Congratulations, you got the job! Now it’s time for you to actually start working.
A first day at a new job can feel like drinking from a fire hose, new names, tons of products, systems, policies, etc. Depending on your company, you might spend your first day in a great onboarding experience, or you might be stuck in a room with an HR manual, or you might just be thrown into work.
Regardless of how your organization handles your first day experience you can start strong by creating a plan for success on your own. Whether it’s your first job, or you’re taking on a senior role, (or you want to pass this along to a someone who needs it) here are five things to help you rock your first day of work:
1. Know the names and faces. This is where LinkedIn will be your friend. The sea of people on your first day is super overwhelming. Looking up people who work at the company you’re now working for will give you a jumpstart.
2. Learn the company story. You likely already did research during the interview process. Take it even further now. Make sure you’ve read the annual report and CEO message, learn their products, and know who their customers are. Whatever your role, you should understand how money flows thru the business, and where the critical success points are.
If they have a retail or online operation, experience the company as a customer. Order something, eat or shop there. You want to know, what’s it like to do business with this firm?
3. Map out the logistics. Make sure you know where to park and what to wear. Elizabeth, my older daughter and business partner, reminds me of her faux pas in her first restaurant job. She says, “I was 17, and very excited. I showed up, parked in front, and walked in. And it wasn’t until halfway through the day, I realized all the other employees parked out back.” Most managers will give you the lowdown, if they don’t, ask.
When I started my first job, my father wisely told me to drive the route the week before in peak traffic, so I’d know what to expect. Pre Google maps, this advice was extremely helpful. Even today, driving your commute during rush hour a time or two, and navigating the parking will give you more confidence on your first day. Your brain won’t be preoccupied processing details about which turn to take.
4. Ask the smart questions. Before asking a million questions, give your manager, or whoever is training you, the opportunity to speak first. A lot of companies have amazing onboarding programs, and you might be surprised how many of your burning questions they end up answering really quickly.
That said, if you don’t understand something, ask. People are a lot more forgiving in your first few days than they are three months down the road if they realize you’ve been doing it wrong the whole time.
5. Be coachable. You don’t have to prove you know everything on the first day. A lot of people make the mistake of trying to impress others quickly by demonstrating their knowledge. Instead, the early days are more about listening and learning. Pay attention, take direction, and be thankful to whoever is taking the time to train you. You can assimilate the information into stellar performance quickly if you’re coachable.
You only get one chance at a first impression. Do your homework, and show up ready to rock it.