How should I approach day one in my new job?
It took you a lot of effort to get there, so make the most of it and enjoy your new working environment. Dress your best. It will make you feel good and your confidence will infect those around you. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to work, and eat a proper breakfast so you're not looking for an opportunity to dive out and grab something mid-morning.
Remember the qualities that got you the job in the first place. Smile, be positive, make eye contact, greet new colleagues with a firm handshake. It's a bit like the interview, but this time you've got to make a good first impression with many more people. It's OK to be a little nervous and on your guard at first. You'll have plenty of time to relax into your new role in the weeks to come.
You're unlikely to be asked to do any real work on your first day - that will be saved for after your settling in period. Whatever you are asked to do, make sure you give it your all.
This should be a basic attribute anyway, but make sure you don't accidentally rub anyone up the wrong way on your first day. Everyone you encounter, from the receptionist right up to the big boss, should receive the same impression of you – polite and respectful. Make it your business to introduce yourself, especially if your new manager doesn't introduce you first. With so much else to organise, they sometimes forget.
Feel free to ask advice. Don't stand there shuffling your feet if you don't know where to go or what to do. It may make you appear nervous or standoffish, and you don't need to start erecting possible barriers on day one.
Go with the flow
Even if you're already experienced in your role, don't assume you can simply do what you did before in the same way. While there are probably plenty of skills you can transfer, every workplace has its own way of operating. Keep your eyes and ears open and try to fit in as smoothly as possible. A definite phrase to avoid is “We didn't do it like this in my last company”. It's guaranteed to wind up your new colleagues.
Join in any coffee breaks or anything that gives you a chance to get to know your new colleagues on a more personal level. They will be able help you to understand the unwritten rules of the workplace from answering personal mobile phone calls to nipping outside for a cigarette.
Keep an eye out for the office cynic. There's always someone who wants to tell you what a dump you've come to, even if they've been there for 20 years and secretly love the place. You should also be cautious of anyone trying to be too friendly until you have got a proper idea of the office politics. By being too close to one group you could alienate yourself from others, especially if they're not popular in other parts of the company.
Never talk your last job or company down, and be discreet in what you say about former employers. Even big industries can be small places, and your new colleagues may know or even be related to some of your old workmates. Plus, it doesn't give a great impression of your working style. Who wants a bitch or someone who likes to moan on the team?
Take a second before you commit to saying anything. You'll be nervous anyway which will heighten your anxiety and your eagerness to please. So consider your responses and actions. It's better to be tagged as cautious and thoughtful rather than rash and impulsive.
Be the one who volunteers for something, like changing the bottle on the water cooler or doing a coffee run. Be the last to lunch in the early days, the first back, and one of the last out of the door at night. Show your new colleagues that you're committed and mean business but also looking to integrate yourself as one of the team.