The first day on a new job is a bit like the first day of kindergarten. Feelings of anticipation and excitement, mixed with sheer terror. After all you have a new route to travel, new people to meet and a new physical space to get used to. To top it all off, you have a new boss. Now you need to figure out how to stay in his or her good books. Likewise, your boss needs to plan to make your first day a good day.
If you’re the new employee, it’s important to find out a few things before the big day. You need to know what time to show up and what attire is appropriate. Are safety shoes required? What is your travel route? What time do you have to leave home to get to work with 15 minutes to spare? Where do you park? If you are taking the bus, determine the timing of the bus route, and how to navigate to your new place of work from the bus stop. If possible, check it out over a couple of days, so you can review traffic patterns and watch for bottlenecks that might slow you down.
Before the big day, review the research you did on the company during the recruiting process and be aware of recent articles that may have been added to the website or that have appeared in the newspaper, or relevant industry journals. This can help you make a strong impression. Finally, if you don’t know what to expect to do for lunch, prepare a brown bag lunch for the first day.
When you arrive at your new job, announce yourself with a smile and a genuine greeting. A simple, “Hi, my name is Pat and today is my first day,” can be an easy conversation starter. Usually, a colleague or the manager will collect you and take you to your new space. This journey signifies your entry into the clan–an already formed group of people with a common goal. Soon, that will soon be your goal too!
You’ll be meeting lots of people, so pay attention to names and titles. You`ll be given lots of information, such as passcodes, voice mail protocol and information from HR, so it’s a good idea to bring a small notepad that you can jot down notes to refer to later. It makes a good impression if you come in the second day and remember Susie’s name from payroll.
While you’ve been preparing for your new role, your new manager has been preparing for your arrival. No doubt he or she has been working behind the scenes work to ensure you have a workspace, a desk and chair and has sent out a communication to let your colleagues know that you will be joining the team. Your computer has been set up and your phone voice mail is cleared and ready for you. Your manager may have assigned a mentor to help you settle into the work environment. An appointment has been set up to assist you with filling out government tax forms, emergency contact information forms and setting up your payroll account. Now the manager and you have some quality time together. Be ready for a tour of the facility, evacuation options, introductions, and a sit down meeting to review the details of the company handbook, specifics related to your new job, and/or your rights and responsibilities related to health and safety.
If you are lucky, you will have an opportunity to meet a senior manager to review the company values and expectations of conduct. Pay close attention to these; values are the foundation of an organization and living those values is an important part of success in your new job. With planning and an open mind, the first day can set the tone for a long and productive work relationship.