Maybe it’s because graduation season recently wrapped up (or because I myself have been interviewing non-stop and imagining life in a fresh corporate setting), but the question of how one can be successful in their new job has been bouncing around in my head as of late. So much so that I’ve decided to take a deep-dive into how you can show up and be your best self in that new role — both in the professional sense and the personal one.
Whether you’re new to the workforce and the impression you’re making is at job numero uno or you’re a seasoned worker starting over at a company you were recently hired by, here are some digestible tips to flourish during your first days on the job.
First Impressions Are Everything
It’s been years since I’ve had to step foot in a new office setting (three years and six months, to be exact), so a decent amount of time has passed since I’ve had to consider adjusting my approach to work and my attitude while I’m there.
The company I’m currently employed by is casual in almost every sense of the word — employees somehow get away with wearing anything from ripped jeans and tank tops to flipflops and sneakers, lines are very blurred when it comes to inner-office relationships, and for many roles, there are no set schedules to follow (aside from working a full eight hours and taking a 30-minute lunch break). This is definitely not the norm with how other companies operate, so taking a minute to research the office culture or ask HR when it’s unclear is well worth your while. You don’t want to show up in a three-piece suit when everyone around you is wearing jeans (or vice-versa).
During your first days and weeks:
- Show up early and dress as professionally as you think is appropriate (maybe even a bit more than you think).
- Put a big ole’ smile on your face and greet new coworkers and especially your superiors with a friendly handshake.
- Try your best to remember names, specifically for those you will be working closely with. But also, give yourself a break if you forget. There will likely be an information overload as you get your footing during those first few days, so if a name or two slips your mind, just ask politely for a reminder!
- Say yes to invites when you can spare them — Lunch with the team? Yes. Shadowing a meeting with your CEO? Heck yes. Happy hour after work? Why not!? Saying yes to an invite shows you’re excited to be a part of the team. Obviously, don’t over-extend yourself if you just can’t swing something like after-work drinks.
- If part of your onboarding includes training of any sort, take notes, even if you’re provided with a “curriculum.” Not only will taking notes help you in the long-run by providing something in your own words that you can fall back on, but it will also show your employer that you are serious about your new role! I’ve had individuals shadow me who have opted to just sit and listen, and I was unable to tell if they were engaged and processing the information correctly or not. These individuals ended up taking the longest to onboard because they continued to make the same mistakes and ask the same questions over and over. Taking notes would have helped them immensely.
“Coming prepared” can encompass many areas at work. Consider these:
- Aside from the tech aspects of your new role, you’ll most likely be provided a handful of basic supplies on your first day (think pens, sticky notes, a notepad, and, if you’re lucky, a water bottle emblazoned with the logo of the company). However, don’t assume you will be; you should come prepared with the basics no matter what. Bring those mentioned above and anything else you believe you would need to succeed in your role (calculator, file folders, a daily planner, phone charger, etc.).
- Speaking of a reusable water bottle (which you should definitely bring), pack yourself a hearty lunch and plenty of snacks to get you through the day. You might be lucky enough to work for a company with a fully stocked kitchen, but it never hurts to come prepared with some reinforcements to replenish your energy throughout the day.
- Bring any important personal information you can think of — drivers license, banking info, SSN — and keep it all neatly and safely stored in a folder closeby. It’s very likely that during those first few days you’ll be filling out tons of official paperwork (think W2 documents, direct deposit papers, etc.), so having that info handy will speed up the process.
- Another (probably less-obvious) area of preparation that could end up setting you apart from your peers is reviewing the job description for the role you were just hired into and the mission statement/history of the company you now work for. Yes, you probably devoured both as you made it through the interview process, but now that the job is in your hands, it won’t hurt to remind yourself of exactly what is expected of you as you step through those doors on your first day!
Enthusiasm is Key
It’s easy to be wracked with nerves on your first day at the new job — I’m a little anxious just imagining it and I haven’t even been hired yet! Take that nervous energy and channel it into enthusiasm over being exactly where you are. You’ve survived the interview process; the company clearly sees great potential with you. There’s loads to be proud of, and this is just the beginning!
Be sure to show your gratitude for this awesome opportunity provided to you by your employer by participating in activities and volunteering for tasks, even if that’s not something you’d normally do. For example, if a question is posed to your hire group during training, offer your answer or opinion! There’s really nothing more cringe-worthy than a quiet room full of adults afraid to speak up. You’ll surely stand out (in a good way!) from the bunch by willing to take that risk of being wrong.
Your enthusiasm can also translate into how you interact with your peers. If you notice others are eating alone, consider bringing the group together for a social lunch hour. Not only will it give you a chance to get to know your co-workers in a more laid-back setting, but they’ll learn to see you as a friendly face around the office.
Don’t Forget About You
A new job, while extremely exciting, can be stressful and mentally and physically exhausting. So don’t forget to take care of yourself!
This includes drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, exercising, eating well, and creating a morning routine that works for you. It could also involve rewarding yourself with a piping-hot bubble bath and a sheet mask after your first day, or happy hour drinks with your roommate once you’ve made it through your first week. Whatever self-care looks like for you, be sure to prioritize a balanced lifestyle right off the bat so as not to feel drained or overwhelmed a month in.
Remember: While you can’t always control your office surroundings (read: you can rarely control your surroundings), you can control the level of professionalism and the attitude you decide to bring into a new job.
Hopefully, these tips helped to better prepare you for the working world! But if you’re looking for more, Career Contessa, Girlboss, Create & Cultivate, and The Everygirl are great resources for career-related advice.
Good luck in your new role!