The Ultimate Guide to Your First Day of Work

Well, let’s start by talking about my son’s first day of work because I think it may make you laugh a little and it always helps knowing that someone else may have had it worse. Fresh out of college, my son landed the job of his dreams. He put in tireless work during high school and college pursuing his passion. He was lucky enough to find a company in the financial industry that was willing to hire and train him right out of college.

I remember it like yesterday (on his first day) when he called me. He was frantic. He told me his veneer feel off his tooth on the way to work. As a mom, I was so upset trying to come up with ideas to super glue it on or do anything to soothe him from a distance. I asked if he could call in and explain it, then run to the dentist. He said being late on the first day was not an option.

When he got to work, he was taken around the office and introduced to everyone. Each time he’d smile when he met someone and just owned the fact that he grew up in in some desolate area in the woods. He took a bad situation and made into something funny when each person saw his little peg of a tooth. Everyone was at ease and had a good laugh. He would forever be remembered for that first toothless day, but that’s because he made the best of it. I hope none of you lose a tooth on your first day, but if something bad happens, just own it and try to make the best of it.

Useful Tips for Preparing for Your First Day

Getting Quality Sleep

One thing that is very important before your first day of work is getting enough sleep. Often times the anticipation of starting a new job can leave you restless and unable to fall asleep. Arriving puffy eyed and foggy can often be the result. Do your best to try to turn off all electronics at least an hour or two before bed. Listen to some relaxing music, take a bath, and pop a couple of melatonin (if you need to). Essential Oils are also very good for relaxing us at night when we go to bed.

On Amazon, you can order a diffuser that will disperse essential oils as you sleep. I like the NexGadget 400ml BPA Free Ultrasonic Wood Grain Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser. It was rated 5 stars by 569 people, so good enough for me. Now as far as oils go, there is a big difference. The only two brands I buy are Young Living or Doterra. These are available online at their sites or on Amazon. There have been rumors that say people dilute them to resell on Amazon and that you don’t get the quality you expect. I am not sure if this is true or possible, but I’d just recommended going directly to the manufacturer websites. The difference between these oils and the cheaper ones is these oils can be eaten. Many other oils are more like perfumes and contain chemicals where these only contain oils directly from the plants and are grown organically in the best soils.

I use lavender as my nighttime oil. It has long been reported as one of the best sleep aides available. You can also take a nice warm bath and also add some of your lavender to the water.

Do a Trial Run

The second thing I recommend is doing a trial run on your commute before the first day. Go at the exact time that you will need to and see how the traffic and parking is so that you don’t have to worry about that on top of everything else. If you really don’t want to do this, just leave very early. Plan out your day by going to a nearby coffee shop and getting yourself into the right mental state.

Pack a Lunch

Pack yourself a lunch ahead of time. You never know what the situation will be for your lunch break. Some companies take you out for lunch on your first day, some don’t. Either way, if you have a lunch packed, you’re showing something positive to your employer. First, you’re prepared and think ahead. Second, you prefer to work versus taking time off to get lunch on your first day. It just gives you more options and

Do Your Homework

You should already know this after going through the interview process, but make sure you know all about the company and the position you’ve been hired for. Do what you can to educate yourself on other people in the company. You’re going to meet a lot of people in the office on the first day, so try to remember everyone’s name as best as you can. Just be sure you know who the higher ups are at the company as well since those people tend to form strong opinions and set the tone for the company. Many established companies have pages where you can see the team and leadership. It’s a good idea to know if you’re talking to a co-worker at the same level versus someone who started the company.

Look Sharp

Be intentional about what you wear on the first day. You want to look good but it’s smart to play it safe. If you observed during your interview the way people dress in the office, you have a good idea of how to dress on day one. If there are certain days that are designated as casual, you’ll want to know that. Save your really trendy outfits for when you’re more established in the office and you’ve worked there for awhile. It’s always best to play it safe at first.

Bring Your Own Notebook

You should come prepared to take notes the first day. If you bring your own notebook, you don’t have to ask for one. Again, you’ll just look more prepared, and these small details do matter. You are going to have a whirlwind of introductions and meetings. There may be several people with the same first name. You’re going to learn a lot of new processes, and writing down information is good for your retention. It also shows that you’re listening and absorbing what your superior is telling you, which reflects positively on you.

