Make That First Day at Work Successful

Summer’s coming to an end (unfortunately). After a last hurrah, graduates may be facing that first day at work. While it’s a time of excitement, it also can fill the newly hired person with trepidation: What’s it going to be like? Where will I work? Who will be next to me? Will I like any of my coworkers?

You have just one chance to make a first impression at the new job, so making a good one can make your experience at the job start off on a positive note and give you the best chance for success. Here are six tips to make those first days as successful as possible:

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1. Be on time. You’ve seen me write about this piece of advice before. Yet, it matters not only when you arrive for work each day, but it also matters for meetings you attend and work you’re assigned to do. When you are “on time,” you look organized, professional, and responsible; but when you arrive late or when your work isn’t completed on time, you look disorganized, unprofessional, and irresponsible. Make being on time a habit from day one and it’ll be easier to be on time every day.

2. Dress appropriately. Be clear what the dress code is and then abide by it. Your adherence to it is a mark of respect both toward your company and your colleagues.

3. Know people’s names. People’s names matter—to them. By getting them right and by knowing for whom you will be working, you will start out on the right foot as you greet them correctly on the first day. Making sure you know how to pronounce names, especially your manager’s name, will help relieve some of the stress you feel that first day.

4. Defer to the formal. You will meet new people, including those older than you and more senior to you. With these people, start by using titles and last names. It’s much easier to switch from “Ms. Potter” to “Nancy” than it is to go from calling her Nancy to Ms. Potter.

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5. Be a good listener. Tempting as it might be to see something you might want to change or do differently, toe the line initially. This isn’t the time to begin criticizing processes or offering your opinion on how to do something better.

6. Keep your after-work schedule clear. That first day and over the next week or two it’s important to begin building relationships and getting to know people. If your colleagues get together after work, make an effort to be available to join them. Once you’ve made that effort a few times you may choose not to, at least not all the time, but in those first few days keep your calendar clear in case the opportunity presents itself.

If you have a business etiquette question, please email it to etiquetteatwork@emilypost.com. You can hear more Emily Post etiquette advice on the Awesome Etiquette podcast featuring Lizzie Post and Dan Post Senning. Listen and subscribe at infiniteguest.org.

Post’s newest book, The Unwritten Rules of Golf, Morrow, is available at emilypost.com.

Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers’ questions in The Boston Sunday Globe’s weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of “The Etiquette Advantage in Business” and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book “Essential Manners For Men” was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of “Essential Manners for Couples,” “Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf,” and co-author of “A Wedding Like No Other.” Post is Emily Post’s great-grandson. His media appearances include “CBS Sunday Morning,” CBS’s “The Early Show,” NBC’s “Today,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and “Fox News.” Follow Post: @PeterLPost.

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