Settling into a new job can be a tricky process. Besides mastering new skills and responsibilities, you’ll also need to memorize the layout of your new workplace, get along with unfamiliar colleagues, and figure out how you want to advance in your new position.
Remember not to fret if you make a few mistakes during your first week on the job; instead, focus on learning from each stumble and continue building yourself up into an employee that bosses and co-workers can count on. This article discusses the following ways to prepare for a new job:
Researching your new company
Adjusting to your job’s new schedule and commute
Dressing to impress on the first day of your job
Introducing yourself to the team
Learning about the workplace and its culture
Ways to ask for and process feedback
Make sure you know what your new company does and needs
You probably learned a lot about your pending position from your first job interview, your preparations for your second interview, and the on-boarding process; still, it’s wise to do some last-minute research about your new role, your new company, and what said company expects from you.
If your new employers sent you onboarding materials, re-read them from top to bottom. Make sure you’re familiar with the company’s dress codes, professional codes of conduct, protocols for calling in sick, and your expected start date/time. Knowing simple details like these will keep you from making small, silly mistakes during your first day on the job and impress supervisors with your diligence.
Starting a new job these days also means adjusting to your company’s in-house software applications and website interfaces. Modern retail or blue collar positions often ask their employees to clock in and out using phone apps. Physical offices often use project management software to assign, upload, store, and revise work assignments. Remote workplaces use virtual chat clients for most of their workplace correspondence.
If your new career comes with a piece of software you haven’t used before, fiddle around with it and make sure you understand how to use it. If there’s a function or feature you can’t figure out, see if you can find and online or hard copy tutorial, go to a teammate or coworker for help, or email your assigned supervisor and ask more questions about the software.
Key information for starting a new job
Companies often use these project management software applications:
Many modern businesses also use the following instant messaging and video chat applications for internal correspondence:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Hangouts
- Cisco Webex
Familiarizing yourself with these popular applications in advance can help you adjust more quickly to your new company’s communication protocols.
Starting a new job: adjusting to your job’s new schedule and commute
If you don’t want to be late to your first day on the job, the solution (on paper) is simple: leave your home early enough to arrive at work early. In practice, however, all sorts of factors need to line up just right if you want to show up early to your workplace (even if you’re pursuing a modern remote work career).
First, you need to adjust your weekly schedule to fit your new working hours, be they a standard nine to five grind or odd hours in the dead of night. Adjust your sleep schedule before starting your new job. Ideally, you should get at least eight hours of sleep and still have enough time to get up, get breakfast, and freshen up before heading to work.
Next, you need to crunch numbers on the (ideal) transit time between your home and your workplace. If you’re driving a car (or bike) to work, how soon could you reach your workplace on the most direct route? If you’re taking public transit, which buses and trains would have the fewest stops?
If your workplace isn’t that far from your home, you can generally get away with departing 30 minutes before the time you absolutely need to leave. For longer commutes, you need to do more research. When driving to work, check to see how often the highways and side streets get clogged with traffic, and plot out a backup route that won’t be as jammed. If boarding public transit, look up their arrival times and try to board the bus or a subway car that comes before the vehicle you need to board.
Showing up early during your first week of work shows you new employers that you’re passionate about the new job and capable of deftly organizing your own life. Additionally, consistently showing up early will protect your reputation when the stars misalign and it’s physically impossible for you to show up to work on time. In these disaster scenarios, you can message your workplace about your transit delays, and your bosses will trust that your tardiness was beyond your control.
Being clean and dressing properly on your first way of work
Most company dress codes ask employees to abide by these three standards of personal appearance:
A nice skirt or pair of slacks with a belt
A clean, un-rumpled blouse or button-up shirt
A freshly showered body and neat, combed hair
Small businesses may let their employees dress more casually, while prestige-heavy companies such as law firms may ask their employees to don full suits. On your first day at a new job, you should always err on the side of formality, dressing as neatly as you can without standing out too much from your colleagues.
Your first-day-at-work attire should also be practical for the tasks you’re going to perform. Ditch the sports jacket and tight pants if you’re going to bend down and lift heavy objects. Wear clean and well-ironed clothes with complementary colors if you’re expected to interact with clients or make presentations in board rooms.
