How to Have a Great First Day of Work

Feb 20, 2020

Within seven seconds, people form an impression of who you are. According to research conducted by Princeton, people decide on your trustworthiness in a tenth of a second. These snap judgments stick with you and your reputation will be established.

As scary as that sounds, preparing for your first day at work should be fun! Just take your impression into consideration. Here are some tips to help you navigate your first day of work.

Dress for success.

People will judge you on how you look, so wear your best on your first day to give a great first impression. Choose your best interview outfit and you can’t go wrong.

Don’t be late.

Ideally, your first day will see you arriving at least 15 minutes early. This way you can meet your contact in HR and fill out any paperwork before meeting with your boss.

Be confident.

Your first day is cause for excitement and you should be proud to be there! Make sure you are projecting confidence through your body language. If you are at ease with yourself, others will feel more comfortable talking to you.

Bring identification documents.

As you’re filling out those forms, you will need federal identification to prove your citizenship. Check with your HR contact ahead of your first day to find out what you need to bring on your first day.

Learn office policies—and informal “rules”.

You’ll most likely be given an employee handbook full of rules and regulations. But what about those unspoken rules, like no leaving right at 5 o’clock on the dot? You’ll have to use your intuition and pick up on these over time. Look to your coworkers to see if you can identify and culture clues.

Mute your cell phone.

I never turn off my cell phone because I have young kids and need to be available. But, I do keep it silent in the office so that I don’t disturb anyone. Make sure you do the same.

Be positive and polite.

Everyone wants to work with enthusiastic people who are positive and polite to others. Strive to be this way and you’ll have tons of new friends in no time. Don’t pry into people’s personal lives, tell rude jokes, or drive like a maniac in the parking lot. Just be a genuinely friendly and courteous person.


A smile goes a long way to encouraging others to feel at ease, and will make you feel that way too.

Be a self-starter.

It’s hard to know what to do without being told on your very first day. But if you’re out of work, don’t just sit there playing on your smartphone! Ask your boss what else you can help with or learn.

Avoid water cooler gossip.

This should be a given, but in case you need to hear it: don’t join in gossip at work. It’s unprofessional and will give you a bad reputation that you can’t shake.

Say “thank you.”

Make sure you’re not only courteous, but also sharing your gratitude with others. Most people will go out of their way to help a newbie, and you should appreciate that kind of welcome.

Own your mistakes.

Don’t blame others when you make a mistake. Own it, learn from it, and move on.

Above all, be yourself!

A good first impression is important, but don’t forget to be yourself. These tips are intended to make you feel prepared and comfortable on your first day of work, not to turn you into someone you’re not.

Written by: Sarah Perlman

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