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How to Prepare for the First Day of a New Job


Getting a new job can be an exciting experience, whether you’re making a career change or taking your first role out of college. Along with excitement often comes anxious jitters and pressure to make a good first impression on your new coworkers. You got the job, so they already think you’re pretty awesome, but here are a few of our favorite to tips to help calm your nerves.

Brush Up on Your Industry Knowledge

Regardless if you’re fresh out of school, if you’ve been working in the same trade for years, or if you’re pivoting industries completely, it’s important to brush up on the industry and the organization. Go beyond what you might’ve researched during the interview process, and look for industry-specific terminology or new regulations that might impact your position and/or the company.

Consider looking at trade publications. They usually have trial periods during which you can access their entire catalog of articles [We love Staffing Industry Analysts, for example.]. Once you’ve brushed up and have a general understanding, don’t hesitate to ask questions! It’s a great way to show you’re engaged and interested.

Take Some Time In Between

While it doesn’t always work out that you have a week or so between leaving a job and starting a new one, it’s a trend that’s increasing in popularity. Most importantly, it gives you the chance to reflect, reset, and start fresh. Secondly, you likely won’t start out with a lot of PTO, so take advantage of some time for yourself. If you have travel in mind, make sure you schedule your return flight to arrive with plenty of time to prepare for the first day on the job [more on this in a minute].

It’s also an excellent opportunity to schedule any of those lingering appointments like your annual dentist or doctor’s appointment — and of course if you have a built-up to-do list that is hanging over your head, NOW is the time to get it done! It’s never certain what your first day/week/month will bring, and the last thing you’ll want to deal with on top of learning a new role is whatever might be lingering on that to-do list.

Practice Make Perfect

If you want to head into your first day feeling completely confident, there are a few things you can practice to get there! When it comes to your commute, you may want to go beyond looking up directions on Google Maps and actually take a drive to the location [bonus points if it’s at the actual time you’ll be heading in on the first day!]. It’s easy to become flustered by directions/traffic, and you certainly don’t want to be late on our first day! Get familiar with the route, ensure your gas tank is full, and if you take public transit, that your card is loaded for the trip!

Another thing to practice is “small talk.” It may seem a little silly, we know — but people will likely be interested in learning all about you on the first day. Prepare some fun facts about yourself in case of an ice breaker exercise, and have some general talking points in mind in the event there’s a team lunch. Even though you’ve already been hired for the job, it’s not unusual to feel like your new colleagues are interviewing you a bit the first week. They’re likely just as excited to get to know you!

Plan Your Outfit

As it’s commonly known, “if you look good, you feel good.” A great outfit can be a game-changer. Especially on a day where you might feel a little out of place or nervous, finding something to wear that you feel confident in will make it that much easier to relax. As a general rule of thumb, if you aren’t familiar with the dress code, overdressing is always better than underdressing. If time allows, try on your outfit a couple days beforehand to make sure everything fits appropriately.

This way, if something doesn’t work as you expected, you have time to go to the store and find a replacement. If you interviewed in-person, then you might’ve been able to get a sense of the dress code. If not, see if you can gather an understanding of how employees dress from their social media pages. Really not sure? Email your manager or HR contact. They’ll be happy to guide you in the right direction. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to check the weather and have backup layers, shoes, or accessories if the day comes and the weather has completely changed [We’re looking at you St. Louis weather.].

Get Ready the Night Before

In the same way that you should get your outfit prepared the night before, it may also serve you well to have your bag packed, including snacks, and anything else you plan to take along. Be sure to bring a couple pens and a notebook. Asking if there’s anything specific you need to bring is a great way to be proactive and show initiative.

Complete and print out any forms HR or other members of the team have sent you and bring them with you in a folder to avoid them being crumpled in transit. If you’re a water person, have your bottle washed and by the sink the night before for a quick fill-up in the A.M. The same goes for your personal mug and queuing up the coffee pot [especially if you NEED your caffeine to get moving in the morning].

You can leave your personal items and desk tchotchkes at home until you’re a little more comfortable with you workspace. And of course, don’t forget to head to sleep early, quadruple check your alarms are set correctly, and get a full night’s rest for the following day!

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