I, Jennifer Maas, have a new job.
Oh? Thank you! I’m excited too. It’s gonna be great. Lot’s of grown-up points to be awarded on a daily basis in an office environment I’m sure. I should figure out who is in charge of distributing those…
Let’s see, I start next Tuesday, which is great because I still have a week to prepare myself. Why would I need an entire week to prepare myself to simply start a job for which I have no actual work yet?
Well, really, I’d usually prefer a week to prepare to do almost anything. I do a lot of research into everything I do.
So, for a situation like starting my first job in a new city, I’m really excited to have nothing but time to research this week. What am I researching in particular you may still be wondering? Oh, how to not mess up.
You see there are all these lists of all the things you should do to make a good first impression at a new job. I have found plenty of those. And then there is the stuff you already know by just having survived this long in school/internships/life.
But not a lot of lists entitled, “If You Do This On Your First Day You Might As Well Just Leave.” And I really would work better off the latter.
So I made one myself. For me really, but you can look at it too I guess.
15 Things You Should Not Do On Your First Day At A New Job
1. Get there on time.
What? Jenny, you’re crazy. I should not get there on time?
Yes! You should not get there on time. You see getting there on time seems like the right thing to do. But if you set out to get there on time, you could be late. And you never, ever wanna be late on your first day of anything, let alone something people are paying you to do.
So get there early. But not too early, because they may not be ready for you and you don’t want to be inconveniencing anyone right off the bat.
2. Say, “Nope,” when they ask, “Do you have any questions?”
Really? You have no questions? None? Your all set? Lies!
You have thousands of questions! This is your first day, you don’t know anything. And now is the time to ask them. Don’t feel like you are going to look inexperienced and young if you need to ask how something works or who to see about what.
It’s your first day, no one in your position would know everything.
Furthermore, if you don’t ask questions you will regret it later when you have been working there a month and your question is something you should have, you guessed it, learned on your first day.
3. Be unable to introduce yourself in under 30 seconds.
You are going to be asked a variation of the “Tell me about yourself” question by everyone you meet that day. So it is a really good idea to have a solid, confident, and quick answer to that. Why?
First, you’ll be telling it over and over again so it is nice to have something prepared.
Second, if you fumble around to answer (“Well, I just graduated from college and I didn’t know what I wanted to do quite yet so I’m just working on getting my stuff together and looking at all the opportunities that…), people will be confused about who you are because you seem confused about it. And that’s off-putting.
Lastly, they are probably going to have to relearn what you tell them today once they really get to know you, so it’s good to keep it short, but toss in the relevant information.
4. Neglect to bring your “documents.”
You are going to have to fill out paperwork. And you will be on HR’s good side if you can fill it all out the first day. But in order to do that, you need to make sure you brought all your “documents.”
Every job will tell you what you need, but for the most part you’ll need certain forms of ID (driver’s license, passport, social security card, proof of residency) and documents specific to your job (proof of auto insurance if you need to drive to complete work related assignments).
You can take a few days to fill things out sure. But by bringing these documents and getting it done the first day, you will make everyone else’s life easier.
It will also get you things like your ID badge, your parking pass, and, oh, your first paycheck, faster.
5. Wait to figure out the office hierarchy/politics.
You need to know who your boss is, obviously. But you also need to know what you need to go to them for, and what you are supposed to go to a different person for.
And who handles what task. And who has time to teach you how to do this. And who you should wait to meet until they have a chance. And who is the Olivia Pope of the office.
All of these things should not be put off until you actually need them. Find Olivia now!
6. Forget to smile.
Like normal. Like how your face looks when you are interested in something. Because while you may be totally paying attention to what your supervisor is saying and totally interested, you will seem uninterested and unengaged if you don’t give the corresponding facial queues.
Don’t be that person, cause we know that’s not you.
But don’t force it in a crazy way. Cause that’s not a great impression either.
7. Stray from the dress code.
This is not the day to try your new bold lipstick. Or to wear your Converse with your suit because, that’s how you do.