If you’re working remotely or trying to impress during a Zoom Interview, DON’T go the lazy route and only dress neatly from the waist up. Besides being silly, cutting corners with your attire during your first day at a remote workplace attire can make you develop bad habits when it comes to preparing for work in the morning.
Getting to know everyone in your new workplace
On your first day of work, your supervisor might introduce you to your new co-workers with ice-breaker games, group discussions, or tours through the workplace. . .or they might take a hands-off approach and tell you to mingle. Regardless, you should go the extra mile when introducing yourself to your new co-workers, presenting yourself as someone they can count on as you hope they’ll be there for you.
Memorize or write down the name of every person you meet during your first day on the job. If their name is unfamiliar, ask them if you’re pronouncing it correctly, and don’t be afraid to practice saying it out loud. In most modern workplaces, it’s also courteous to ask colleagues for their preferred pronouns (He/Him, She/Her, They/Them, or other combinations entirely).
Finally, ask them questions about their own jobs: how long they’ve worked there, what they like about the work, their long-term career goals, etc. Even if you can’t memorize everything they say, earnestly listening to their replies demonstrates your respect and desire to genuinely work with them.
On your first day of work, try to talk with your manager or immediate supervisor one-on-one. During this meeting, ask any lingering questions you have about your new job responsibilities and who you should build close working relationships with.
Feel free to ask your boss more open-ended questions about commoner beginner mistakes you should watch out for. If it seems appropriate, you can also ask casual questions about their personal interests outside of work to get to know them better.
Familiarizing yourself with your new company and its culture when you start a new job
There’s one other reason to chat up all your co-workers during your first day on the job and that’s to figure out what makes your new workplace tick.
During job interviews, job training, or follow-ups on pending job offers, managers will often talk about their company’s culture in the abstract–their ideals, their codes of conduct, and so on. To learn just how the company’s values actually work in practice, spend the first few days of your new job exploring your work-space, memorizing the company’s org chart, attending meetings, or doing anything else that seems relevant.
As you interact with your new co-workers and memorize your workplace’s layout, search for answers to questions like these:
Can employees talk casually or joke around with their bosses, or does management insist on a level of formality and distance?
Do the colleagues in your workplace seem energetic and motivated?
How often do opportunities arise for promotions, raises, or other types of career advancement?
What metrics will be used to evaluate your work performance?
Who can help out if you’re confused, overwhelmed, or stuck on some task?
Ideally, these sorts of questions should help you figure out whether your new company is actually a space you want to work in–that is to say, whether the workplace culture and/or fellow co-workers are supportive, toxic, innovative, gossipy, etc.
According to this recent CNBC article, the recent surge of employees quitting their jobs (known as the “Great Resignation”) has also led to a rise in “boomerang employees” who return to old jobs they previously quit. Roughly 43% of interviewed employees vocally regretted leaving their old jobs, while one in five had already gotten re-hired in their previous jobs.
How to ask for feedback and learn from it
As you learn and adjust to your new job, moments will arise where you’ll make mistakes: a misunderstanding, a typo, etc. Many of these mistakes are just a part of the learning process for your new role, and your supervisors won’t fault you for it. What’s important is not being complacent about your mistakes to show your superiors you’re constantly striving to improve.
One of the best ways to demonstrate your passion for self-improvement is asking your bosses for feedback.
Ask your boss what they think your greatest strength is.
Ask questions that are too broad or vague.
Ask your boss what they think you should work on improving.
Blame others for your mistakes.
Think of possible solutions to a perplexing problem, then ask your boss if they think it would work.
Ask for feedback from people who don’t understand your work.
Regularly jot down notes about procedures or facts you need to remember.
Vocally disagree with the feedback someone offers you.
Ask a question until you’ve first tried to find the answer on your own.
Before your first day at work, make sure you understand your new job responsibilities.
Plan out your daily commute and depart extra early on your first day.
Dress extra formally on your first day of work even if you’re working remotely.
Get to know your new colleagues and boss, and ask them about what they do.
Familiarize yourself with your new company’s organizational structure and observe how other employees interact with each other and their bosses.
Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback, and take lots of notes.