Day One on Your New Job

Dear, Anita,

I used lots of your advice for my résumé and job hunting in the past couple of months, and I landed a sweet position as an administrative assistant! I start in a few weeks, and I’m excited and nervous at the same time. This is only my second job. How can I make sure I start off on the right foot?

Start New JobDear, Restive Rookie,

As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Since you were hired, you obviously influenced your soon-to-be boss to good effect. But now you’ll want to charm the rest of the team with whom you’ll be working. Here are eight tips to help you put your best foot forward.

  1. Arrive on time. Better yet, show up 10 minutes early. Do a dry run of your route to work the week before, preferably near your starting hour to gauge potential traffic snarls. Get plenty of rest the night before so you won’t sleep through your alarm (easier said than done when nerves and an overactive imagination can keep you awake!). Select your outfit the night before, which brings us to…
  2. Tie in MirrorDress fittingly. When you interviewed, hopefully you noticed what is considered appropriate work wear for your position. When in doubt, overdress rather than underdress for your first day.
  3. Take notes. I never trust those waiters who don’t write down my order, do you? You’ll be deluged with a lot of new information. Hopefully there is a manual outlining all of your job duties, but bring your own notepad to jot things down so they make sense to you.
  4. Don’t talk too much. Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Before offering suggestions about how to improve things, or relating TMI (too much information) about your personal life, get to know the culture, systems, and other employees first.
  5. Ask questions. Conversely, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. What isn’t a dumb question today may appear foolish a few months down the road. If you finish a task, don’t just sit there – ask your supervisor what’s next.
  6. ’Fess up if you mess up. Oops, you accidentally hung up on a client. All but the most hard-hearted of bosses will forgive newbie mistakes, as long as you don’t keep repeating them.
  7. Bring your lunch – but nothing stinky (save your leftover curry for dinner). You may or may not be asked out to lunch by your new supervisor or coworkers. Toss your brown bag if invited, but you won’t starve if it’s not a social company culture.
  8. Have a great attitude. Show enthusiasm (but not deranged cheerleader level excitement). Keep a positive outlook even if you feel overwhelmed. More often than not, the feeling will pass once you get more comfortable with your new duties and surroundings.

Readers: Have you ever made a first day faux pas?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tiffany Lieu
    Mar 17, 2015 @ 15:17:08

    Not that I remember in an obvious way. Any first day for the job assignments I have gone to often involved showing me around where the things and places are. I often had enough opportunity to ask questions as time passed on. And I was not lacking in questions as I needed or wanted to know. I think we always need to develop conversational skills. I was not very conversational though. So, good to figure things out as well as learning to ask around when necessary. It won’t happen overnight I admit.

    Reply

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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