First Day

The first day in a new job can be more harrowing than the process of getting hired in the first place. Fellow employees can be harsher judges than the bosses who hired you.

Below are some tips for that first day:

  • Dress for invisibility. There’s no point intimidating fellow workers right out of the gate
  • Go with the flow. Listen, listen, then listen some more. Save your suggestions for later
  • If you listen well, you may learn that what you have to say about the place has been suggested, assessed, and discarded before your time
  • Ask intelligent questions about the work, even when you may already know the answers
  • People like to be helpful; it empowers them
  • Unless you’re asked directly, don’t offer, "We used to do it in such and such a way at ABC Construction Ltd." If you do step into this puddle, dry off your feet quickly by adding, "Your way seems a lot better," even if it isn’t
  • Unless you have a photographic memory, you won’t remember the names of everyone you meet. Don’t let this faze you. Don't apologize, it will only draw attention to your nervousness. In conversations use people’s names as often as possible. This will help you remember them more quickly. If you’re unsure, ask; this is more appreciated than addressing someone by the wrong name. The same advice holds for the titles of the many people you’ll likely meet on Day One
  • Watch the office politics, and stay out of them. You’ll quickly discover the nature of the employees' relationships. Often you’ll be told directly, by innuendo, or, if you’re really sharp, by body language
  • Every operation has its own style and pace for doing work. Some places are gung ho, others are not quite so dedicated. Pace your work to that of fellow employees. On your first day this usually isn’t too difficult because little will be asked of you beyond familiarising yourself with the job
  • The coffee and lunch breaks can be very informative. Who hangs out with who? Where do people eat? What do they eat? Another element which has shaped workplace relationships in recent years is who smokes, who doesn’t? Tread softly around that last one because both sides can be irrational about it
  • Quitting time, you’ve nearly made it through the first day without a major gaffe. Do you stop for a drink if invited? Not wise on the first day, not even if your boss invites you. Take a rain check. Remember, you’re still being tested and measured
  • Finally, you’re home. You can kick back. Have a drink, even iced tea. Have two: you got through the day. Not quite. On paper list by name all of the workers you can remember meeting. List their job titles and responsibilities to the extent you can. This will help you remember more clearly who’s who, and also give you a leg up on filling out your list on Day Two of those you don’t quite have fixed in your mind already