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Starting a New Job? Here’s How to Get Ready for Your First Day


Starting a new job can be both scary and exciting. It’s a new chapter in your career and likely a step up in your professional game, opening up new opportunities to grow and challenge yourself. Just like the first day at school, the first day at work can be intimidating, as you get to know a new building, meet new people, and try to find the closest bathroom. While your first day will likely be a plethora of HR paperwork and orientation videos, you’ll still want to put your best foot forward and be prepared for anything. Here are a few tips to avoid jitters on the first day of your new job.

(Photo Credit: Dru Bloomfield/Flickr)

Get Some Sleep

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It may be difficult, but do your best to get a good night’s rest before your first day. According Diane Gottsman over at The Muse, preparing your outfit and lunch ahead of time can help you not only sleep easier (knowing that everything’s ready to go) but also go to sleep earlier. Showing up alert and energized will help you make a great first impression.

Dress to Impress

On that note, be sure you dress appropriately for your first day. When you interviewed, you may have been able to sneak a peek at what type of attire your co-workers were wearing. If not, check out your company’s Facebook page. These days, many post candid photos of employees while at work or during lunch, giving you an opportunity to gauge what’s appropriate. 

Kate Stull at Popforms writes that you’ll want to ”match or slightly exceed the level of formality that’s expected in the office. Especially on your first day, dressing to meet their level demonstrates a basic understanding of social norms, which is an important quick-read clue that you are someone who will fit in.”

Do Your Homework

Before you even set foot through the door, it’s important to know who you’ll be working with and if there’s anything you should know before you start your commute on the first day. Stull advises emailing the hiring manager to literally ask if there’s anything you should know, as well as asking where to park, how to get into the building, and if there’s anything you should bring. If the building is secured, you’ll want to program the office phone number into your cell so that you can have someone let you in, as you likely won’t have a badge before your first day. 

Bring Your Lunch (As Long As It’s Not Tuna Fish)

While you may be accustomed to going out to eat everyday, there may not be time to grab food during your first day. (It may also not be culturally acceptable in your new office to leave for lunch, which you won’t find out until you get there.) Be sure to pack a healthy, nutritious, easy-to-eat lunch.

As Gottsman recalls, “One exec I know was so excited on her first day of work that she forgot to eat lunch entirely. She began feeling faint and jittery by mid-afternoon, and it was so bad she had to go home. Don’t let that be you.”

That said, don’t bring tuna fish.

“Lunch at your desk may be tempting, but keep your lunch choice odor free,” advises Gottsman. “It’s best to get out of the office, or at least eat in the company break room to give yourself a change of scenery — and a chance to meet some of your new colleagues.”

Don’t Be Late

Finally, be sure you allow yourself plenty of time to get to work on the first day. If you live in an area where traffic hiccups are the norm, definitely allow yourself plenty of extra time to get to work. If a normal commute is 40 minutes, give yourself at least an hour.

You don’t want to be like yours truly, who was over two hours late to her first job right out of college because I underestimated the commute from my parents’ house in the suburbs to downtown Seattle during a massive rainstorm. (Luckily, everyone at the office understood.) Also, as Stull says, consider factors such as parking and how far you’ll have to walk. If you can, try to do a “test run” a day or two before you start, to gauge just how long it will take you.

Tell Us What You Think

What tips do you have for new employees on the first day of the job? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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Donna Evans
Donna Evans

Great advice

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