21 Tips for Starting a New Job + Checklist

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Starting a new job? Chances are you already made a great impact on the hiring managers, but on your first day, it’s time to impress the whole team. First impressions are usually what people remember the most. In fact, 95 percent of people believe first impressions are very important. To avoid a negative first impression, show your new coworkers you’ve come prepared with everything you need to succeed, including a positive attitude.

If you prepared well for your interviews, studied the company, researched salary opportunities, and practiced for salary and signing bonus negotiations, then you went through the most difficult part of the hiring process — but now the real work begins. Your next step is to get ready for your first day on the job, and we’ve got you covered below.

Keep reading to check out our free starting a new job checklist or jump to our infographic for tips on how to nail your first week on the job.

Tasks to Complete Before Your Start Date

If you really want to make an impactful first day, you have to start preparing beforehand. A polished evening routine the night before you start your new gig can set you up for success. Here’s what to tackle before your start date:

1. Research the Commute

Taking the wrong turn and getting lost on your way somewhere is never fun, but especially on your first day at work. It’s a good idea to research your commute the night before. Figure out how you’re getting there: If you’re taking your car, do you have gas? If you’re taking public transportation, do you have the pass? Make sure to check on your map how long it takes to get there and which roads to take.

Remote job? Although your commute will likely only be from your bed to your desk, make sure your email and other necessary logins are working properly.

2. Lay Out Your Clothes

What you decide to wear will also count toward your first impression points. To avoid rifling through your closet trying to find something to wear an hour before your first day, make sure to pick your best outfit the day before. If you don’t have the right clothes, a trip to the store might be necessary to help you look your best. Looking your best and dressing professionally will help you feel confident and enhance your work performance. And don’t forget the sweater — you never know when the office will be too cold!

Remote job? Don’t skip this step and think you can wear your pajamas! Most first days at work will require you to have your camera on for introductions. Plus, it helps to feel put together, even when you’re at home.

3. Prepare Your Best Small Talk

Sick of talking about the weather during coffee breaks? To avoid talking about the same boring topics with your coworkers, make sure to have some fun and interesting things to talk about. Starting a new job will require you to make small talk with a lot of different people. Some topics you can talk about could include: your hobbies, sports you might like, favorite local places to go, or even a career podcast you listened to recently.

4. Decide Your Breakfast

Don’t forget about the most important meal of the day — breakfast! Make sure to have a plan for what you’ll make so you don’t have to think about it in the morning. Figure out if you need extra time to prepare the meal, or if you need to run to a coffee shop before. Eating a good breakfast before starting your first day at your new job will give you the energy to get through any necessary training. Planning out meals ahead of time also helps avoid decision fatigue on your first day.

5. Pack Your bag

Just like planning what outfit to wear, you don’t want to forget to bring an important document and start your first day with the wrong impression. Make a list of everything you’ll need on your first day, and don’t forget any important documents that HR or the hiring manager provided to you. We’ll dive into what to bring in the next section.

Remote job? Working from home doesn’t mean you can leave everything spread around your house — make sure to have all the things you’ll need around your desk area.

6. Set Your Alarm

This step might seem obvious, but it’s essential that you don’t overlook it. Just like for your job interviews, it is very important to show up on time for your first day on the job. Getting to work late can make a bad first impression, so make sure to set an alarm (or multiple) for a reasonable time that will allow you to get ready and be on time.

What to Bring On Your First Day of Work

Don’t wait to pack your work bag at the last minute, or you might forget something important. Here are some things you should have in your bag before starting a new job:

what to bring on your first day of work

7. Gather Required Documents

Sometimes it’s better to be over-prepared and pack extra documents since you might need something to complete your hiring process. Check your email and see if the hiring manager or HR contact noted what to bring. Make sure to have your ID, bank information, and hiring documents. To be even more prepared, you could even learn more about 401(k)s so you’re familiar with it when your employer provides you the documents.

8. Carry a Notepad and Pen

When starting a new job, you will get lots of information thrown at you throughout the day. Packing a notepad and pen and having it handy will help you remember everything you learned on your first day that you might need in the future. If you are not a pen and paper type of person, you can write things down on your phone notes or computer — just make sure to let your boss know you are typing notes and not texting!

Remote job? You should also have a notepad and pen handy, or the notes on your computer open whenever you have Zoom meetings.

9. Pack Your Lunch

Having a packed lunch in your bag can be a quick way to eat and enjoy some resting time at work. On your first day, chances are your coworkers will invite you to eat lunch or the office will provide it. In any case, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, so make sure to have a packed lunch that you wouldn’t mind bringing home later.

Remote job? Don’t skip this step. You don’t want to take a big chunk of your lunch break preparing something to eat. Having a meal ready to go will save you time.

10. Find a Good Water Bottle

One of the many benefits of water is that it keeps you hydrated, which helps you stay energized and productive. Having a good water bottle with you will save you trips to the water fountain at work.

