Congratulations – you got the job! But how can you make your first day, week and month a success?
Clean-up your online presence. You will meet lots of new people and they will likely search for you on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn).
Keep a diary/planner to stay organised when arranging your week.
Keep up to date with current news and changes impacting the organisation/sector.
Pre-plan what you will wear.
Trial your commute route to work, plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early on the day.
Pre-pack your bag - bring a notebook and pen, water bottle, snacks and any other essentials.
Get a good night's sleep and eat a nutritious breakfast so you can concentrate throughout the day.
Know exactly who you should be meeting, where and at what time, and be sure to have any required documentation needed for verification. Don't wander off after you check-in.
Check-in with yourself - your mental and physical health are important for overall wellbeing and success in your new role.
Your first day is about making a good impression with new people, but don’t put pressure on yourself to get everything right (no one does!).
It is also likely to include many introductions to different people, teams and building locations. There will be meetings with your new team and you will start on a series of briefings about the company, HR, internal systems and protocols, and health and safety.
Be prompt, polite, engaged in what is going on and smile.
Take notes and ask questions if anything is unclear.
Try to socialise and eat lunch with your new colleagues. Be friendly and try to remember their names (it will be hard for them too, so don’t worry if it doesn’t all happen at once).
Sort out the information you have been given - account details, key resources, vital information around scheduling. Review your notes and organise your thoughts.
Plan for the following day, the same way you prepared for the first day.
Your first week is about settling in. Try to:
Have an introduction ‘script’ you can use to introduce yourself over and over again (who you are, what role and team you’re in)
Keep taking lots of notes, note links between different things, and review them daily to organise your thoughts
Pay attention to your surroundings and spaces. Try to get a feel for the people who others pay attention to, and who lead or contribute in meetings.
Do your best to learn and remember names. An effective way of doing this is to use people’s names as often as possible, e.g. when replying to a question or introduction. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying to remember everyone’s names – If you forget someone’s name, honesty is the best policy: “I’m sorry, I’ve been taking in a lot of new information over the last few days. Could you remind me of your name?”
Ask well-timed questions – write down your questions as they occur, then ask the right person the right question (e.g. don’t ask another new starter a question HR should answer)
Learn where the bathrooms, coffee and water, stairs and elevators are. Hunt out where you can eat lunch or take a break, and any other common spaces you can use. Learn where the quietest meeting rooms are. If you need another tour of the building to work this out, ask a colleague if they could take you on one.
Get to know your team better. Be around them and observe how everyone works and collaborates. This will offer valuable insight about the organisation and its culture.
Make friends – ask a colleague to join you at lunch or go for a coffee. Developing trusted relationships will help you to get to know the workplace and feel more comfortable as you navigate new thing.
Be a sponge – learn from everyone around you, and find out about how you can join in wider organisational activities, e.g. professional development, lunchtime classes, sports teams, volunteering, etc.
Set good habits and routines that help you to focus on the things that your team are trying to achieve, e.g. the time you are expected to arrive at or leave work, which emails need to be looked at first, how quickly you need to complete certain tasks.
Define success with your manager – clarify how you will work with your manager, how you will be supported to do the job well, and how your performance will be assessed. Come prepared to these conversations, either with questions or areas you’d like their guidance on.
Challenge yourself by taking on responsibility for a task or activity. It doesn’t need to be a big one, but it shows you are willing and capable.
Thank everyone who has helped you so far.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY NC 4.0), which permits use, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, provided the original work is cited and it is for non-commercial purposes. Please contact us for other uses.
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2021) Making your first day, week and month in a new job a success. Available at www.rgs.org/careersresources/firstday. Last accessed on: <date>.
Image: @dsmacinnes / Unsplash
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