Over the years, I have had the chance to work with a lot of new employees on their first day. I coordinate new employee orientation so I have witnessed the good, the bad, and the ugly. Some just nail it. They’re receptive, interested, open to new ideas. Some, well…to use an old cliché, start off on the wrong foot. I’ve seen many start a new job unprepared, disengaged, or even bringing a lousy attitude.
I recently welcomed a new employee to the organization and she did all the little things right. She was present, engaging, remembered names, and at the end of day, the team talked about how she was going to add a lot of value to the organization. And then there was the other new employee. He showed up late, holding some fresh coffee he stopped for. Hmmm…it’s more important to get your Dunkin’s than show up on time? He also forgot three documents he needed for Human Resources, saying he didn’t get the email listing what to bring. Hmmm…it’s probably not the last time he’ll uses the old “did get the email” excuse. He later spent part of a training staring at his phone. Hmmm…it’s your first day dude: you can’t even pretend that you’re checking work-related emails. Needless to say, he was practically holding red flags by the end of his first day.
Here’s how to start a new job:
Before your first day:
- Get a list from Human Resources of what you need to bring. Get everything together a few weeks beforehand in case you need to track stuff down. The list might include: resume, diploma, certificates, social security card, driver’s license, or a state issued identification card, medical paperwork, birth certificates, marriage certificate, etc. Bring copies of everything even if you think they already have it.
- Get a list of what benefits are offered and decide on what you want before you show up.
The First Day
- Show up early.
- Dress appropriately. Even if the office attire is casual, dress one level up.
- Greet everyone you meet with a smile and a handshake, and repeat their name back to them.
- You will be introduced to a lot of people. Develop a system to remember their names. Check out tips from Lifehacker on how to do it.
- Ask questions when you don’t understand something. Faking it is sometimes a good strategy, but not on your first day.
- Listen and take notes. A lot will be thrown at you, so write it down.
The First Week
- Make sure you have a clear onboarding plan. If you’re not given one, then you should build your own. Key things should include:
- Orientation to the organizational systems, policies and procedures, mission.
- Meetings with your coworkers, team leaders, boss, upper management.
- Review of your job description and ideally KRA’s (Key Results Areas) if they use them.
- Schedule of critical trainings needed.
- Job shadowing.
- Make sure you are clear on what your boss’s expectations are from you the first week, first month, and first 6 months.
Be assertive. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need, but hold off asking for that promotion for at least a few weeks.