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Your New First Day

Posted by: Peter Jackson

After the endless editing of your CV/resume, writing fresh cover letters for new job applications, withering interviews, the sleepless nights waiting for phone calls at each stage to confirm application progression, and the huge outpouring of adrenaline once you received an offer for the position you wanted, you have finally reached the start date for the job. Inevitably, you didn’t enjoy the final few days or weeks of the freedom you had as much as you wanted (tempus fugit, right?), but those days are gone now. Turn off Netflix, put the ice cream back in the freezer, iron your smart clothes, and find your professional head again. 

Whether this is your first job, or a fresh start with a new company, your first day is going to be memorable for you, your boss, and anyone whom you find an opportunity to make an effort with. It will be a day of HR induction, of office protocol orientation, and the real hard work might not begin until day two, depending on the type of job. However, whatever the role, these tips are foolhardy for a host of people. 

New job, new routines? Plenty of us are always saying how we wished we had a better sleeping pattern, healthier diet, more time to read books, watch the media we’ve been missing, see friends we haven’t seen for far too long. Well, let this fresh start be the chance to remould your daily – and weekly – life into something over which you have more control. If you’re commuting, think of productive ways to commute, e.g. reading, listening to podcasts, responding to social media/emails. 

If you were spending too much for lunch at the previous job, try something new now. What about taking a pre-prepared lunch with you? Sandwiches, salads, wraps. You’ll find that the office/site kitchen has all kinds of containers that people bring with them for their lunch. 

If you always felt like you were flagging by mid-afternoon despite three cups of coffee, then perhaps the problem is that you’re staying awake too late at night. There’s no harm in trying a new sleep schedule. Find out what really works for you. Are you an 8 hour person or is 4-6 enough for you to maintain stable energy levels? Ensuring that you drink plenty of water throughout the day is vital. 

What’s the code? No, not the door code for your new job’s office/site/facilities (though you should probably note that down), but the dress code. If you’re unsure, then the liaison who sent over your job offer will know.  A quick email or phone call can prevent you standing out like a sore thumb. Furthermore, looking clean and tidy will certainly create a good first impression in the office. The “scraggly hermit” look can be developed later down the line. 

Arrive precisely at the perfect time, no sooner and no later. Yes, yes, a bit vague. However, generally speaking, 15 minutes before your start time is great. Remember that your boss, your line manager, the HR team, and maybe even people in IT and Accounts will have had to perform tasks to integrate you into the team, if you turn up too early then they might feel encumbered. Is it even necessary to mention that you mustn’t be late, and that if you are, please please please do us all a favour and phone ahead to apologise. 

Whether you’re driving, cycling, walking, using the train or bus or whatever other mode of transport (does anyone ride horses to work these days?), ensure that you’re aware of the best routes. Shortest distance, best for traffic. Practise the routes once or twice the week before you start. It’s best to do these trial runs during rush-hour, since that’s the time you’ll likely be commuting. Monday morning rush-hour gridlock is vastly different to Sunday afternoon empty roads. 

Engage Supernova. Your job-specific duties might not begin on day one, but that doesn’t mean that your attitude should be missing on day one. Concentrate, be open-minded, be patient. There will be lots of new names to learn, logins to memorise, software to discover. Your new colleagues will be curious about you. Have your elevator pitch ready. Who are you? What’s your job position? What does that involve? Why have you joined? What were you doing before? 

You will likely be invited to lunch. Whether that entails a fancy restaurant experience or simply to join somebody on their walk to the local supermarket... say YES! If your colleagues reach out to you, it's crucial that you respond positively and demonstrate a willingness to try to forge new relationships. The lunch you packed can wait for another time...

Listening and nodding is great, asking questions is even better. If you’re being shown how to use new technology or software, leave nothing to chance. If you would benefit from the mentor repeating an instruction or piece of information, then ask. Nobody will be expecting you to nail everything on day one. What you can do is show how much you care.

Set aims. These can be abstract at first, since you will yet to be fully embedded into your duties, but you can set targets with medium-to-long term completion dates that will serve as continuous motivators during grey days. Examples: Use this new job to develop a new skill; become competent with a new tool, or piece of software/hardware? Writing a certain type of report? Going beyond your expected duties – is there an upcoming project that you could register your interest in? Outline how you could be of assistance with your current skillset and your enthusiasm will be duly noted. Perhaps it will be a more tangible aim, such as making better use of your savings at the end of each month. We all have our secret avaricious desires – is yours a new car, or a holiday? Whatever it is, now is the chance to discipline yourself. 

If you’re really engaged, your biggest aim might be career progression. Is this current job role a step beneath where you hope to be? Concentration, care, and attention are crucial in developing a knowledge of the business, its aims, and its ethos, that will help you to stand out as an employee in everything that you do. Success is in the details, and not clichés. 

Most importantly, it’s a fresh start.

You are entering a brand new job role, or perhaps a similar one to your previous employment, but so much is about to change: the people, the company ethos, the employer attitudes and vision, external contacts. Every job is unique. What should you bring with you from your past? Your mistakes, because they will help you grow; your skills, your knowledge, all of which can be further honed; and you. Remember, you have been hired. You are the new employee. And this is your new first day.


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