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First day of work: Tips & checklist for starting work

Regardless of whether you are changing your job or just starting your professional life, there is still one hurdle to overcome after the application and selection process: the first day at the new company. First of all: a certain nervousness is completely normal. Sure, you've convinced your new boss of your qualities and prevailed over other applicants in the application process, but you may never have seen your new colleagues. And that's not the only thing waiting for you that day. The tips for the first day of work show what is important when starting work and how you can make your debut ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Start of work: The greatest expectations

Work processes, structures, organization ... Even many years of professional experience do not protect against a certain uncertainty that creeps in on every first day. And something else is part of starting work: high expectations. On both sides.

Own expectations

You want to do everything right from the start. Of course, you want to show that you were and are the right choice for this position. You also expect a lot from your new employer. The three biggest expectations are usually:

  • contacts
    Many beginners would like to become part of the team from day one and get to know many colleagues. Social acceptance plays a major role in this. Nobody wants to feel left out.
  • impression
    Don't make a mistake on the first day of work! Nobody wants to embarrass themselves, especially at the beginning. After all, it's about the first impression. So there is a touch of perfectionism in the air to impress the new environment as much as possible.
  • training
    In order to get to know the processes and new tasks, a good induction of new employees is essential. A popular path are mentoring programs, in which new employees can contact a mentor with questions or problems. Whether this tandem fits, however, will only be revealed after a few weeks.

Employer's expectations

Conversely, there are equally high expectations of you as a new employee:

  • probation
    Those who hired you also have a reputation to lose and want to see that you are the right choice.
  • chemistry
    Colleagues want to know what kind of guy you are and whether you fit into the team.
  • power
    The boss, in turn, is hoping for a new top performer. In other words, a committed employee with quick comprehension as well as a steep learning curve and critical ability. Because nobody can know or can know everything at the beginning.

With all this in mind, many employees experience the first day at work as extremely stressful. We understand that. High expectations and excitement are normal.

So make yourself aware: it's only the first day! The beginning. This will be followed - hopefully - by many more days with this employer. Nothing is set in stone the same. No mistake is unforgivable. On the contrary: career starters enjoy “puppy protection” right at the beginning.

Start of work checklist: What is important on the first day

The first day is mainly about getting to know new colleagues, the workplace and the processes. Be committed. Accept all information gratefully. And don't try to turn the entire company inside out two hours after starting work (not even after two weeks). First, build trust in the team. Be cautious about comments and ask lots of questions. And - very important: smile a lot - that makes you feel good!

Tips for the first day

The most important points for starting work:

  • Punctuality. Don't come at the last minute.
  • Dress. Dress appropriately - better overdressed than underdressed.
  • To get to know. Introduce yourself and write down new names.
  • Workplace. Set up your desk.
  • Engagement. Take action on your own initiative and ask questions.
  • Training. Be grateful for hints and corrections.
  • Contacts. Use breaks to get into conversation.
  • End of working day. Thank your colleagues. Don't go too early.

Mistake on the first day

Avoid these mistakes on day one:

  • Smartphone. Social media posts and chats are a no-go on the first day of work.
  • Duzen. In the beginning you sift - until the DU is offered to you.
  • To know better. You are the new one. Get to know the store first.
  • Breaks. Take a break when your colleagues do it. And not too often.

A typical first day at work

How does a typical first day in your new job actually go? There are differences in every job, every company and every industry. But there are also a lot in common, so you don't have to jump into the deep end. Prepare for the key points that await. For example, your self-introduction in a few sentences (see "Elevator Pitch"). You will need them several times on the first day.

We have put together an exemplary daily routine for what else you can expect at the start of work:

  • 8 a.m .: start of work

    On the first day it is better to be over-punctual. But don't overdo it. Five to ten minutes are sufficient. Whether or not you will actually start on the stroke of 8 o'clock in the future is another matter. On the first day, however, it makes a good impression if you are by no means late.

  • 8:10 am: Presentation

    If the interview discussed where you will be picked up on the first day, you should of course wait there. Otherwise, stick to the people you know from the interview. At the beginning you will be confronted with a flood of new names. Make a note of the names of your new colleagues and supervisors and learn them as quickly as possible.

  • 8:35 a.m .: Workplace

    After you get to know your new colleagues, it's time to move to the new workplace. If you're at your desk, set it up right away. Are working materials missing? Then write down what is missing and ask the responsible employee about it. But avoid asking about every little thing. It's frustrating.

  • 9 a.m .: familiarization

    Your desk is set up, and you're ready to go. You will likely have some reading material to begin with. Project descriptions and reports, targets, minutes of team meetings or other documents. Everything makes sense to get started. You should actually read it. Before doing this, however, clarify who you can turn to with your questions. Basic rule: Ask urgent questions immediately, write down less important questions. Many questions are often answered through the documents or discussions with the new colleagues.

  • 9:30 a.m .: coffee break

    Use the first break to talk to your colleagues. Rule of thumb: introduce yourself briefly. And when colleagues talk about themselves: listen carefully! Of course you want to present yourself well. But if you overdo it on the first day, it doesn't seem self-confident but arrogant. You will learn a lot more by listening!

  • 9:45 a.m .: engagement

    After the coffee break, reading the documents continues. In doing so, you should not isolate yourself, but continue to be accessible to your colleagues. If one of your colleagues comes to you with a question or request, you will of course take the time and help. Otherwise: Always be active on your own and never wait for someone to give you tasks or work.

  • 11:10 a.m .: planning

    If the opportunity presents itself, you can have a quick chat with your new boss about what's going on during the day. Perhaps you will meet other colleagues in the afternoon or take part in your first meeting? But only talk to your boss about it when he has the time. Please never impose. He also has a job.

  • 12 noon: lunch break

    It is best to join the colleagues you work with directly. Go to the canteen or the preferred restaurant together and use the lunch break to socialize. Again: introduce yourself, answer questions, otherwise listen carefully.

  • 1 p.m .: work phase

    After the lunch break, you will immerse yourself in your material or do your first tasks. Perhaps you were able to clarify some questions or you noticed that you still need further documents. If you need this promptly, ask your colleagues.

  • 2 p.m .: team meeting

    Depending on which day you start your work, the first team meeting may be due. You can assume that you will be able to introduce yourself briefly in this context. Think about what you will say and how you will present yourself in advance. Otherwise, you should follow the meeting carefully and listen again. Nobody expects the galactically brilliant idea from you on the first day. So it's okay if you don't say anything either.

  • 2:50 p.m .: Documentation

    After the meeting, you should document your impressions for yourself. Ten minutes is enough. It is important that you take these notes in a timely manner so that you do not forget anything. Then the onboarding continues. The task pile should still be large.

  • 4:30 p.m .: communication

    Use the last break of the day for small talk with colleagues. Tell something private about yourself or your career to date. Most colleagues will be interested - if they don't ask about it anyway. Important: ALWAYS stay positive! In no case should you blaspheme about previous jobs.

  • 5 p.m .: Feedback

    Towards the end of the day, your boss will likely ask you how your first day of work went. Avoid criticism and focus on the positive aspects. Show where you were able to use your experience to familiarize yourself and where you still see a need for training. Nobody expects an extensive analysis from you here. But it can be more than just “running!”.

  • 5:30 p.m .: after work

    Congratulations, you have successfully completed your first day of work and entry into your job! Say goodbye to your boss and colleagues politely and thank them for their help and training. Now you can first classify and process the new impressions and stimuli in peace. And enjoy the evening. Tomorrow is also a day…

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1st December 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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