It's your first day, and you're so thrilled to have finally landed a position that you're ready to let your hair down and relax as you start. Not so fast! In many organizations, the first few months on the job are actually officially a probationary period, so it's your job to impress from Day One in order to launch yourself on the right track in your new organization.
How can you be sure to make a good impression from the very first day?
Plan what you are going to wear.
Perhaps, in the excitement of getting a job, you haven't thought much about what to wear to the office each day. Make sure you find out the expected attire. While many workplaces are "business casual," if your job is "suit and tie," you don't want to be worrying about going shopping on your way home from your first day because you don't have the right clothing. Plan everything in advance, as you would for an interview, so you will be comfortable and suitably attired from the start.
Get there early.
Make sure that you find out how long it is going to take you to get to work. Do not put yourself in a position of offering excuses for being late on the first day because you didn't understand the traffic patterns. "The early bird gets the worm" isn't just a trite cliche; it's a reminder that when you appear prepared and ready, you'll put yourself in a position to succeed.
Prepare how to introduce yourself.
You thought your "elevator pitch" was history now that you have a job? Not so fast. How do you want to introduce yourself to new colleagues? Think beyond, "My name is ... " What do you want them to remember about you? What do you want to be known for? Be sure to work on your eye contact, a pleasant smile and a firm handshake. All of this will contribute to the first impression that your colleagues have of you.
Don't be the one who tells everyone you're "not good with names."
People will be impressed with someone who takes the time and effort to learn their names. Make this a priority. A few tips: Use people's names as soon as they are introduced. Say, "Nice to meet you, Sara." If you didn't catch the name, or are unsure of the pronunciation, ask the person to repeat his or her name, and make a real effort to learn it. Take notes so you'll remember people later. For example, jot down something to help you match a new colleague's name and face. Another trick? Make an association with the person's name. If Tom is tall, think, "Tall Tom" and you're more likely to remember it later.
Organize your workspace.
Look around to see how other people organize their areas. If no one else has personal items or photos out, consider keeping your area clear of those types of things. Keep in mind, if you look sloppy at work, people will assume you aren't well organized enough to manage important projects. Everything you do helps create an impression.
Take advantage of your new status to ask good questions.
There's never a better time to ask questions than when you start a job. Don't miss this opportunity to find out what you'll need to know to do your job well. Be careful, though, not to ask questions that sound like you are challenging the status quo as soon as you start the job. Keep your questions to things that you are curious about and try to save the "Why do you do it that way instead of this other way?" types of inquiries for later on.
Be a good listener.
No one at work wants to try to teach you something and to later find out that you were daydreaming instead of listening. Make sure that you stay focused and listen carefully, especially when you first start a job. If you have a tendency to let your mind wander, be on alert and prevent it from affecting your work.
Everyone expects you to be happy to be at work when you start a new job. Stay positive and upbeat, and make sure to appear delighted to be there. Even if it isn't your dream job, act as if it is.
Don't bolt at the end of the day.
Especially when you start a new job, don't be a clock watcher. It can't hurt to stay a little beyond your designated hours so that everyone sees that you're more interested in getting the job done and less interested in running for the door.
More from Keppie Careers:
How to improve your listening skills
Soft skills to help you get the job
Does your resume make you look old?