The first day at any new job can be nerve wracking whether it’s your first role since graduating, a step up in your career or a move into semi-retirement. From knowing how to dress or what to take for lunch while trying to fit in and make a good impression.
The key is to be as prepared as possible before you start your new job, open minded and committed on the day and be honest with yourself when you get home.
Here are our top tips for starting a new role.
Before you start
Try and cast your mind back to your interview or speak to the recruitment agency or HR department to get an understanding of the culture, dress code and facilities.
Know what to wear – If you’re the only one to turn up in a suit, will you look overdressed? Or are jeans and a t-shirt not what the company meant when they stipulated ‘smart casual’? It’s always best to err on the side of caution if it’s not obvious and you don’t have a uniform.
Plan your lunch – Make sure you take something for lunch that doesn’t require a microwave or any other kitchen facilities. It’s highly unlikely your new employer won’t have these kinds of things, but unless you have been specifically told otherwise, you don’t want to be left hungry. Even if you’re in the town centre or have food outlets on site, you never know if you’ll be required to have a working lunch on your first day. Whatever you take, be prepared to throw it away, as your boss or new colleagues may invite you out with them.
Plan your route – Being late is never acceptable, but especially on your first day. Leave earlier than you should and if you get a chance before, do the exact same route on a weekday at the same time.
Pack a bag – Ensure you have everything you need to start the job. This may be a new pad and pen, but more importantly, you might need to take your passport, P45, driving licence and national insurance details, for example. You may also be given HR policies and your contract on the day, so don’t turn up with a clutch bag or just the clothes on your back in case you need somewhere safe to store the paperwork.
On the day
The good news is that your employer should be as keen to settle you into your new role as you are to settle in yourself, so try and take some comfort in that and be excited rather than apprehensive. A few things to expect, however:
A late start – You may be asked to arrive a little later on your first day to give everyone else a chance to get in, brew the coffee and set everything up for your first day.
A chaperone – Be it a colleague, the HR manager or your line manager, you are likely to have someone dedicated to showing you around, introducing you to colleagues and make you coffee!
An induction and onboarding– The length of these vary from business to business, and in some businesses, there is no formal process. However, be prepared to be put in a meeting room for a couple of hours while you’re taken through company policies, procedures and systems. This may involve some training too.
First impressions will count on your first day and throughout your probationary period, so treat this time as an extended job interview, but don’t let it consume you. They offered you the job, after all. Now you just need to show them why you were the right choice.
Some other tips that might come in handy on the day:
Listen and make notes – There will be a lot to take in during the first few days and weeks of your new role. Be prepared to listen and ask questions when you are unsure. If you think you’ll find it helpful, make some notes too. Take a look at your notes when you get home and maybe start drafting a list of ideas and things you want to achieve in the first month.
Get to know your team – You may not be naturally confident or extrovert, but make an effort to get to know the people you will be working closely with and try and remember names! Also have your elevator pitch ready – a quick 30-second introduction to who you are and what you were doing before.
Turn your phone off – It’s not unusual for us to have our phones on our desks these days, especially as the line between personal and business use blurs even more. On the first day, however, turn it off. You don’t want distractions from friends and family members wishing you luck.
Have an open mind – First impressions count for a lot, but you should give everyone and everything a chance. You have no idea what might have made your desk neighbour unapproachable that day or the atmosphere seem tense. Keep an open mind and positive attitude.
Social events– The company may have company lunches, after work drinks etc, which present great opportunities to get to know colleagues and feel more part of the team.
On your way home
What do you do if you leave after the first day with the sinking feeling that you made the wrong decision?
Firstly, don’t panic! Starting a new role can be daunting and it can take time to settle in. You may have been in your previous role for some time and change is difficult. Whatever your concerns, don’t make any hasty decisions and not return with no explanation. Ask for a meeting with your supervisor or manager to discuss your concerns, and once they have had a chance to respond to any issues, you can make a more informed decision.
Usually your employer will catch up with you at the end of the first week to see how the new role is going and make sure you are settling in, so be honest. If you continue to feel as if you made the wrong decision, have a frank conversation with your manager and/or the recruitment agency, as they are experienced in having these difficult conversations.
Different companies will have different ways of onboarding new employees – some will break you in slowly while some will throw you in at the deep end, so the first day isn’t a great time to make big decisions. Remember, you are likely to have a probation period, which is designed to give you and the client time to find your feet together. During this time you should receive training and support to help you get up to speed and fully immersed in the role. If you feel you aren’t getting the support you need or want an update on your progress, speak with your line manager so there are no big surprises for anyone at the end of the probationary period.
Charmaine @ Bond Williams was very pleasant, helpful and totally professional throughout my dealings with her in my search for a new role. She gave me the confidence to go for a role which I was unsure if my skills would be enough. Thanks to her I ended up getting both phone and face-to-face interviews and being offered the role. Thanks again
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