Starting any new job can be tough. You survived the interview but now you want to make a great first impression. How do you rock your first day at the office?
The worst strategy ever: Walking into a new situation clueless. A much better strategy, ask a few questions to be prepared!
Being prepared will help you outwardly show confidence. And confidence is a great first impression! Here are a few more ways to show that you know what's up!
Know the dress code.
Dressing appropriately for the job will be one of the easiest things you can do to show you fit in. But this goes far beyond the dress code listed in the HR handbook.
Think back to what you saw your interviewers wear? Were the ladies in cardigans, dress shirts, polos or dresses? Obviously you want to dress your body so that you can feel fabulous, but try to stick with the same look as your new coworkers.
My college accounting professor called this “being a good zebra”. I have a complete guide to dressing the part here.
Know where to go and what to bring
Picture this, you show up at the office on the first day, walk in the front door and realize you're not sure where you're supposed to go or who you're supposed to see! As you're aimlessly walking through the lobby, all of the executives at the company are walking past you with a dumbfounded look on your face… bad first impression!
All companies are different. Sometimes you meet the same people you interviewed with, sometimes you go directly to HR to fill out your paperwork. You want to know who you should ask for in the lobby and what paperwork you need to bring on the first day.
Sometimes HR wants you to fill out your benefits paperwork as well. If you have to choose health insurance you might be a little clueless! Bring this cheat sheet with you in order to rock the Health Insurance selection!
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The best time to ask this information is when you accept the job. Already accepted? That's OK! Contact the person who offered you the job to ask who you will meet and what paperwork to bring for your first day.
Everyone wants to like the people they work with. Even if you walk into the worst work environment, you can make it a better place by being friendly! Here are a couple of my favorite ways to be approachable.
Ok before you close this browser window, hear me out! Smiling is the universal sign of happiness and friendliness. Make a point to smile often during the day, especially when meeting new people.
Sometimes it's easy to forget to smile when we get nervous. Take a few times during the day to force a smile– like literally big cheesy grin in the mirror. You'll probably feel so goofy that you'll laugh at yourself and the big fake smile will turn into a real one.
Here are a couple of great times to get in a good toothy grin and remind yourself to smile:
• in your car before you walk into the lobby
• In the bathroom (if there are others there, smile before you leave the stall)
• When you're the only one getting coffee in the break room
Hand out compliments
People tend to blatantly display the things they are interested in and are most proud of. Use these things to kick off a conversation. Always be genuine, and honest in your compliments. Faking it here will eventually come back to bite you.
Is there one lady who seems to have a sense for fashion? Tell her you love her blouse. Is there someone who prominently displays photos of his kids on his desk? Tell him how precious they are and ask their names.
It seems obvious, but pay attention to the reply. The first several weeks of work are a whirlwind, so it's OK if you forget a few things. However, if you can pay attention to some details of your conversations and refer back to them later, it will show your genuine desire to get to know your coworkers.
The lunch conundrum
Great managers make sure that you won't be going to lunch alone on your first day. But just in case you're not so lucky, be the one to take the lead!
As it gets close to lunch time, if no one makes a lunch offer, try to strike up a conversation. I like to ask “where is the best place to grab lunch nearby?” It lets them off the hook for not asking you to lunch, and if they still don't ask them to lunch, when they suggest a restaurant, you can ask if anyone wants to go with you.
Be a Great Trainee!
In any new job, you will likely have tons of new information thrown at you in the first several weeks. You'll have training from HR and specific to your role, at the very least, and often times you may have multiple other trainings. Do not, under any circumstances, be bad at being trained!
It's really not that hard to be a great trainee. There are just 3 things that you need to do well and you will be the dream new hire!
Understand the “Why”
One of the keys to being a great employee, really being great at anything, is knowing why you are doing it! In business this is really just a matter of asking 2 questions to understand where you are in the process.
First, “Where is this coming from?” As in who is giving me this task, and what did they do before they passed it to me. For example, say you have to prepare a sales report. You have to get sales data to run the report. You will need to understand where that data comes from and how it gets there so that you know who to go to if something breaks.
Second, “Where is it going to?” As in who am I passing this task to next, and what will they do with it. Continuing with the sales report example: Say you've prepared the sales report, but it doesn't do much good if the information doesn't get into the right hands. Understanding who it goes to next and what they do will make sure that your providing the right things to the right people.
This is something that seems so simple, but new employees forget all the time. Don't work just inside your little process. Try to understand how you fit into the big picture.
Take Very Detailed Notes
Sometimes the tasks we are required to do are tedious. They may be a long process or something that we do infrequently! But notes will save us, and on a computer, a great way to remember steps is with screenshots!
You're human, you will forget. I found that in my first job I had to prepare many reports on a monthly basis. After 4 weeks, I had almost no recollection of the training for the report I was supposed to be doing. It would have been OK to ask for clarification on my notes if I forgot a step, but to ask to be retrained on something that you've already been trained on is very unprofessional.
When you are hired, often times it has been several weeks since the last person to do that job has moved on to another job. That means someone has been filling in for them until you were hired. You can imagine that they are ready to get the extra work off their plate! Ask your manager for a complete list of tasks that you should be trained for and who will do the training. Then set up time with each person as they have availability. Don't let the training time drag on where possible.
Many times training classes for new hires have deadlines. For example, if you need to take an Ethics training, you may have to complete it in the first 30 days. And if that's the case, your manager will probably be getting regular emails that you need to complete your training. I know they are boring and you're ready to dive in to your new job and make a great impression, but get these things knocked out as quickly as possible because if your manager has to bother you to complete the training, they won't be happy.
How to rock the first day at a new job?
Entering a new job can be nerve wracking, and scary. But you got there because you earned it! So, smile, be confident, and be a killer employee from day 1 (starting with nailing the training)!
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