13 helpful tips for a successful first day of work

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 5 May 2022

Starting a new job is an exciting time and is a great opportunity for you to make a good impression. On your first day, you enter a new environment with new colleagues and there's usually a lot of new information to learn. Knowing some useful tips can help you make the most of your first day and start your new role in a positive way. In this article, we explain why your first day of work is important and outline some tips that can help you have a successful first day in your new role.

Why is your first day of work important?

Your first day of work is important because it's your first opportunity to meet colleagues and visit your office or work site. For employees who work remotely, this is still an important opportunity to meet colleagues and managers, understand how the organisation works and start learning your new responsibilities. On your first day, it's essential that you make a positive first impression on the people you're now working with and start settling into your new job as quickly as possible.

13 tips for your first day in a new job

Feeling anxious about your first day in a new job is normal, but there are some things you can do to make your first day go more smoothly. Below are 13 tips that can help you have a great first day in your new role:

1. Plan your commute

Planning your commute can help you feel calmer about getting to work on time on your first day. This also helps you to adjust to a new route. Whether you plan to drive or take public transport, try to calculate the most appropriate route to take. You can also practise your route beforehand if you think this might be helpful. On your first day, it's a good idea to leave home a bit earlier than normal to ensure that you arrive on time. You can then adjust your commute time as you become more comfortable in your new role.

2. Plan your outfit

Planning your outfit means that you have one less thing to think about on your first day in your new role. When doing this, make sure that you adhere to any information you have about the dress code. If you don't have any specific guidance about what to wear, it's a good idea to wear smart business attire. Then, if you notice other people are wearing more casual clothes, you can adapt the way you dress for the next day.

3. Enter the building on time

While you might arrive in the area before you're due to start work on your first day, it's vital to enter the building on time. Arriving too early might mean that HR or your new manager hasn't had a chance to prepare yet. If you arrive early, you can wait nearby in a shop or cafe until it's time to start work. By arriving at the correct time, you can make a positive impression on your first day.

4. Be authentic

On your first day, try to act as you normally would. The employer hired you because they felt that you were right for the job, so don't be afraid of showcasing your personality. Being authentic also helps other people to get to know you. Trying to act in a certain way can make you feel more anxious, whereas being authentic creates consistency in how you behave and what other people expect from you.

5. Be relaxed

Employers understand that there's a lot to take in on your first day, so try to relax. You may make minor mistakes or misunderstand new concepts and procedures, but this is normal. Trying to relax makes it easier for you to learn new things and adapt to your new work environment. Slow and deep breathing can help you to relax when you feel anxious. If you have time, you can also try doing something relaxing like yoga or meditation before you start work to help you feel calmer.

Related: 14 effective calming techniques to help reduce anxiety

6. Prepare an elevator pitch about yourself

An elevator pitch is a very brief description that can be useful to prepare for your first day at work. This is a brief introduction to use if people ask about where you worked previously or what your job is now. For your pitch, you can mention your work history, new role and why you changed jobs. Try to keep the tone of your pitch positive, so avoid criticising your previous employer. In addition, aim to keep the pitch brief, as providing a lot of detail might be overwhelming for people who are meeting you for the first time.

Related: 3 elevator pitch examples (plus how to structure your pitch)

7. Ask lots of questions

Asking lots of questions demonstrates your willingness to learn and helps you to adapt to your new role more quickly. You might already have questions you know you want to ask and you may have other questions that arise throughout the day. Your employer likely expects you to have questions ready and they may tell you to ask them at any time. If they don't, you can make a note of the questions that arise and arrange an appropriate time to discuss these points with HR or with your manager.

8. Be friendly

It's a good idea to be polite and friendly to everyone you meet, regardless of whether they're in your team. You may speak with colleagues from a range of different departments during your time with the organisation, so having a friendly attitude from the start is beneficial. On your first day, try to ask questions about other people, as this helps you to get to know them and feel more comfortable. Being friendly and open can also help others to accept you as part of their team more quickly.

9. Talk to as many people as possible

Another useful tip is to talk to as many people as possible, even if you're only briefly greeting them. This is another way of demonstrating that you have a friendly and positive attitude. Talking to the people you're going to be working with directly is particularly important, but it's also helpful to speak to people more widely, regardless of their position in the organisation. The reason for this is that treating everyone equally and with the same respect helps to make a good first impression.

10. Use open body language

Adapting your body language to show that you're open and approachable is also important on your first day in a new job. Even if someone doesn't speak to you directly, your body language can make a positive impression. When someone is speaking to you, you can also use body language to show that you're listening and taking an interest in what they're saying. Sitting or standing up straight also shows that you're engaged in what's happening in any situation.

Related: What is body language? A complete professional guide

11. Accept lunch invitations

If someone invites you to have lunch with them on your first day, it's sensible to accept the invitation. Having lunch with strangers might feel intimidating, but it's a valuable opportunity to get to know your colleagues in a more sociable setting. It can also help you find out more about the area you're working in if you go out somewhere for lunch. Alongside this, going for lunch with others helps you to build relationships that can be essential during your employment.

12. Be observant

Being observant is also a helpful thing to do during your first day at work. It's sensible to pay attention to your environment and to how other people behave. This helps you to adapt to the new work environment and also understand the organisational culture and how people interact with each other. Being observant in this way can help you to understand what the expectations are, which allows you to adapt your own behaviour accordingly.

13. End the day positively

Ending the day in a positive way prepares you to start your second day in a positive frame of mind. Try to say 'goodbye' to your manager and colleagues when you leave and thank anyone involved in training or supporting you on your first day. Even if you experienced issues during your first day, try to accept that this is inevitable in a new job and reassure yourself that things can only improve over time. This can make you feel more optimistic about returning to work the next day.