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Starting your new job? What to do before your first day.

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Shizuo Kambayashi/AP/File

(Read caption) Office workers walk on a pedestrian crossing during a lunch break in Tokyo. Whether you will walk, bike, or drive to your new job, plan your route accordingly so you are on time for your first day.

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Starting a new job can feel like the first day of school. Sure, you're excited for this new chapter in your career, but the thought of walking into a new job with new faces and greater responsibilities might evoke fear and nervousness. Will you get along with your new coworkers? Will you be able to handle the job? Will your personality match the company's culture?

Truth is, the first day (or week) at a new job can be physically and mentally exhausting, and you won't truly know what to expect until you sit down at your desk. Even so, there are things you can do to ensure your first day is as smooth as possible.

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1. Plan Your Route a Couple Days Before

You might know the exact route to get to your new job, but given that traffic conditions can be unpredictable, especially during rush hour, it's important to plan your route perfectly.

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A couple of days before the start of your new job, do a test run of your commute to see how long it takes to get there. It's also a good idea to test your commute around the time you plan on leaving the house each day. This gives you a pretty accurate picture of traffic conditions at that time. Under normal conditions it might only take 10 minutes to get to your job, but during rush hour the commute might jump to 20 minutes.

Since you don't want to be late on your first day, it doesn't hurt to have a backup route in the event of an accident or another delay. Also, you might have a friend on standby, just in case you experience car trouble the morning of your first day and you need a ride.

2. Know the Dress Code

The first day at a new job is nerve-racking enough, so you don't need any issues that can potentially add to your nervousness or make you feel uncomfortable. Knowing the company's dress code is another way to make sure everything goes smoothly on your first day.

It can be awkward showing up in a three-piece suit while everyone else wears jeans, slacks, or a polo, and vice versa. You might be able to gauge the company's dress code during your interview, but you should always confirm this with your boss after receiving your start date.

3. Connect With New Coworkers on LinkedIn

Search for your company on LinkedIn and read the profiles of your new coworkers — and don't be afraid to connect with them. If you become familiar with their names, titles, and faces ahead of time, the first day at your new job might be less scary. It'll feel as if you already know them, and it may even reduce the amount of time it takes to learn everyone's name.

4. Practice Introducing Yourself

Some people are outgoing, talkative, and they can make friends anywhere. If this doesn't sound like you, you can practice introducing yourself and making small talk before the start of your new job.

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Depending on the size of the company, you might meet 10, 20, or 30 new people in the span of only a couple of hours. You'll likely cross paths with a coworker at the vending machine, in the elevator, and you might have lunch with coworkers on the first day. It'll be nice if you're able to say more than "nice to meet you."

Possible conversation starters might include, how long have you been with the company? What do you do here? These questions require more than a yes or no answer, and can hopefully facilitate a back-and-forth dialogue.

5. Know Which Documents to Bring With You

On the first day at a new job, you'll go through training, meet your coworkers, and you'll likely speak with human resources to fill out various employment forms. Make sure you bring the appropriate documents so you won't delay this process.

For example, your employer will need to see and make a copy of your Social Security card and government-approved ID, such as a driver's license or passport. You should also bring your bank account information if you're planning to have earnings direct deposited into your account. You'll also complete IRS form W-4 when starting a new job, so think ahead and decide the amount of taxes you want the employer to withhold from your check.


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