8 Things to Do on Your First Day at Work

  | 6 min read
first day at work

Starting a new job can be a nerve wracking experience. Although you are excited about your new adventure, you are also entering into an unknown territory. You want to give your best and show that you are an asset, but you are also scared of not making a first good impression. For some, the first day at work is like a follow up interview. Although, it gets easier with experience and maturity, first day at work never ceases to be challenging.

Here are eight things you need to do on your first day at your new work to begin your new adventure on the right foot.

1. Arrive Early but not Too Early

first day at work arrive early but not too early

Imagine the impression you will give if you arrive late to work in your day of starting a new job. There are tricks to avoiding this. If you have your interviews and got hired without having gone to the office, for example through Skype, before the first day take sometime to familiarize yourself with the location of the office and the transport options. What are the best bus routes? What is the best route with less traffic if you are driving? If need be, go to the office a day before, even if you don’t enter inside, to make sure you have locked the right address. 

“Go to the office a day before so you don’t get lost on your first day and up arriving late and covered in sweat,” advises Mustapha Mosha, Community Marketing Manager of BrighterMonday Tanzania.

In case you don’t have a car, it is best to go with a taxi or another form of transport that will guarantee that you will arrive on time.

2. Have an Introduction Ready

Remember this is the day when you will have to shake a lot of hands, nod with excitement many times and introduce yourself repeatedly. The bigger the organization the more introductions you will have to make. Don’t wing it. Have something prepared. You don’t have to stick to the script but you can use it as guidance when you have to say something more than your name and your title. “I am excited to be here because this is something I have always wanted to do. I am interested to learn more about digital marketing.” Don’t overdo it or say something absurd. “Hey I am John, if I had to be an animal I would be a crocodile.” As you keep on meeting new faces and introducing yourself, it will get easier and less tense.

“On my first day at work of my first job, I had written down some notes in my phone that helped me to introduce myself,” said Erick Lukumai, CSR and Content Moderator at Zoom Tanzania.

3. Ask and Listen Instead of Offering Your Opinion

Ask and Listen Instead of Offering Your Opinion first day at work

Don’t be a chatterbox. Listen. Observe. Ask questions and learn about your new organization. This is the time to absorb as much information as possible. Instead of putting yourself at the center of discussion, pivot and ask questions. For example, instead of spending much time talking about your past marketing activities and how you helped your previous organization launch a new line of products, ask what marketing activities have been done, or what has been the approach of the marketing team in bringing visibility. Switch your questions depending on who you are talking to. Speaking to and IT person, you might not want to ask something at the intersection of technology and marketing, and while speaking to the Finance team you might want to know how Finance has worked with Marketing in the past.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk about your experience. The right balance will be more questions and less talking about you. You can learn to talk about yourself intelligently. For example, after a colleague talks about what marketing challenges, you can add and say, “that’s cool, we used to do the same thing in my previous company and we had faced a challenge of how to measure the impact.”

4. Understand the Organization Feel, Social Structure & Interests

In any organization there is a culture. Try to get a sense of the culture of your new organization. Are people very serious or relaxed? Is it quiet or is there a free flow of conversation and laughter? Is the team young or mixed? All these will help you identify how to fit with the team.

Again, there is the issue of social structure, or social landscape. There is a lot of dynamics that you need to decipher during your first day at work. Can you spot the cliques? Who is friends with who? Who is the influencer? What are the power dynamics? These and other similar questions will help you associate with the right people. It is advised that in your first day, you should be able to identify personalities that might jell well with yours.

It is not just the social structure that matters. Pay attention to the interests of your new colleagues. If you are into boxing and you identify another boxing enthusiast then use that as an opportunity for possible professional friendship.                                                       

5. Be Yourself & Don’t Try Too Hard

Be Yourself & Dont Try Too Hard first day at work

Relax and don’t try too hard to impress anyone on your first day at work. Remember your future colleagues will know when you are trying too hard? Also remember that, projecting a personality that is not yours will give you serious challenges when you switch back to who you really are and some colleagues might feel cheated. It is okay to be introverted. It is okay to be who you are.

6. Don’t be Shy but Don’t be Cocky

Don’t be shy. This can be difficult for some people with a shy trait. For introverts, because it can appear as if they are shy, they will need to find a balance between introvertedness and confidence. However, this doesn’t mean you should come off as cocky. Trying too hard to impress might make one come out as cocky. Steer away from conversations related to your wealth, the countries of the world you have traveled to or any other topic that can make you appear pompous.

7. Unwritten Rules

Unwritten Rules first day at wrk

Every organization has unwritten rules. Who washes the dishes? Is music played in the office? Can someone eat their lunch at their desk? Observe what is happening around to understand what is practiced but is not in the Employee Manual Handbook. This is because every organization because of the complex nature of its team, naturally organizes itself by establishing unwritten rules over time.

8. Never say no to lunch

This is debatable. There are those that say don’t bring lunch to work on your first day. This group believes that your team will ask you to go with them and you shouldn’t say no. Use this opportunity, which tends to be more relaxed since it might be outside the office, to learn more about your colleagues.

However, there are those that say bring your lunch because you might go hungry since you don’t know the lunch plans of your new colleagues. If you bring lunch and you are invited you

Stephen Swai
Stephen Swai is a Marketing Manager with a passion for using words to inspire, educate and transform.