So, you got the job.
Now it’s your first day.
You get through the door, but what do you do now?
Well, someone will probably show you your work space, introduce you to your job, and carry out all of the usual company formalities (such as the ever exciting fire alarm procedure).
However, they probably won’t give you any advice like that in this post.
Today I will cover ‘how to survive your first day at work’, and the things that you SHOULD, or in some cases, SHOULDN’T DO when starting a new job.
But like all things that you do on your first day, you aren’t really ‘surviving’ the first day. You aren’t going to die if it goes wrong.
These points are aimed at using your first day and weeks to your advantage, to set you up for a good future in your new workplace.
SHOULD – Create a Great First Impression
If you’re a regular here at Hero and Villain Style, this point should be no surprise.
You SHOULD ALWAYS try to create a great first impression, but it is especially important in the workplace, where your career and pay check will increase with respect and likeability.
How can you achieve this?
- Dress the Part.
- Ensure that you’re well groomed.
- Increase your confidence.
- Use positive first impression non-verbal cues.
SHOULD – Get to know the Team
Introduce yourself to everyone.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the CEO, or the door man.
Let them know about you.
This will this help with point one, as people will assume that you’re confident, sociable and open.
SHOULD – Research the Company
Although knowing about the company you are working for isn’t usually essential, I would recommend to try and keep yourself up to date with the company’s recent developments.
Consequently, you will be as up to speed as the current members of staff, and perhaps be able ‘impress’ them with your knowledge.
For example, look up if they’ve had any recent large, public dealings, or, perhaps, if they are a clothing brand, the sort of products they are pushing in the current collection.
SHOULD – Be Proactive & Ask LOTS of Questions – (How to Survive Your First Day at Work)
I’ll always remember of my managers praising me for being an annoying arse:
‘I like how you always ask me questions and get things right, opposed to not asking me questions and getting things wrong.’
She wasn’t being sarcastic – it was true.
It is likely that, even if they don’t say it explicitly, your superiors have the same mentality.
So, if you are having trouble with something, swallow your pride and ask someone – it’s certainly better than not asking someone, and getting it disastrously wrong.
It shows proactivity and interest, and usually creates a better outcome than simply winging it and hoping for the best.
After all, as you’re new, they can’t expect you to have mastered everything. (And, really, this should be the case for at least the first 6 months.)
SHOULD – Report Mistakes & Take Responsibility
Perhaps you didn’t follow my previous point, or were simply unlucky, and screwed up.
These things happen.
In this situation, you should is to attempt to rectify your mistake, and if you can’t, let someone know who can.
DO NOT LEAVE THE SITUATION FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO FIX.
If they find out it was you, and, lets face it, it’s probably going to be the new guy, then it won’t look good on you and have them label you as untrustworthy and incompetent.
SHOULD – Try to Shine
If you’re anything like me, you probably want to show your employers that they made the right decision.
By simply following all of the points on this list, you will already be ahead of everyone else.
However, you may want to show them that you’re better than that.
How can you do this?
Well, ‘try to shine’.
It’s difficult to do this just on your first day, but in the first few weeks of your employment, stay consistent and go the extra mile. Something might work out very well for you.
SHOULD – Make friends.
Earlier, I detailed the importance of introducing yourself.
Well, something else you should do is ‘make friends’, which goes one step further. Here, you will be making allies, and building lasting relationships.
It’s very important to do so.
Not only will it make going to work more enjoyable, but you’ll become more respected and notorious as a result.
A simple way to get the ball rolling with people is by asking them questions:
How long have you worked here?
It is usually this busy/quiet?
What’s going on in the company right now?
When you get them talking about something they know about, take an interest in the responses, inject some of your lethal charisma into your comebacks, and build relationships.
This approach doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s a solid, non intrusive and non-controversial start.
DON’T – Dress Poorly (How to Survive Your First Day at Work)
I run the risk of sounding like a broken record, as I’ve essentially already mentioned this point before (under first impressions), but I’m going to mention it again:
Don’t dress poorly.
Make sure you bring your style A game on your first day.
People judge you by the first impression you make on them, which can last for the whole duration of your relationship.
You might nail all of the other ‘first impression points’, such as have a ‘killer hand shake’, but your physical appearance, in my opinion, trumps them all (as is completely in your control, and sends extremely potent signals about your status).
Assuming you have good posture and grooming, then the only thing that can go wrong for you is your clothing.
You don’t have to claim your place as the office fashionista, but you should make sure that you follow the general foundation rules of style:
- Make sure all of your clothing fits.
- Make sure all of the colours work together, by keeping it simple.
DON’T – Over or under dress.
The one thing that is worse than dressing poorly is dressing incorrectly.
That is, turning up to your first day at a tech startup in a three piece suit.
That would be severely overdressing for the occasion.
Even if you look like James Bond, you’ll be out of place and come off as a bit of a snob.
Conversely, if you turn up in flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt, not only will you be dressing badly (see the previous point), but you’ll also be under dressing, giving the impression of incompetence.
You should have identified the company’s dress culture when you were finding out how to dress for your interview.
To not over or under dress, dress yourself at, or one step above, this ‘dress culture’.
DON’T – Forget Names – (How to Survive Your First Day at Work)
This is super awkward and embarrassing.
But, like all mistakes, happens to the best of us (even millionaire entrepreneurs – trust me, I know all too well), especially when we are exposed to 20 new faces at once.
What you shouldn’t do, like before, is nothing.
If you can’t remember someone’s name, then simply ask them as soon as possible.
I would place this at very high importance, as you’re going to work with these people for the foreseeable future, and don’t want compromise your respect and likeability early on.
In my opinion, this is worth putting more energy and effort into than getting comfortable with your surroundings and the actual job on your first day.
This is because you can passively get better with your surroundings and your job – they are forgiving, and allow mistakes.
But you have limited time to learn your colleague’s names.
Not only are they attached to emotional creatures with egos (unlike a till, which won’t retaliate if you accidentally click the wrong button), but you really just can’t be forgetting names, or worse, getting them wrong, a few days or weeks down the line – it’s embarrassing.
DON’T – Turn up Late
I’m not saying that my punctuality record is perfect.
But it’s the truth that I have been early on every first day that I’ve had.
Turning up late on your first day is a terrible start, and sends signals to your employer that it could possibly be a trend to come.
Again, its all about ensuring a good first impression.
Conclusion – How to Survive your First Day at Work
Getting off to a good start is important, especially in the work place.
It will sometimes determine the whole of your say at the company.
By following these general guide lines, you’ll make sure that you maximise your potential impact, so you can easily survive your first day, and weeks, at work.