Succeeding on the First Day

You survived the interviews, you got the job offer.  Now you’re getting ready for your first day.  Changing jobs is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life.  But if you’re prepared ahead of time, that first day, and subsequently first week, can be easy and smooth.
  1. Get a good night’s sleep.
  2. Eat breakfast.  Even if you normally don’t do breakfast (and yes you should always eat this meal), make sure you leave some time at home to eat something.  Between orientation and meeting your department, you don’t know when lunch will be.  If you can’t make it until 1:00pm without your stomach making noises in a meeting, then eat something filling.
  3. Plan accordingly – know where you’ll be going and how long it takes to get there the night before.  Allow for additional time in case of traffic, mass transit issues, etc.
  4. Dress for success: If you’re unsure of the dress code and are able to ask the hiring manager or someone in HR before your start day – do! If not, it is best to err on the side of too dressy.  You were probably able to pick up on this in your interview, but it is always best to dress a step up just in case.  Remember business casual takes on a different meaning from one office to another.
  5. Arrive early.  If you’re told to be there at 9:00am, aim to arrive 5 minutes early – just like you did for the interview!
  6. Ask questions.  If don’t understand something or feel you’ve missed valuable information, speak up!  A lot will be thrown out you the first several days – start the precedent now of asking questions to ensure understanding, and show your colleagues you’re paying attention and want a better understanding.  And no one will be offended if your question is “Can you tell me your name again?”
  7. Speak with caution.  I don't mean don't speak.  There are things you discuss at work and things you don't.  There are things that become okay to talk about with certain co-workers after you've been there.  This should go without saying, but I'm saying it: stay away from politics, religion, money, anything negative about the office or any of the other employees, or anything about your personal life that wouldn't normally tell a stranger.
As it’s Friday, I’d like to add a note about casual Fridays: Just like business casual, casual Fridays means something different from one office to another.  Before you get to Friday, ask someone in your department, preferably around your age to get an idea of what to wear.  I’ve worked in offices where it casual Friday meant sweat suits and slippers, and another where it meant chinos and nice shirts.  Find out if you can wear jeans before rolling in Friday morning in ripped jeans and sneakers.  On second thought – don’t do that – at least not in your first few weeks. What are your first day success tip or horror stories?  Share them below!   *Photo via Creative Commons license by Flickr User Victor1558

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