Starting a new job

By  headspace     |    Updated: 30th April, 2017    |    5 min read

Congratulations, you’ve got the job!

But if you’ve never had a job before, it can be quite a shock to the system getting to know what you’re supposed to do and how you’re supposed to act. Everybody knows first impressions count, and when you begin work you have an excellent – but also vital – window of opportunity. It’s a chance to start off on the right foot and build from there.

Most of your co-workers will also remember their first days only too well. Given this ready-made goodwill, the trick is not to take it for granted, or abuse it. Go in with the wrong attitude and you’ll build up almost unshakable resentment – even unreasonable resentment.

Here are few tips for getting it right:

Tips for starting the New Job Well

Be punctual and presentable

Once you settle in you can go with the flow on punctuality, dress sense and language. On your first day you need to be behaving almost as you did in your interview. Create a good impression and be excited to be there..

Ask questions

If you’re given a job, do it as well as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Better to ask a question than sit silently hoping that what you need to know will turn up.

Get a notepad

Just like at school, taking notes can help you remember important details. You can jot down any rules and ways of doing things so that you’re prepared for doing a task independently. Furthermore, write down people’s names – it helps you break through the communication barrier. It also avoids you having to ask someone else: “what’s that person’s name I was just talking to?”.


All of your new colleagues will be busy doing their own jobs. Sometimes you may feel neglected or under used. There’s no harm in asking for a job or volunteering to do something for somebody. You may be new, but your offer will demonstrate that you’re eager and proactive.

Be part of the team

Let your enthusiasm for being part of the team and the organisation show to everyone you interact with. Being a part of the set up means you want to be there and like the people you’re working with.

You are now part of a work team, and teams work together to solve problems and get the job done. That said, on your first day, don’t try to guess the group dynamics or team culture. You will learn this slowly as you become familiar with your team and get to know your colleagues. Be willing to participate.

Dressing the part

On your first day it pays to look smart. Casual dress codes are often the norm, but on your first day if you walk in looking too casual it suggests you are not taking your situation seriously.

You can dress down – or to fit the workplace style – later on. Whilst looking smart means efficient and reliable, too casual means disorganised and uncaring.

Most workers know that this is not necessarily true – but, remember, it’s still all about first impressions – and you won’t have had a chance to let everyone know how efficient you are by your actions alone. That’s why you need to look smart and professional on you big day one.

The end of the day one

You’ve made a good impression. You’ve been positive and helpful. You started the day with a smile and a willingness to do a good job, maintain this level of enthusiasm for the duration of the day.

On your first day, your manager will likely indicate when it’s time to finish, however it creates a good impression if you’re available to help right up until leaving time, and not in a hurry to leave.

And finally

As a general rule for your first day, don’t stiffen up and be fearful. You might find that you’re frowning or not smiling because you are nervous or feel intimidated. Don’t worry, you’ll meet lots of new and welcoming faces, and most people will recognise you for what you are and be helpful.

The office politics also need not concern you; you are a newcomer. It’s unlikely you’ll be treated to any adverse remarks about the company or its people, and any you may hear, you need not comment on.

When you start a new job most people are understanding that mistakes happen and honest misunderstanding is acceptable. If you make a mistake, be up front and take responsibility, your honesty will be seen as a valued trait.

On day one, you are very much a guest. Take any advice you can get and don’t offer too many opinions. It’s also a good idea not to make personal phone calls or disappear for a long lunch break. You’re subtly being looked at and evaluated even though you don’t realise it. Making a phone call to a friend for half an hour will be remembered, even if you think nobody is paying you any attention. People at work don’t always tell you what you are doing wrong.

Having said all of the above, you should enjoy your first day. Aim to be positive and you’ll be in front without even having to do too much.

Staying in the job

The next important step is to make sure you are successful and happy in your job over the long term, and are able to stay in it till you decide you want a change.

Download JobSmart – How to stay in a job (PDF, 4.6mb), which has lots of information and helpful tips to support you staying in your job.

© headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation Ltd

Also check the related topics:  

Finding and starting work Study & Work

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