First Day on the Job—Now What? 3 Important Things to Do on Your First Day of Work
September 27, 2018
You wrote cover letters, sent out resumes, interviewed, and was offered the job. Today is your first day, you’ve been shown to your office, cubicle, or desk, and now what? Some companies make the first day easy by setting up meetings, leaving you with a stack of reports to read, etc., but others do not – they somehow expect you to start running immediately, which is unrealistic.
In looking back at my career, I have had six first days. Each one of them was different. My first job out of college, I was shown my desk, which I couldn’t even see because there were so many piles of folders and papers, all of which meant little to me. In another position, I was shown my office and the desk was clean, but I had no idea where to begin, and to make matters worse, the receptionist showed me to my office and closed the door when she left.
My best first days occurred when I did the following:
Meet with Your Boss
Your last meeting was likely a final round interview and a phone conversation when they offered you the position. Your relationship officially changes on your first day. That person, the hiring manager, is now your boss. Re-visit their priorities, their vision for the team or department, and understand how they see your role playing into their vision.
Meet with Your Team (If a Manager)
Hold a short meeting to introduce yourself and meet your team. This is your opportunity to listen and observe. It may make sense to meet individually with team members as well, especially if you’re managing a small team. Listen to their list of wants, list of frustrations, etc. You can’t, or shouldn’t, make immediate changes, but you also can’t know what direction to take without hearing from the important stakeholders.
Work with your boss to establish goals for your first week, as well as goals for your first 90-days (often a probationary period). This will help you tailor your focus.
Get Out of Your Office
Don’t sit closed-up on your office or hide behind your cubicle walls, step out and say, “Hello.” Your new co-workers not only possess a lot of valuable information, they are your colleagues and you’ll collaborate with them, laugh with them, eat with them, etc. You don’t need to wait for them to poke their head in first.
Find The Person
Make sure you connect with the person who will ensure your phone works, get you access to systems, etc. That person will be your lifeline.
It is impossible to dive right in on your first day, you may not be set up in every system you need or have the training you need, but you don’t want to sit around waiting for the wheels to start turning. It is up to you to begin that process. Even if you don’t have access to every system, you can meet people, you can begin to outline your ideas for your 90-day goals, and you can observe what is going on around you. Ultimately, you want to be actively involved on your first day as possible because it sets the tone for the many days that will follow.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Clinical Professor
Department Head of Graduate Studies