Remote job? Make sure to keep a water bottle with you as well — too many trips to the kitchen might make you lose focus on your first day. Just be careful not to spill anything on your computer.

11. Learn About Your Position

As a new hire, they won’t expect you to know everything. Instead, you will be learning a lot in your first weeks. Learn more about your position and what’s expected from you before your first day. In addition to that, make sure to write down any questions you have about the job. Doing so will not only impress your boss by showing initiative, but it will also help you adapt to your new workplace and tasks faster.

How to Impress on Your First Day

You got everything ready, got a good night of sleep, and have your best outfit on — now it’s time to shine. Here’s how you can impress everyone and have an amazing first day on the job.

12. Arrive Early

Like with job interviews, arriving early on your first day shows your coworkers they can expect you to be on time. Since you planned your commute and set an alarm the day before, this step shouldn’t be hard. Just plan to arrive earlier than normal in case an unexpected event occurs.

Remote job? Plan to log in early as well — that way you can prepare for any incoming emails or calls.

13. Introduce Yourself to Everyone

Being proactive and reaching out to coworkers to introduce yourself can give a great first impression. Since you planned some small talk topics, you can put those into action now. Remember to smile and give a firm handshake, and say a little bit about why you’re excited to be working with them.

Remote job? Virtual handshakes are still possible! Reach out and message any teammates saying hello and to let them know you’re there if they need anything.

14. Get to Know Your Coworkers

If you’re an extrovert, this step will be easy for you. Learning more about your coworkers will help you work well as a team, on top of making the job more fun. Ask them about the best local lunch spots and invite them to eat with you.

Remote job? Eating lunch together via video call might be a little awkward, but you can still get to know your coworkers by asking questions about where they are working from or what their favorite part about working from home is.

15. Pay Attention and Show Interest

No one likes talking to a wall, so make sure to show that you’re paying attention and are interested in what you’re learning. On your first day you will likely be going through onboarding documentation, so make sure to take note of any questions you have or even provide tips on how something needs more clarity.

Remote job? Having your camera on will let them know you are interested and paying attention.

16. Have a Positive Attitude

Don’t let the nervousness of starting a new job get to you — try to have a positive attitude throughout the whole day. Make sure to show how happy you are to be there and don’t forget to say goodbye to everyone when it’s time to leave.


Things to Accomplish in Your First Week

Consistency is key, so making sure the first impression you made on your first day holds true throughout your time with the company is important for a successful career. Here are some things to accomplish in your first week:

17. Make a Schedule

After your first day at your new job, you’ll likely start to figure out what your weekly tasks will be. Make a schedule to help you manage your time and find your preferred method for tracking your to-dos. Learning how to balance your work and personal life can be a healthy way to achieve your goals.

Remote job? Managing your time while working from home can be a little more challenging with all the extra distractions. Make this tip your priority and put away anything that can divert your attention.

18. Offer to Help

Although you will mostly be getting trained, don’t hesitate to offer to help your coworkers. Chances are you won’t have a lot of tasks to do on your first day, so offering assistance will not only help you learn the tasks faster, but it will also show that you’re present and proactive.

Remote job? You will probably be using many different online tools. If you have a coworker also starting at the job, and you already mastered how to use certain software, make sure to offer to help them use it too.

19. Be Available for Your Manager

Don’t stop at offering help just to your coworkers; your manager is there to guide you and wants to hear from you too. Keeping your manager informed or asking questions will show that you’re interested in the job and that they can count on you. Be sure to pay attention to any instructions given by your manager, since active listening helps you build connection and trust.

Remote job? Being away from your manager can make things tricky. Make sure to communicate and let them know if you’re having any issues with logging in or accessing a certain document.

20. Meet Deadlines

Proving you can meet deadlines is one of the most important tasks for anyone starting a new job. Failing to submit a project on time can give you a bad reputation and show you’re not reliable. If you are struggling with meeting your project deadlines, talk to your manager and figure out how you can manage your schedule better. Delivering your project in a timely manner not only helps the company’s productivity but yours as well.

21. Ask More Questions

Don’t hold back on asking lots of questions. Everyone knows being new to a job means you probably don’t know everything. Asking questions helps your job performance and shows that you are willing to learn.

The hiring process can be exhausting — going through long interviews, salary searches, and bonus negotiations might make you feel burned out. The last thing you want to worry about is your first day of work, since planning and preparing for it can be overwhelming. But after learning our best tips, you can use our Starting a New Job Checklist printable to ease your mind and help you get a good night of sleep before impressing everyone at your new job, or check out our infographic below.

Sources: Healthline | Choosing Therapy | The Decision Lab | Science of People | Oxford Academic | Marriott Student Review | Walden University | MedicineNet | Oxford University | Qualified Communications | Work Ethic

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