Five tips for your first day at work

Written by: UCAS
Published on: 24 Feb 2021

Congratulations, the job’s yours – now you can look forward to your first day at work!

As exciting as it is, starting a new job can be scary too, and it’s only natural to have some first day nerves – after all, you’re going into a new environment, you don’t know anyone, and you won’t be sure of your role yet.

You first day will be all about settling in though, and you can ease those nerves by getting yourself as prepared as possible. Follow our five tips to help you have a great first day…

1. Dress up

What you wear on your first day at work is important – it’s your chance to make a good impression on your new workmates and persuade them they’ve hired the right person. You want to look professional and feel confident in yourself, so you can focus on learning your new job.

What you wear will depend on your role, but it’s a good idea to ask about the company’s dress code before you start so you feel confident in your choice of clothes.

In the current situation, you may be working at home. You want to be comfortable, but it’s still a good idea to dress the part. It’ll boost your confidence and help you get in the right frame of mind for a productive first day at work.

2. Making the right first impression

Sounds obvious, but make sure you turn up for work on-time, or even a bit early!

Smile, be friendly, and introduce yourself to as many of your new colleagues as you can. If you’re working from home, ask your manager who you should set up online introduction meetings with.

Keep a positive can-do attitude and show your willingness to learn and help out. Ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid of asking for help when you need it – but make sure you listen to the answers and thank your colleagues for their advice.

Trying to make a good first impression can be challenging, but relax and be yourself. If you feel yourself getting stressed, take some long, slow deep breaths – and remember, it’s OK if you make a mistake – you’re not expected to know everything on your first day.

When you leave, say goodbye and let your boss know you’ve enjoyed you day!

3. Meeting new people

Say hello and talk to as many people as you can, to show you’re friendly and approachable.

Once you’ve introduced yourself to your new colleagues, make an effort to remember their names. Write them down if you need to, and use them in conversation!

Your first day might be a bit overwhelming, but try not to hide behind your computer screen. If you’re invited to join your boss or new workmates for lunch (even virtually) – go! It’s a great opportunity to find out more about them and how things work, and to make new friends.

Show a genuine interest in people and listen to what they have to say. Your first day is a good time to observe and learn. Make the effort to find out about your workmates and their jobs, as it will help you do your job better.

4. Things to take with you on your first day

Your employer will probably tell you what you need to bring, but generally you’ll need:

  • identification – e.g. driving licence, passport or birth certificate
  • original certificates for your qualifications
  • your National Insurance number and bank details
  • notepad and pen
  • money for coffee and lunch 
  • a bottle of water and a mug – the essentials!

5. Questions you could ask on your first day

Questions will naturally arise when you start working, but think about what you want to know and do some research about the organisation before you start. This will show your interest and commitment, and you’ll be as fully informed as possible about the company and your job.

You can then ask questions more likely to impress you new boss, such as:

What should I focus on in my first week and month?  Show you’re a team player, keen to get started and committed to achieving your objectives.  

How will my performance be reviewed? This might be ongoing or quarterly, for example. Again, this shows your commitment, but also that you’re open to feedback and constructive criticism to improve your performance and reach your goals.

What’s the team’s biggest obstacle at the moment? It’s good to know early on what your team’s challenges are. Show your interest and start thinking about possible solutions you could offer.

How do people prefer to communicate across the organisation? Most companies now use a messaging system or group chat, others use email or the phone. Also find out if visiting people in different parts of the organisation is encouraged and if there is an ‘open-door’ policy for management.

What are my normal working hours? If this hasn’t already been discussed, ask what time you're expected to start and finish work, and how much time you have for lunch and breaks. The company might have a flexible working policy and specific guidelines about working late, on weekends, or taking time off in lieu (TOIL).