The first day of work makes us all nervous.
Are we going to do as well as we hope?
Are we going to like the people that we work with?
What happens if we don’t even like the job?
More than anything, though, we focus on what others are going to think of us when we arrive.
It seems that most people’s main concern on the first day of a new job is to make sure that they are well liked, and that they make a “good” impression on their new coworkers. The problem is that many times, we equate making a good impression with total assimilation.
But unless you plan to walk in with several weeks of experience at your new place of employment, you’re going to be very disappointed in yourself. The reality is, you’re not going to be assimilated on day 1, and there aren’t enough blog posts in the world to cure that for you.
Instead, you should rethink what making a good impression on your first day really is: is it about not making a lot of mistakes? Is it about saying the right thing or wearing the perfect outfit?
More than anything, making a good impression is proving to your new coworkers that down the road, you’re going to be someone that they can depend on. That will motivate them to help you learn faster, and help them to support you as you grow and adjust to your new position. On day one, here are some things you can focus on doing to assure your coworkers that you’ll be right for this job when your training is complete.
Don’t try to rush into anything. Something you’ll hear a lot of college professors say is that young learners should do their best to keep their mouths shut. We get excited about what we’re learning, and want to yield that knowledge right away—but there are still a lot of missing parts to the job you don’t know about yet.
Step one is having the humility to re-learn things, take it slow, and not have to prove to someone that you’ve got the right knowledge. You already have the job, there’s nothing to prove on the first day.
Get Your Hands Dirty
That said, don’t be afraid to try something out even if you don’t know exactly how to do it. If there’s a menial task to be done, let them know you’re ready to take it on, and if there’s an opportunity for you to try something new, ask if you can jump in.
On day one, you want to get as broad of a scope of the job as possible. That doesn’t mean that you have to know everything, but at least you can get an idea of some of the tasks down the road that you’ll be performing.
Don’t Be Shy
Introduce yourself. If you come in and don’t talk to a single coworker, they might not get as good of a chance to know you. They may be busy, or not even realize that today is your first day. Introductions are a great way to network within your new job, and create relationships that will provide a safety net when you inevitably have questions down the road.
Don’t just slink into the background: let them know you’re the new person, embrace your role, and be ready to help anyone who needs it wherever you can.
This may sound counterintuitive, but do your best to blend in with your coworkers—meaning, show them that you’re one of them. Sometimes when you try to hard to make the right impression on your first day, it can seem that you’re trying to step over other people on your way to the top, or that you’re just there to get what’s yours. This creates a false sense of competition, and can limit the camaraderie that you experience with your new coworkers.
Instead, show that you’re a part of the team, and you’ll blend right in.
Just like going slow requires humility to not try and prove your worth, asking questions can be hard. You don’t want to bother anybody with your “dumb” questions, but the reality is that’s the only way you’re going to get better. Don’t be afraid to let people know that you don’t know.
Think critically about something: if you try and discern a possible solution, ask if it’s right. Don’t just ask the first question that pops into your head, but think about something critically, and in the end you’ll find that your coworkers are happier you asked about it, instead of simply doing it wrong for the duration of your time on the job.
You’re going to make mistakes, but that’s the only evidence that you can have of trying. If you’re always too afraid of failing to jump in and get the job done, you’re going to feel more like a burden than a help to your coworkers.
Failure equals experience, and a fresh opportunity to learn. Be eager to learn, OK with failing, and in the end you’ll be the best worker you can be, because you always were willing to try.
Good luck, and have a great first day!