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The Do's & Don'ts of Your First Day of Work

Author: Sunny Randhawa

Starting a New Job: The Dos and Don’ts of the First Day

So, you’ve done the hard work and got the job. Your time spent crafting the perfect resume and prepping for your interview has paid off, but don’t let that effort go to waste by bumbling through your first day at work. First impressions really do last; for you and your colleagues. That’s not to say that, if you make a mess of your first day, your career chances are ruined, simply that you will have to work a lot harder to regain lost ground. On the plus side, a disastrous first day can be something for you and your colleagues to laugh about in years to come….

If you don’t want to take the risk, follow our Dos and Don’ts for your first day at work.

The Dos…..

…..Be prepared

Remember all the Ps: Prior Practice and Preparation Prevent Poor Performance. This mantra can be used throughout life, including the first day of work. Prepare the day before by making sure that you know what you are wearing and everything is duly ironed, polished and cleaned, to prevent unnecessary costume dramas on the day. Don’t forget a notebook and pen or a tablet so that you can take notes.

…..Be early

Whatever time you have been told to get there, arrive at least 15 minutes early and find somewhere to linger (discreetly) outside until five minutes before the specified time. Practice your commute beforehand, so you know what to expect with regard to travel time and traffic, and when you arrive early, grab a cup of coffee and sit and reflect on the day ahead so that when you do arrive at work you are cool and calm, not hot and stressed from your commute. Five minutes early is fine, it shows that you are keen and organised, however any earlier than that could be inconvenient; remember your new manager has things to do before you arrive, and being early could interrupt their schedule.


We’ve all been there, and for lots of people the first day at work is disconcertingly like the first day of school; you are suddenly inexplicably worried that maybe they won’t like you, or you’re wearing the wrong clothes. Smile, be friendly and engaging. Preparing your elevator pitch is a good idea, so that instead of feeling tongue-tied and awkward with people, you have a rough idea of what you are going to say: just half a minute of who you are, what your new role is, and where you worked before will help to break the ice and answer the questions of curious colleagues!

The Don’ts…..

…..Turn down lunch

While it is not a good idea to assume that your new boss will take you out to lunch, it is an eventuality you should prepare for and accept graciously. Accepting the first-day lunch offer will help you to get to know your colleagues and line manager in a more relaxed environment; it also indicates to the team that you are friendly and keen to mingle with your new co-workers.

….Talk too much

The temptation on the first day can be to chatter and ask question after question. Take notes, prepare a few questions but listen and observe, too; try to strike the balance between too quiet and too chatty!


On no account should you get involved with gossip on the first day (ideally in the first month). Every office has politics and it is important that you remain apolitical until you gauge the lay of the land. The likelihood is that, if someone tries to gossip with you on the first day, they are a trouble maker or have a clash with another colleague. You don’t want to be branded with the same brush, particularly on the first day. If someone starts gossiping, gently steer the conversation onto safer ground.

….Check your phone

No matter what company policy is on the use of mobile phones at work, on your first day, keep it off (or on silent, at least). By all means, pop to the restroom and send a quick text to your friend about how your day is going, but texting or looking at your phone on your first day of work is a definite no-no. If you have an urgent situation (e.g. a sick close relative) and it is essential that you are contactable, explain this to your new manager and ask if they object to you having your phone on.

Your first say at work can be nerve-wracking, but if it doesn’t go to plan, it’s not the end of the world. Remember that YOU got the job, try to focus on why you want it, and remind yourself that you are qualified and able. Above all, be yourself and do your best to prove to your new employers that you have got what it takes to bring success to their organisation.

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