How to Survive your First Day at a New Job

Even the most seasoned professional with many years of career experience can be subject to the odd nervous twinge on their first day in a new role at an unfamiliar company.
However, there are plenty of ways to combat those vicious new experience butterflies. A little practical preparation and steps to get you in the right frame of mind are all you need to make it through in style.

The Night Before

Pack your bag in the evening to ensure you arrive in a suitably tooled up fashion with a notebook and pen; notes will stand you in good stead for the information onslaught that’s bound to come. Suitable rations, you might be planning to go out for lunch but a handy granola bar never goes amiss when your stomach’s growling. Also consider taking a USB stick, it will undoubtedly come in handy, but you may find having your CV and any examples of projects previously done may be of use.

In addition to packing your bag, have an outfit picked out the night before. Make sure you’ve checked not only the weather but the dress code expected. For instance, if the office has a casual atmosphere a smart top and jeans may be more appropriate than a full suit, but there is such a thing as too casual. I was certainly relieved to be warned before my first day, a Friday, that it was dress down.

Be sure to have a relaxing evening beforehand possibly including a long hot soak or something similarly calming. Make sure you get to bed at such a time that you set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. Although try not to fret too much if you have difficulty sleeping, reading a book or getting up to do yoga can work wonders and help you from clock watching.

Morning and Travel

commuteThe morning of your first day is important too, have a decent breakfast and leave in plenty of time. If your new workplace is in a strange location to you then ensure you know how you’re getting there and aim to arrive about ten minutes early (any more than that would be a little too keen but you definitely don’t want anyone to think you’re going to pitch up late).

If you are commuting on public transport use that time to your advantage, browse through the company’s website and social media. Or read some useful blogs about your area of expertise, not only will this help you wow your colleagues with the latest knowledge of trends within your industry but it will also help keep you calm and focus. And if in doubt you can always do some meditation with apps such as headspace or do your own form of motivation with your favourite playlist.

At the Office

work_deskPreparation doesn’t end for after the point when you’ve come through the doors wearing your wonderfully natty work outfit.

Do your best to learn names, at least of those in your immediate team. Don’t worry if you’re not blessed with the best memory for faces, we’ve all been there. There are all sorts of tricks you can use to boost retention when it comes to an introduction. If you’ve got time for a chat make sure to use their name in conversation or get them to spell it out if it’s slightly weird and wonderful. One trick I like to use is association alliteration where you memorise the name in conjunction with a fact such as “Ian has a pet Iguana”.

Be generous – there’s nothing better for putting you in the good books than offering to make a round of hot drinks. Make sure you produce spectacularly average teas and coffees so that your infamy (be it good or bad) doesn’t spread too quickly. Offers work the other way too, if someone on your team asks you to lunch or suggests after work drinks then go!

At the end of the day (metaphorically speaking), you won’t be expected to be completely up and running from the first moment you step in the office. The first few days are when you can and should ask for help. Be positive and make sure you thank anyone giving up their time to train you.

Once the first day is out of the way (or during and before) you can start really thinking about the job in hand. Some advocate the putting together of a 30/60/90 so that you can set out what you’re going to achieve in your first 3 months and beyond. Best of luck and remember that if you’ve been placed by a recruiter we’ll be dying to hear how you’ve got on after you first day so pop us a call!

If you would like more advice, please email us at or call 0118 9522 792

You can also check out other job advice posts such as “Getting in the Zone” and “Receiving and Understanding Feedback”