No. I guarantee you, your office has a dress code (just call the HR department if you aren’t sure what it is). And you need to follow it more conservatively on your first day than any other, because you are showing them that you respect their business and the position they have given you within it.
And you will not be taken seriously if you don’t respect this basic rule.
8. Try to be “funny” or “cool.”
I’m sure your hilarious. I’m hilarious. We’re all hilarious…to the people who know us. Your friends and family get you and your humor and that is because they have known you longer than a day.
But you know that person, who the first time you meet them, instantly wants to be the funniest, coolest person in the room? Ya, they are the worst. You don’t want to be that person in your office.
If you make a joke with your friends and it doesn’t take, they will write it off as your normal weird. If you make a joke on your first day at a new job and it doesn’t take, they will just write you off as weird.
Save the awesomeness that is you in its entirety for later on.
And don’t waste perfectly good jokes that will be funny later.
9. Forget to listen. Really listen.
So many things are going to be said to you on your first day that there is no way to remember them all. But you need to actually listen to everything that is being said. Because if you truly listen you will at least get the essential things verbatim and be able to paraphrase others for your notes.
10. Write nothing down.
Yes! You need to take notes. The listening there will come in super handy when you get back to your new desk and have a minute to jot down the procedure for sending a memo and the key code to a supply room.
Take as many notes as you like on anything that you would like to remember, no one is grading them. This is for your own benefit because remembering as much as possible, without having to ask again later, is going to make you more professional from the start.
11. Ignore your peers.
You are unlikely to have time to get to know the people you will actually be working with on your first day. That’s just because the nature of first day’s lend themselves to a schedule full of forms, tours, training, and things that normally involve many departments and supervisors you might not see again.
But do take the time to at least introduce yourself to all your peers the first day and let them know you are excited to be there and working with them. And if any of them invite you to lunch or to go beyond the “Tell me about yourself” question in a conversation, take them up on their offer. They are reaching out early and that’s good.
12. Ignore the “rules.”
There are explicit rules about what you can and cannot do at work and then there are the implicit. But if you break an “implied” rule, it’s gonna hurt your reputation with your superiors just as much as if you broke a “real” rule.
Learn quickly what is “frowned” upon, as it is equally as important as what is “forbidden.” A great place to learn this stuff is from your peers.
13. Ask, “I’m sorry, what’s your name again?” more than once.
People are going to cut you a break with the name game on the first day, because it’s a new job where you don’t know anyone.
But it is only gonna be okay to ask someone their name for so long, as you can probably remember a time when a classmate/professor/family member, refused to learn your name. At a certain point it is just seen as disrespectful, like they don’t matter enough for you to learn it.
So while you are taking your notes, make a section for names and corresponding job titles/descriptions to help you match the name to the person.
They will also be very honored when you already have their name down the second time you speak.
14. Forget to ask where the nearest bathroom, supply closet, and coffee are located.
Generally, someone will point all of these out to you on a tour of the whole office. But what you really care about are where the ones closest to your desk are. And if you didn’t remember where your desk was in relation to everything you just saw, you are going to need to double check.
This falls under the questions you need to ask today. Because if you don’t ask where the nearest bathroom is until Friday, people might find that odd.
15. Text. At all. At all.
“Millennials are the worst! They are ungrateful and impolite and they never stop texting.”
I hate that. Don’t you hate that? And it’s totally untrue. Except if someone sees you texting on your first day you are pretty much person non grata until you have proven yourself an adult again.
And you shouldn’t have to prove your an adult, because you are an adult. But you were texting. So now you seem like a child. You see the problem there?
So just don’t do it. At least for your first day, okay? For me. For all “millennials” who want to make a good impression, make it easier for them.
That is all the advice I have surmised on the matter today. I’m sure I’ll have a list of things I wish I didn’t do once I actually start work. Hey, I’ll put the list in my notes for your guys!
Sidenote: “Millennials” is just about the worst word in the history of the world. It makes me wanna gag. They couldn’t have picked a jerkier name for our generation. Thanks, guys.