How to Prepare for Your First Day at Work

How to Prepare for Your First Day at Work

By: Daniel Steingold | May 21, 2016

Your first day at work, especially when fresh out of college, can be nerve-racking.

You may not know the nature of the work you’ll be doing. You will likely have endless questions.

Will I get along with my coworkers? What’s their company culture like? Will they work me to death? Will I be able to get a raise or promotion eventually from this entry-level position?

These are all valid inquiries. With this being said, for nearly any type of job, there are ways to properly prepare. This post will discuss ways to properly prepare for your first day on the job.


During the days prior to you starting the job, there are ways you should approach preparation for your first day of work. A little planning goes a long way.

Be Inquisitive

While you shouldn’t ask questions that you should already know the answer to, it’s still important to prepare and ask questions concerning things you may feel unsure about. These types of questions can include ones on operating procedures and how you can be successful on the job.

You don’t need to feel the need to ask all questions on the first day. In fact, the best general procedure is to ask questions at an appropriate juncture, such as when they come up during training.

Prepare Fully

One way you can prepare for your first day is by developing a 30-second elevator pitch by which you can introduce yourself to your new coworkers. Try to make it short and to the point. A good pitch should aid in making it easier to explain your background, motives, and interests.

You should always pick out your clothing the night before. While you need to play the part, you also need to look the part. It is important to not waste any time in the morning deliberating over what you’ll wear.

Also, get a full eight hours of sleep the night before you start the job. Slightly more or less is fine; the point is that you should not feel or come off as foggy-minded or lethargic on your first day.

Lastly, aim to show up to work 15 minutes early on your first day. It not only looks good, showing you appreciate the employer’s time, but it gives you a good sense of how long it’ll take to commute to the job.

During the First Day

Here are some tips for how you can prepare in terms of behavior and actions in the actual workplace on your first day.

Seek Out Social Interaction

Being shy on your first day will get you nowhere. Make it a priority to introduce yourself to everyone at your new employer.

With this being said, you will want to quickly learn who are the right workers to bond with. Any decently-sized workplace is almost always home to cliques, and certain cliques usually get along better with management than others. Choosing the right group could possibly assist you with rising up the ranks.

It’s also important to get friendly with those in positions of seniority, as this can help you with being looked at favorably. Get to know them beyond their title; learn about their interests, family, etc. There is a healthy balance between being too personal and too distant.

When introducing yourself, it is imperative to be aware of your body language and tone of voice. These factors, rather than your actual words, make up 93 percent of how your message is interpreted.

Set a Good First Impression

Although it has already been said, it cannot be emphasized enough: you will want to set a good first impression on your first day.

One point of order is to make sure you smile. Smiling helps signal that you’re happy, approachable, and grateful for the opportunity you’ve received.

It’s important to not act too casually on your first day. Coming off as being too comfortable can make you look cocky and arrogant. You will want to be conservative not only in your attire, but what you say and do. One trick for doing this is to pretend as if you’re still in the interview process.

As a final point, you need to ensure that your phone doesn’t go off during the day when starting out. Allowing your phone to ring on company time makes you look inconsiderate. Options include putting it on silent, airplane mode, or shutting it off completely.

Be as Engaged as Possible

Try to attend all company get-togethers and team-building events. You should never turn down a lunch or other type of meeting with a superior. For this reason, you may want to eschew preparing a lunch or designating a place to eat on your first few days.

Listening to what others have to say is extremely important. Don’t come in on your first day in the workplace with a rigid attitude— in other words, stay open-minded. Make sure to take notes whenever you’re told something important.

You’ll want to take note of any goals that your boss highlights, either for himself or the company as a whole. These goals can pertain to department-oriented goals and prioritized projects.

Make sure to pay attention to the firm’s decision-making processes. Some firms will make reactionary decisions after an event occurs, which is known as an ad-hoc approach. Other firms will make decisions before the fact, known as ex-ante. Being familiar with how the company operates allows you to adapt your style as you see fit from the get-go.

Be Yourself

If you take no other advice, just remember to be yourself. Don’t project yourself to be someone who you aren’t, as your true colors will show in the long-term.

Should you feel uncomfortable initially being yourself in the workplace, you can use psychological tricks to quell your nerves. For example, you can imagine you’re in a more familiar environment, such as at home or your favorite venue.

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