Dos and Don’ts For a Successful First Day on the Job

We tend to concentrate on interviewing for a job – what to do, what to ask, and what to avoid. After you nail the interview and get the job, however, comes the first day. This is your chance to set the tone for your entire tenure of employment. Don’t underestimate its potential impact. Here are some important dos and don’ts for a successful first few days.


  • Your A-game
  • Positive attitude
  • Patience

You were hired because your skills fit a need within the company. A piece is missing from their jigsaw puzzle and they are investing time and money in you, hoping you are the one that fits. Come ready to be that missing piece — both in skill and attitude. It might take a while to learn just how you fit in the puzzle, so don’t expect to complete it the first day.

Don’t Bring

  • Your problems and bad habits

Everyone has baggage. Everyone has nagging problems or bad habits that follow them around. Do not bring them to your new job. Leave them behind.

  • Often late? Do a few practice runs of your new morning commute. Time yourself and then add a 20 minute buffer.
  • Have trouble staying on task? Remove distractions. Delete that game you’ve been playing on your phone. Disengage from social media. Record the TV show you like and watch it on the weekend.
  • Easily frustrated? Do something difficult and notice when you get frustrated. Work out a strategy to calm down, maybe a key word or phrase you can say to yourself.

There’s a good chance you know your weak points. They’ve probably been pointed out to you before. It’s time to own them and make a change before you start your new job, even if it’s uncomfortable. You will be much more successful if you do.

Ask About

  • The company’s short and long term goals
  • Your team’s short and long term goals
  • What your priorities should be

During the interview process, you should have gotten a good idea of the company’s three-month or six-month goals. If it isn’t clear, find out on or before your first day how you fit into those goals.

As with anything, you are far more apt to meet or exceed expectations if you know what they are, says Rebekah Villega, a human resources expert at Professional Diversity Network and the affiliated job placement firm Noble Voice. Know what to do before you start doing anything. If you don’t know, there’s a chance you’ll be rowing in the wrong direction.


Don’t Ask

  • When you’ll get a raise
  • When you’ll be promoted
  • Why you have to do a task

Don’t get ahead of yourself trying to advance before you’ve found your place. A raise comes to someone who has been a star employee over a long term. Promotions are for people ready to take on more responsibility. Neither can be expected for a year or more at most companies.

“These both will come in time once you have proven yourself,” Villega says. “If you mention more money right away, it can give the impression that you just wanted your role as a stepping stone to something better. Managers like to see employees who are driven and motivated to excel.” Timing is everything. Be patient.

Smooth Change

  • Be flexible to new ways of doing things
  • Try things first before suggesting something different
  • Don’t get upset

There’s a fine line between being a newcomer suggesting change and being someone averse to change. The key is to be flexible and open to change. Don’t assume that the way your old company did things is the best way to do them; it is only one of many ways.

That said, don’t be afraid to offer suggestions. Sometimes a view from outside is a helpful perspective. “But don’t be upset if it is not accepted right away or at all,” Villega said. “Change can be very difficult to incorporate and to accept.”

Team Player

  • Add value to your team
  • Learn how things are done
  • Share opinions when appropriate

Above all, be a team player and take the time to learn the ins and outs of the business. If you have a great idea that will save money or time, feel free to share it with management. The worst that can happen is that they will say no. Either way, it will show initiative on your end.

Your goal at this point is to be the best fitting piece in that puzzle you can be. You are taking time to learn the big picture and the little contours. Get these tips downloaded in your head and carry them to your first day at the new job, and then you’ll be ready to shine.

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