienced 19 percent more productivity loss. Additionally, those who got less than five hours of sleep experienced 29 percent more productivity loss.
Tip: To increase your sleep quality before your first day of work, try adjusting your sleep schedule one week in advance. You can also try exercising the day before work so you’re sufficiently tired when bedtime comes. Limiting tech before you hit the sheets can also increase sleep quality.
Your team members will appreciate it when you enter the workspace prepared. Every company uses specific tools and programs to operate, and you’ll have a better chance of success if you familiarize yourself with these tools early on.
While some tools may require a paid subscription, many of them offer free trials which will give you an introductory look at what you might experience when using them in the workplace. You may want to study up on tools for:
Communication: Gmail, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom
Project management: Asana
Search engine optimization: Ahrefs, Google Analytics, SEMrush
Time tracking: TimeDoctor, Everhour, TaskBill.io
Customer relationship management: Salesforce, MuleSoft, Zoho CRM
Cloud backup: DropBox, Jira Cloud, BetterCloud
Scheduling: HourStack, Google Calendar
Data analysis and documentation: Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, Databox
Working from home offers more flexibility, but it also means team members rely heavily on tech. The more you know about your new company’s tools and processes before entering the office, the less you’ll have to learn on the job.
Tip: If you have an effective process or program from a past job role, consider introducing it to your team. The tools you use to manage your team and the projects you work on can have a positive impact on overall performance.Free new hire preparation template
Before your first day, practice your elevator pitch so you can give a valuable introduction in the workplace. You may have secured a position with your new employer, but it’s equally important to give this pitch when you meet your team so you can leave a good first impression.
The goal of this is to explain who you are, what you offer, and your goals as a leader. Since this is an introduction, you should end your pitch by engaging the listener. That way, your pitch becomes a two-way conversation and also gives them the opportunity to introduce themselves.
Tip: The elevator pitch got its name because you should be able to present all of your information in the time it takes to ride an elevator with someone. Practice your pitch at home the week before your first day of work to get it right. Consider these questions: Who am I? What experience am I bringing to the team? What do I want to help the team accomplish?
Aside from introducing yourself through an elevator pitch, you should try to get to know your team on a more personal level. We spend one-third of our lives working, so it’s safe to say you’ll spend a lot of time with your new team. Your work life will be much less enjoyable if you don’t get along with them, and it’ll also be harder to accomplish team projects.
Try using icebreaker questions during lunch or break times to get your coworkers talking about themselves and spark conversations. Some ice breaker questions you can as as a new team member include:
Do you have any pets?
What was your first job?
What’s one piece of career advice you would give to a new hire?
What is your current desktop or cell phone wallpaper?
What book are you currently reading?
You can also try playing team building games like two truths and a lie or trivia to encourage your team to work together while learning more about one another.
Tip: Your colleagues will be your best resources for information and support during your time at your new job. These people have similar perspectives on the structure and dynamics of your workplace. Once your title of “new hire” has faded, continue reaching out to others when you need help. You can then offer the same guidance to other newbies one day.
One way to leave a good first impression is by bringing positive energy on the first day of work. The energy you bring will pave the way for how you handle the rest of your career. Positive energy leads to healthy group dynamics and better opportunities, while negative energy leads to poor relationships and a glass-half-empty mindset.
When you have negative energy, it bleeds into your daily tasks, your meetings, and your work capabilities. Research shows that when you work with a positive mindset, performance on nearly every level—productivity, creativity, engagement—improves.
Tip: Having positive energy doesn’t require an overly upbeat attitude if that isn’t your natural personality. On your first day of work, simply try to relax and smile so your team knows you’re grateful for the position. Nonverbal communication can send the message that you’re unhappy, tired, or frustrated, so be aware of your body language.
The best way to leave a good first impression on your team members is to show genuine interest in what they do and what they have to say.
There are many ways to show interest in your coworkers. Some ways include:
Look them in the eye
Listen when they speak
Ask follow-up questions
Remember things they tell you
Tip: You may have trouble listening because you’re focused on what you plan to say next. This inevitably leads to a less genuine and engaged conversation. Instead, avoid multitasking and practice active listening. Take time during conversations to digest the other person’s words. When you do, the interaction will be more valuable and you’ll likely leave a stronger impression.
You may receive training materials during your first week so you know how to do your job, but if you want to excel in your role, simply listen and observe. If you work from home, watch how your coworkers interact through content management systems or other applications like Asana.
Observe any processes your team members have in place and mimic their behavior. Listen to the language they use and the topics they discuss during meetings. When you listen, you gain knowledge quickly, which means you can more readily apply that knowledge.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions during your time in training. If you’re observing a meeting but don’t understand why your team handles things a certain way, find an appropriate time to chime in and clarify, then let them continue.
Being a fly on the wall will help you understand how your company functions, but you should also learn through hands-on experience. This is when you can use your past knowledge and build on it for future growth.
If you enter your new job with a solid set of skills, add value to your team by teaching your skills to your team members. As you teach others, you’ll also learn from them. This is how team collaboration flourishes.
Tip: Be humble when using past knowledge in a new position. If you want to bring a new perspective to your team, try to do so in an approachable way by leading weekly Lunch and Learn sessions or trainings that focus on specific topics or skills.Read: Teamwork in the workplace: 11 benefits (with examples)
You can’t predict what will happen on your first day of work, but with a little preparation and a healthy dose of confidence, you can leave a good first impression on your new team members.
Remember that this day comprises only eight hours of the career you have in front of you. In the coming weeks, you’ll have many opportunities to prove yourself and get to know your team on a deeper level. When you start your new job with the right foot forward, you can set the tone for what’s ahead.Free new hire preparation template