Be an Active Listener

The key word on your first day of work is restraint. You want to be a listener first. If you are easily excitable and overly energetic, tone it down. Ease into humor. If everyone is cracking jokes before a meeting, don’t join in just yet. You don’t know which lines to cross, especially with your boss. Whatever you do, never act like a task is beneath you. You should always be hungry to learn more by listening early on.

Even though you may be excited and have a ton of new ideas, keep them to yourself on the first day, unless you’re asked. The best way to win people’s favor is by listening, giving them respect, and seeking feedback on your ideas before presenting them as a new reality. Asking questions is something you should do because it’s expected. As a boss, some of the best signs a new employee is going to work out is that he or she asking the right questions.

Understand the Expectations

Get on the same page with your department and leadership. Having clear communication is essential to a successful working relationship. It may not be a bad idea to set up a meeting with your direct supervisor to talk about communication and managerial style so you know what the expectations are. Some managers want to know everything, while others take a more hands off approach and prefer not being bothered. If you get and understanding of how your boss expects communication, you’ll avoid any bumps and start off with right relationship. They will also appreciate you asking.

Some Other Things to Consider When Starting a New Job

Office Politics

When a company gets big enough, there are always going to be office politics. There’s no stopping it. You’re in the office with different personalities, unchosen relationships, and you have to navigate politics where your career is at stake. Everyone has many different ideas and goals. There’s a lot going on here, and it would be crazy to think you’ll get along with everyone you work with.

Whether you find yourself in a struggle for control or getting a promotion, an office can be a battleground. Most experts agree that we do need to engage in office politics to foster good relationships at work. We all know that the office can house some power hungry people capable of vicious behavior. Everyone uses politics in some way. Some people don’t even recognize it. You just need to be subtle about it.

There are some people who are naturals. They have very agreeable personalities and are irresistibly likeable. There are those who feel it is insincere and are uncomfortable with this game. Then, there are others who make it a point to push the politics and the drama No matter what category you fall into, it helps to learn how politics work. Expert Louellen Essex suggests that you adopt a role model you respect and who has attained a high position at work and study his or her politics. By studying his or her political skills and imitating his or her behavior, you’re more likely to make a difference.

Swearing at Work

I came accross this study by researchers at Great Britain’s University of East Anglia that said employees should feel free to swear at work. I suggest treading carefully here, but the study evaluated the prevalence and effect of swearing in the workplace. Researchers Yehuda Baruch and Stuart Jenkins found that swearing may be more beneficial than the average HR director would think, and swearing in a fun, non-abusive manner enabled people to develop personal relationships among their co-workers.

If an employee uses foul language outside of work, then he or she is merely showing part of his personality at work by not doing it. The absence of it can be a barrier between really getting to know each other. Swearing, Bruch and Jenkins found, is a big stress reliever, and when let out is much more healthy than keeping it bottled up. Often times a little cursing can release frustration and propel the employee to move on.

It has been noted that swearing among lower level employees is much more prevalent, but it is the hope of this study that managers open up and swear in the workplace. This may come as a radical shift from the philosophies that traditionally frowned on it. Still, it’s best to exercise restraint and judgement. Just know that it is more accepted in workplaces today more than ever. I wouldn’t swear just to do it, but an occasional swear word at the appropriate time can make those around you feel like you’re more approachable and open.

Flattery and Sucking Up

No one in the office likes a brownnosing and sucking up, but bosses seem to like it. Flattery can be a powerful thing. People use it to their advantage all the time. Some of us claim that we have self respect and never use it. The truth is we have all used it at one point or another. There is a line that can be crossed where flattery becomes unethical. It becomes unethical when we are doing it for selfish reasons or more when you really don’t mean what you say. Ethical or not brownnosing seems to work at least in some cases.

The reason that brownnosing works is that it makes us feel like we are more like each other and more willing to do favors. It gives a sense of feeling that the other person understands you and notices your efforts. It has long been known that promotions go to those who align best with their boss’ and company’s interests. Researchers have found that even when we know the flatterer has something to gain by our good favor, we still like flatterers more than people who don’t compliment us. What’s really interesting is someone who witnesses flattery is immediately suspicious, but if the compliment is aimed at them, they will fall for it. There is a small game to be played here. The best practice is to compliment someone when you respect something you see, but going overboard can put a target on your back for fellow employees.