Play your cards right on your first day at a new job and you'll be sure to make a great impression.

You got the call, negotiated a salary, and finally landed the job you've been trying to nail down — congratulations! This is the time for optimism and excitement; after all, this could be the job that truly launches your career.

That means it's time to get focused and make the most of this opportunity right out of the gate. Your very first day of work is crucial — your first impression can set the tone for how your boss and your co-workers see you. It's a lot, we know, but don't stress! Just get yourself ready to rock the first day of your new job with these simple tips. 

Dress the part

When planning your first day of work outfit, your first stop should be the company website and social media pages. Is your new company business casual or business formal? Maybe this company is more laid back and jeans are the norm. Whatever you see, you want to dress accordingly to ensure that your outfit is appropriate for your new job. If you have any doubts, always err on the side of formal when choosing your ensemble for your first day of work. You'd rather be a little too dressy than too casual. 

Plan your commute

This one simple step can save you a lot of embarrassment and help you make a good first impression. One of the smartest things to do before starting a new job is to map out the best route to your new workplace in advance. Pay attention to how much traffic is on your route during the morning commute. If you really want to be safe, get up one morning and give it a test run. However long your commute will take you, leave at least 10 minutes early on your first real day of work. Showing up a little early is OK, but being late on day one starts things off on the wrong foot in a big way. If you need a little help, there are lots of great phone apps to make your commute a little easier.

Be ready to work … or not

Our best new-job advice: Be ready for anything! Some supervisors like to start out new hires by throwing them into the fire. If that ends up being the case, be ready to jump in and show your stuff. Ask questions, but don't be afraid to do some problem solving on your own. The type of boss that likes to start things off that quickly usually wants to see how well you can handle yourself on the fly.

On the flip side, it could also happen that your new company hands you a bunch of orientation materials and then leaves you alone. Before your first day of work, think about what kinds of things you want to know about your new job and company. Chances are the answers are in those orientation materials.

Ask a lot of questions 

There is a lot to learn as a new hire. From how to do your job effectively to how the organization works, it's natural to feel overwhelmed with all this new information you are expected to retain. Don't be afraid to ask questions to gain clarity when you need it. It's better to get the information you need to handle things correctly than to learn the hard way that you're doing something wrong. No one expects you to be a pro when you are new to a job, and no one expects you to know everything about the organization right away either. Chances are that others have similar questions as you, so don't be afraid to ask.  

At the same time, show initiative by doing your own research before you begin commenting or making suggestions that might be interpreted as not understanding your position or the organization. If you've been provided answers to questions, be sure to listen so you don't have to ask the same questions over and over again, as well.

Be friendly

Being friendly is one of the best, and easiest, ways to make a good impression at a new job. As opportunities arise throughout the day to talk to people, do so. They'll likely ask you about yourself, but be sure to also ask about them as well. Have your 30-second elevator pitch ready, but after that, shift the focus off of you. Get to know what they do and what they like. Asking questions about the person you're talking to makes you instantly more likable than the person who just wants to talk about themselves. Also, smile as much as you can (without faking it) to show your co-workers that you're excited to meet them. 

Related: 5 Tips for Making Friends at Work

Remember names

This piece of new-job advice can be tricky. You'll likely be meeting a lot of people throughout your first day of work, and while remembering names is easy for some, for others it's a real struggle. When you are introduced to someone new, focus on their words. When they say their name, repeat it to yourself several times in your head. If you are one of those people who struggles with names, there are lots of little tricks out there to help you get better at remembering. See if you can find a technique that works for you.

Accept that lunch invitation

If you're lucky, your boss or some co-workers will invite you to go to lunch on your first day of work. This tip for starting a new job is a no-brainer — go! Lunch is a great opportunity to converse in a more casual setting, learn more about the people you are eating with, and possibly get an inside look into how the office works. If the conversation turns toward office gossip, do not engage. Pay attention to who does the most talking and make a note of it. Ask plenty of questions. This is a great time to get to know your new co-workers beyond their job descriptions.

That said, you may want to bring a lunch just in case it's expected that you don't leave for your afternoon meal. Just be willing to let it go or save it for tomorrow if you do get that invite.

Know the company's recent successes

Educate yourself ahead of time by conducting some research to familiarize yourself with what this company does well and what projects have been recent successes. You may have done this to wow them during your interview, but it's still good information for when you are introduced to new people and worth refreshing. Perhaps you'll meet one of the individuals who was named as a key player. Giving quick kudos and asking smart questions about their project will impress them quickly. Who doesn't like recognition for their well-earned achievements?

Find out who you'll be working with the most

As you meet people throughout your first day at work, try to discern who is going to become a part of your daily life at the company and who may be less involved in your work. Then, make an extra effort to get to know the former. Ask questions so you're sure that you understand exactly what they do and how their role connects with yours. By doing this, you can eliminate embarrassing job-role mistakes right away. Getting off on the right foot with team members can help set the right tone for your new job moving forward.

Your first day at your new job should be exciting — not frightening. As long as you're prepared with a plan going in, you'll do great. Remember, every office task is an opportunity to learn, grow, and represent yourself in a positive light. If all goes well, the people you meet on your first day could be the people you'll work with for years to come. Start things off on the right foot by having a plan and expecting the best.

Before you can impress at your new job, you need to get the offer. Get a free resume critique to see how you stack up against the competition!

Recommended Reading:

Related Articles: