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Prepping for Success: How to Make a Great Impression on Your First Day of Work

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

You accepted a job offer, signed a new contract and now you're in the exciting phase of counting down the days until your first day of work.


Mixed with bubbling excitement, a twinge of nervousness is starting to set in. Questions like, "What should I expect?" and "What will my new colleagues think of me?" are popping up, and you're wondering how to make a great impression on your very first day and set a positive tone for the rest of your time at the company. Well, first, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that having all these thoughts racing through your mind is perfectly normal. Second, as HR professionals, Matilda and I have been through it multiple times and on both sides, as new joiners and as organizers. And we're here to guide you through the process, ensuring that you start off on the right foot.


From the day before your onboarding to your first day and throughout the entire first week of your new job, we've got you covered with a comprehensive list of exactly what you should do.


By following these guidelines, you'll be well on your way to making a lasting impression and kicking off your new job in style.


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What Happens on the First Day of Work


Your first day at work sets the tone for your overall experience at the company, so it's important to make a good impression and make the most of it.


The good news? In most companies, this day will be structured and organized for you.

So here's what you can expect on your first day:


Orientation

Workspace with laptop and a notebook with written notes.

Photo by Ken Tomita


Most companies will have an orientation program for new employees, where you'll learn about the company's policies, procedures, and culture. This is a great opportunity to ask questions and get to know your coworkers.


Meeting your team


You'll likely meet your team and supervisor on your first day. They'll give you a tour of the office and introduce you to everyone. Be prepared to answer questions about yourself and your background.


Getting your workspace set up


You'll be shown to your workspace and given any necessary equipment, like a computer, headset, and access to the software. Make sure to set up your workspace in an organized and efficient manner.


If you receive instructions on setting up the workspace and technology on your own, do it as soon as possible to ensure you have everything you need to get up and running.


Training


Depending on your job, you may receive training on software or procedures. Take notes and ask questions to ensure you understand everything.


Establishing expectations


Your supervisor will likely meet with you to review your job responsibilities and expectations.


This is your chance to learn more about your new job, get to know your supervisor better, and make a strong impression. The easiest and best way to do it? Ask questions.


Use this opportunity to ask about their specific expectations for your first 30, 60, and 90 days. Ask about any goals you're expected to achieve in your new job or measures of success that will be used to assess your progress and performance.


This will not only help you perform better and meet expectations but also help you come across as a driven and valuable addition to the team.


Remember, your first day is just the beginning.


In most companies, HR and your leader will organize the first day to help you get on board as smoothly as possible. On your end, the best thing you can do is to be open to learning and adapting to your new environment. With a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, you'll set yourself up for success in your new job.



The Day Before: How to Prepare for Success


Ahead of your first day at work, a little preparation goes a long way.


You can do a few simple yet effective things to ensure you feel confident and ready to hit the ground running.


Research the company

Woman in white shirt sitting in front of laptop working.

Photo by Gerzon Piñata


Before your first day, it's important to research the company you'll be working for.


You can start by looking at the company's website, social media channels, and news articles. You can also reach out to people in your network who are familiar with the company and ask for their insights.


Since you've passed all interviews successfully, the chances are you've already done it.


But now is a chance to dig even deeper. This will help you understand the company culture, values, and mission. It will also give you a sense of what the company expects from its employees.


By doing your research, you'll be able to ask informed questions and demonstrate your interest in the company during your first day.



Prepare your outfit

Woman choosing outfit in a clothing store.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION


Preparing for your first day goes beyond just mental preparation.


By taking the time to groom yourself and carefully select your outfit, you'll not only look professional but also feel more confident and ready to tackle whatever comes your way. (I mean, we all tend to perform better when we feel good in our own skin, don't we?)


Remember—what you wear on your first day can set the tone for how you're perceived by your coworkers and boss.


So, put some thought into your appearance.


Choose an outfit that reflects your personal style while still aligning with the company culture. If you're unsure what to wear, it's better to err on the side of dressing up rather than dressing down. Take care of the little details that make you feel polished and put-together, like your hairstyle and shoes.


By doing so, you'll exude confidence and make a positive impression right from the start.


Preparing for your first day can help you feel more confident and make a great first impression. Researching the company and preparing your outfit may seem like minor actions, but they make a huge difference and they'll help you set yourself up for success.


On Your First Day: How to Make a Great Impression


The big day has arrived! Follow these tips to ensure you start your new job on the right foot.


Arrive early

A busy train station with shops in Europe.

Photo by Alex Fu


Arriving early sets the tone for your work ethic and shows your eagerness to start your new job. So, plan your commute ahead of time and factor in extra time for unexpected delays.


Being on time shows that you are reliable and respect your new employer's time.


Prepare necessary documents


Bring all necessary documents with you on your first day, such as your ID, Social Security card, and any other paperwork your employer may have requested.


