Starting a new job in style: the art of a great first impression

Starting a new job in style: the art of a great first impression

March 3, 2022

handshake first impression

You’ve officially done it. You applied for the job, went through the arduous hiring process, and you’ve come out the other end successful. You’ve signed your new contract and bid your old job farewell. The hard part is over. Now, all you have to do is waltz into your new office on day one, armed with confidence, and you’re guaranteed to be a hit. Right?

If only it were that easy. As exciting as a fresh start can be, beginning a new job is often quite a daunting experience. Many of us have undoubtedly suffered through that dreaded sleepless night before the big first day; you toss and turn, the hours crawling by, as your mind whirrs away at a hundred miles per hour.

Whilst it’s completely normal to experience these first day jitters, there are proven ways you can reduce your anxiety in the build-up to a new job. Ensure that you’re making the best possible first impression by following these basic principles during the early stages in your new role.

Come prepared

There are steps you can take before even stepping foot in the office to make sure you’re as prepared as possible for your new job.

Create a positive first impression by asking your new boss if there’s any way you can prepare in the lead up to your future role. Instead of twiddling your thumbs and worrying about anything you could be doing to stand you in good stead, be proactive and lay the groundwork for future success.

Ask your boss whether there’s any company material or resources you can get your hands on beforehand. Or, ask if there are any tools or processes you should become familiar with before getting started on the job. However, the key is not to overdo it. You don’t want to come across as a nuisance, pestering your boss before you’ve even begun. Show willing, but don’t be pushy.

Just remember: the more prepared you feel beforehand, the less you feel like you’re diving head-first into the unknown.

Look the part

So, the day has finally come. Your new job begins today. You hop out of bed and fling open your wardrobe doors: a whole new wave of anxiety washes over you as you ruminate over what to wear.

There’s an easy way you can steer clear of this dilemma. Have a clear sense in mind of the dress code by researching it beforehand. And if your research proves fruitless, then it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

To make sure that the morning of your first day at work runs smoothly, choose your outfit the evening before and lay it out ready for the day ahead. This will help you avoid any unnecessary stress that would otherwise cloud your morning.

Don’t underestimate the power of a smart work outfit. Research by Princeton psychologists Alexander Todorov and Janine Willis concluded that people form a first impression in just a tenth of a second; so, appearances really do count. Choose clothes for work that you feel outwardly express your best qualities; an outfit speaks a thousand words.

office team meeting

The way you dress at work, especially in the early days, can have an impact on your performance as well. Subconsciously, dressing well and putting an effort into your appearance can make you feel more prepared and motivated for the day ahead. What you wear can have psychological implications; one study conducted by Northwestern University found that people performed better on a test when they wore a scientist’s white lab coat.

Arrive bright and early

To really ensure that you’re making that positive first impression from the very beginning, be sure to arrive early on your first day (and for the rest of your first week). When it comes to starting a new job, it’s an unspoken rule that arriving on time is the same as arriving late. Arriving early gives you a chance to gauge the lay of the land; to assess your surroundings before you’re bombarded by a sea of co-workers, which can be quite overwhelming. It’s wise to be one of the first people in the office so that you can meet your colleagues gradually rather than all at once.

Be eager to learn

Throughout the working day, do not shy away from asking questions. Pretending to know the answers to everything is a pointless endeavour, and it’s likely that those around you will respect you more for asking for help when you need it. In these initial stages of your new job, you have every right to establish exactly what’s expected of you and inquire when you face uncertainty.

notebook asking questions

However, make sure that the questions you’re posing actually add value to what you’re doing. You don’t want to ask questions for the sake of it, just to come across as keen and willing. If you’re confronted with a difficulty, the early stage of your job is the time to address it, but overbearing your colleagues with superficial questions can be transparent and bothersome.

Make sure to demonstrate that you’re actively absorbing helpful information that your colleagues give to you. Bring a notebook along during your first week to quickly jot down any useful snippets of information when you hear them. However, avoid using the Notes app on your phone to do this; regardless of how good your intentions may be, having your face glued to your phone can have a negative impact on your co-workers’ perception of you.

Being eager to learn also means being open to new ways of doing things. No matter how used to a certain routine you may be, avoid harping on about the superiority of old methodologies at your previous companies; be open-minded to new teachings, as you could learn a thing or two.

Get to know your colleagues

A great way to truly make a positive impression is by making a genuine effort to immerse yourself in your new team. During your lunch break, actively try to get to know your co-workers. Whilst trying to impress your boss is all well and good, creating a positive impression amongst your co-workers is what will ultimately make your transition into a new career as seamless as possible.

There’s one crucial thing to keep in mind, however. Be cautious that whilst you’re getting to know your colleagues, you remain professional throughout. Avoid engaging in petty office drama, as you don’t want to gain a negative reputation as a gossip. These early days are crucial in cultivating a positive impression. So, leave your personal problems outside of the office space and remain professional in your interaction with colleagues.

Have a gameplan

Use your first few weeks in a new job wisely. Now is this time to formulate a long-term plan. A good starting point is creating a 90-day plan, with clear goals and tasks that will get you to where you want to be. Use the early days to lay the foundations for long-term success, mapping out your path for the future.

playing chess

Ultimately, there’s a crucial thing to keep in mind when starting a new job to keep the nerves at bay. Remember that this company already likes you. They chose to hire you, meaning that they saw your potential and envisaged you thriving at their company. All you need to do now is prove them right by bringing the best version of yourself to the table.



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