8 Ways to Ace Your First Day at a New Job

With so many opportunities for new learning and understanding in your field, getting a new job is exciting! You want to meet everyone and get working immediately. But with training and introductions, the first day can easily become overwhelming. You’re not alone! Keep these tips in mind when starting a new job and stop first day jitters in their tracks.

Take a Breather

When leaving one position for another, people often schedule their upcoming start date with little to no break in between. If you can, take some time off before starting a new position. Spend a few extra days reflecting on the things you did well at your previous job and what you want to improve.

  • How would you like others to see you at your new company?
  • What kind of coworker do you want to be?

  • You can even make some new goals to set a clear understanding of what you hope to change about your workflow in this new position. While you’re at it, engage in your favorite relaxation methods (meditation, exercise, watching movies, etc.) to recharge. You want to start your new job with a motivated mindset. Don’t forget to sleep well for some extra rest! If you can’t take any extra time off, that’s alright. Focus on what you can do. Sleep more, drink enough water, and relax when you can. If you want to review your previous position but have no time to sit down and write out your thoughts, use a voice recording app on your phone, laptop or tablet to record your answers. Apps like Otter.ai and Google Docs can even transcribe voice to text.

    Positive Self-Talk

    First days are exciting and frustrating, especially when you’re learning a new skill or different process than you’re used to. Be kind to yourself — learning takes time. Just because you aren’t good at something new right away, doesn’t mean you’ll never be. Reframe your thoughts from “I’m terrible at XYZ” to “What a great opportunity to expand my learning on XYZ.” Staying positive will help ease unnecessary stress and performance anxiety while you're in training. It will also make you more productive once your workdays normalize.

    Focus on Your New Environment

    It's not uncommon to go into the first day feeling nervous about your performance. You wonder, “Am I going to catch on quick enough? Will I remember everything?” Don't worry, first days are typically spent meeting new coworkers, learning about the company, and finding your way around. It's unlikely that you'll jump right into projects on your first day. So, instead of stressing, bring your note-taking instrument of choice (notebook and pen or iPad/tablet if the company allows it) and get ready to learn!

    Listen and Learn

    One of the best parts of starting a new job is the opportunity to try something new. Every company has a different way of doing things, which gives you a chance to learn a new process that may be more efficient. Whether you’ve worked in the same position at a different organization, or a different position at the same organization, pretend you are brand new. Don’t miss out on details you could learn from your trainers by assuming you already know everything.

    Be receptive to advice throughout training and absorb as much as you can to set yourself up for success down the road. Take notes! Listen more than you speak and ask clarifying questions so you can effectively retain and apply the information.

    Make Time for Meet and Greets

    Working at a new company takes some getting used to. You have to remember your coworkers' names and roles, the layout of the building (or virtual collaboration tools if you’re remote), new systems, etc. Get a head start on remembering your coworkers by asking HR for an employee directory. This will give you some context for meeting people. You can even add small hints on the chart to help you remember who you've already met.

    For example, if someone has a distinctive Slack avatar or a cool object in their workspace, write that down. Make sure it’s something that will remind you who this person is and begin to solidify them in your memory. Building relationships with people is crucial, even on day one. The ability to do your job well could depend on how you interact with them and whether you’re on the same team. Companies are made up of small parts that work together to become a whole, so if you’re struggling to communicate effectively with one crucial piece, it could hinder you down the line. Meeting new people can be overwhelming, so use your newness to make easy introductions. Introduce yourself first or even ask for nearby food recommendations if you’re shy.

    Gather Your Bearings

    Finding your way around isn’t just knowing where the kitchen is or what MS Teams channel to use, it means figuring out who your information resources are. Learn who handles 401K issues, health insurance questions, payroll, PTO, etc. Who is the person to go to with tech problems? Who orders supplies for the team? Write their information in a notebook so you have quick access in case you have computer problems. Be sure to ask your manager or trainer who your "go-to" person would be. This is the person who can answer any questions you have or direct you to the people who know the answers. Your go-to person can act as an informal mentor while you’re finding stability in your new position.

    Define Success

    The easiest way to succeed in a new job is to know what success truly means for your role. Meet with your manager and define what that looks like. How will you be measured? What are the tasks you’ll be responsible for? What does communication look like with your manager and with your team? You want to come away from your first few days knowing exactly what is expected of you in the future.

    If Your First Day is Remote

    Though most first day things are the same when you onboard and train remotely, there are some hurdles to navigate. First, test your software and computer before your first day if the company has issued you equipment ahead of time. Make sure you understand how to use it and it works correctly. On the actual first day, log in a little early in case you need to troubleshoot anything. Ask for the tech support contact before your start date in case there are issues. If your position is remote, video chatting can be taxing. Take precautions from day one to minimize Zoom fatigue. Remember, first days are an adjustment, but with a little preparation and an open mind, you’ll be set up for success.

    Now that you’ve settled into your new job, start cultivating joy at work! Here are seven tips to get you started.