February 18, 2019

First Day on the Job: Make a Great Impression Without Coming on Too Strong


It’s your first day on the job, and you want to make a great impression on your supervisor and coworkers.

This is an understandable urge, but you must be careful. You don’t want to come on too strong — like a person wearing so much perfume or cologne you can smell them before you see them. You don’t want to be that person, metaphorically — and literally! — speaking.

The following tips will help you strike the right balance between being impressive and being arrogant on your first day at your new job. You don’t want to give anyone a reason to regret hiring you.

1. Dress to Impress

Consult your employee handbook for the office dress code. Your first day is not the time to push the limit or see what you can get away with! Dress professionally, per your industry standard and in compliance with the company’s policy. If you do not know what the dress code is and/or have not received a handbook yet, contact the HR department for clarification.

2. Maintain a Humble Attitude

Do not alienate yourself on the first day. You’re not too smart for the room. Do not be a know-it-all. Do not say things like, “At my old job, we did it this way.” You don’t want to imply your way of doing things is better and everyone else is wrong.

Instead, be willing to learn. Yes, you were hired to contribute your expertise, but you must take some time to learn how the company operates — and why it operates that way — before you can start to offer suggestions. Establish rapport with your colleagues and do your homework. Once you’ve established yourself in the company, you can start talking about opportunities for improvement.

3. Be an Active Listener

You did your research before accepting this job; you know who the experts are in the company. Let them share their expertise with you.

Active listening requires you not only hear what others are saying, but also observe their body language to get a full understanding of their message. Listen to what people have to say without interrupting or pushing back. Be very cognizant of your own facial expressions and body language, too. If you notice negative or hostile body language from someone, check yourself to make sure you are not sending off your own negative vibes.

4. Take Notes

Show your employer you are eager to learn. Carry a notebook and pen everywhere to jot down notes about processes and policies, the names of people you meet and their departments, computer login instructions, etc. I recommend you carry a notebook instead of taking notes in your phone; you do not want anyone to get the impression you are scrolling through Facebook instead of paying attention.

5. Reflect

At the end of the day, review your notes and reflect on how the day went. You’re likely to feel both overwhelmed and excited at this moment, and that’s totally normal. Celebrate what went well and identify what you wish you had done differently. Make a list of any lingering questions you may have to ask your supervisor or research on your own.

The first day at a new job — heck, even the first year! — can be exhausting. There are a lot of ropes to learn and brand-new surroundings to get used to. Embrace the change and stay open to learning new things about your job, your company, and even yourself. And don’t forget to keep track of the new duties and skills you learn along the way so you can add them to your resume and LinkedIn profile!

Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.

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Jaynine is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation. She has served as a guest expert for the Huffington Post and has been quoted in Military Times and USAA magazine. Her Pinterest board for job hunting and interviewing was listed as one of the top 100 Pinterest boards for job hunting. Jaynine's no-nonsense approach to job hunting and gift for resume writing have helped clients get the phone ringing within 20 minutes of creating a LinkedIn profile, within seven minutes of faxing a resume, and within 40 minutes of posting a resume online. Her resumes and career strategies help clients get jobs and promotions.