This will show that you are organized and take your new job seriously. Additionally, review any onboarding materials your employer may have provided before your first day.


Meet your new colleagues

Two people giving a firm handshake at work.

Take initiative and introduce yourself to your new colleagues. This will show that you are friendly and personable and help you build relationships with your new coworkers.

Pay attention to names and job titles, and ask questions to show interest in learning more about your new workplace.


Introduce yourself with confidence


When introducing yourself, be confident and concise. Give a brief overview of your background and experience, and explain what you are excited to bring to the team.


Remember that your first impression matters, so smile, be friendly and engaging.


By following these tips, you can confidently start your new job and set yourself up for success.



During Your First Week: How to Maintain a Good Impression


It's not only the first day that matters. Maintaining a positive impression throughout the initial days is equally important.


Here are some tips to help you navigate your first week as you settle into a new role:


Get to know your colleagues


Relationships are an important part of any workplace. Take the time to introduce yourself to your colleagues and get to know them. This will help you feel more comfortable in your new environment and establish a sense of belonging.


Colleagues having lunch break in front of Palace of Culture.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION


Consider asking your colleagues to grab coffee or join them during lunch. This will give you an opportunity to chat and learn more about each other.


Observe office culture


Every office has its own unique culture. Pay attention to the way things are done in your new workplace. This includes everything from how people dress to how they communicate.

Understanding the culture will help you fit in and avoid any missteps in your first days at a new job.

Take notes of any unwritten rules or traditions that might exist. For example, is it customary to bring sweets on Fridays or dress up for meetings? These may seem like small details, but they can make a big difference in how you are perceived by your colleagues.


Take notes


During your first week, you will likely be given a lot of information. It's important to take notes to help you remember everything. This includes everything from how to use the company's software to the names of your colleagues.


Woman taking notes on a notebook with white pages.

Consider carrying a small notebook with you or using a note-taking app on your phone. This will allow you to jot down important information as it comes up.


Ask questions


Don't be afraid to ask questions during your first week.


Your colleagues and supervisor understand that you are new and will likely have questions. Asking questions shows that you are engaged and eager to learn.


If your supervisor hasn't scheduled a meeting with you at the end of your first week, be proactive about it and ask them if you can set up a meeting to discuss any open points or questions you may have. This will give you an opportunity to get feedback and establish expectations.


Don't put too much pressure on yourself


While making a good impression in your first week is crucial, don't put too much pressure on yourself, thinking that you must grasp everything within a few days.


Sure, the first days are important, but you'll have plenty of time to get to know your colleagues, showcase your skills, and grow within your role.


Use this initial week as a foundation to build strong relationships, familiarize yourself with the company culture, and demonstrate your enthusiasm and dedication.


Take the time to get to know your colleagues, observe the office culture, take notes, and ask questions. That's the most you can do, and it's more than enough. Doing so will help you make a great impression and set you up for long-term success.



After Your First Week: How to Continue Making a Good Impression


After your first week at work, keep up the momentum and continue to show your colleagues what you're capable of. Here are some tips on how to do just that:


Show initiative


One way to continue making a good impression is to show initiative. If you see something that needs to be done, don't wait for someone else to do it – take the initiative and ask if you can handle it or get involved. This shows that you're proactive and willing to take on tasks without being asked. It's important to strike a balance, though – don't take on too much and become overwhelmed.


Follow up on tasks


Another way to make a lasting impression is to follow up on tasks that you've been assigned. If you've completed a task, let your colleague know. If there are any outstanding issues, follow up to see how you can help resolve them. This shows that you're diligent, responsible, and take your work seriously.


Ask for feedback


Finally, regularly ask for feedback from your colleagues and supervisor. This shows that you're interested in improving and that you value their opinion. Be open to constructive criticism and take it as an opportunity to learn and grow.


By taking these steps, you can continue to make a good impression and show your colleagues that you care about being a valuable addition to the team.


Two women in an office having a meeting.

Key Takeaways


Stepping into a new workplace can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. However, with the right preparation and mindset, you can make a lasting impression on your first day at work.


Here's how:

  • Research the company before your first day, dress professionally, and arrive early to demonstrate your dedication and commitment.

  • Engage with your coworkers and be an active listener.

  • Stay organized and attentive during orientation, taking notes and asking relevant questions.

  • Embrace the company culture and align yourself with the values and goals of the organization.

Remember, a positive attitude goes a long way in establishing yourself as a valuable team member. By following these tips, you'll not only leave a memorable first impression but also lay the foundation for long-term success in your new role.



What's Next?


Two female HR professionals and career coaches. Cutout headshots in a circular frame on purple background.

Matilda Patsou & Ana Colak-Fustin


Matilda and Ana, the founders of MoreThanCareers, are expats, international corporate recruiters, and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools, and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying, career-changing jobs.


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