Career & Finance

Slay Your First Day: Succeeding at Your New Job

You nailed the interview, wrote flawless follow-up emails and thank you notes. Now you’re preparing for your first day on the job. While you made it through the hiring process, the first few days present a whole new set of challenges that can cause anxiety among new employees. To conquer the jitters and make a professional impression, here are ten tips to help you slay your first day.

1. Absorb Company Culture: Before you start the first day, read and absorb everything you can find about company culture. This includes social media postings, website, Glassdoor employer profile, any annual reports and printed material.

2. Conduct Discreet Due Diligence: Analyze SEC filings and financial reports. Develop a good sense of how the company operates if you are joining at the C-Suite level.

3. Leadership Team: Study any available biographies and LinkedIn profiles of the leadership team, your team and your supervisor (if known). Gain as much insight as possible into how to be a good employee and team member.

4. Arrive Early: Being on time is especially important on the first day, but arriving a few minutes early sends a clear message that you are motivated and ready to work. Take this time to familiarize yourself with your new surroundings and get comfortable.

5. Learn & Absorb: You are there to contribute to company success and make a profit for the organization. Listen 80% of the time with the goal of understanding, ask open ended questions the other 20% of the time to succeed.

6. First Impressions: Personal grooming is in order, including a hair trim (not a short cut), clean buffed nails and clean teeth. A shower goes without saying, and skip the cologne.

7. Wardrobe & Attire: Prepare your first-day outfit based on company culture AND the job you seek, not the position you were hired to fill. In addition, have your wardrobe prepared for the entire first week in advance. Polish and repair shoes and tailor, hem or repair ripped clothing. Iron, launder and dry-clean dresses, shirts and suits. Stock up on missing sundries. This doesn't require going into thousands of dollars of debt, but a polished first impression will last long after your first day.

8. Portfolio & Pen: Depending on company culture, bring both an electronic and traditional paper tablet in professional business cases. You may be ushered into a training or meeting immediately upon arrival. Avoid appearing hapless on day one with nothing for note taking. Do you want to send the message that there's nothing important the company can share with you?

9. Be Humble: Remember that as the newly-hired employee, you have a lot to learn. Ask questions and be ready to receive constructive criticism. Don’t take anything personally; instead respond to all critiques with a gracious “thank you.”

10. Say “Thank You”: Sending a quick note of gratitude to those who helped you navigate your first day puts you in contact with your new colleagues and demonstrates that you’re glad to be part of the team.


Sharon Schweitzer and Amanda Alden co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

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Cross-cultural & International Etiquette Expert, Best-selling, International Award-winning Author