6 Keys to Success for Your First Day at a New Job

by Salary.com Staff - June 4, 2019
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Finding a great job can be a challenge. But once you land that dream job, you need to realize the real challenge is still looming in the distance.

You Only Get One Chance to Make a Good First Impression

Finding a great job can be a challenge. But once you land that dream job, you need to realize the real challenge is still looming in the distance.

Sure, take a moment to pat yourself on the back and celebrate getting hired. Good for you! But if you want to lay the groundwork for short- and long-term job success, you can’t relax and become complacent.

It’s possible to get your future co-workers to take notice of you before you even start your new job. You can confirm why you were chosen for your position without stepping foot in the office. In doing so, your company will be impressed with your proactivity, and word will get around you’re a keeper.

Word travels fast about the progress of new hires. Whether it’s through formal or informal channels, your boss will receive lots of feedback about you. Give everyone a reason to sing your praises by doing these two things immediately: be job smart, and be people smart.

Here's how to accomplish that. Numbers 6, 5, and 4 relate to job smarts, while the top three are about flexing your people smart muscles.

6. Be an Information Magnet

Find out as much as possible about your job responsibilities and the workload before your first day. Ask your employer what you need to know in order to excel on your first day, week, and month on the job. Ask what you can do to help the company before you start. Show persistent curiosity and enthusiasm for your upcoming job, and let it be known you’re a team player.

5. Get the Lay of the Land

Identify your direct support and immediate teammates, and don’t be shy about reaching out to them to ask how your role impacts their daily lives. Knowing the chain of command and key players ahead of time is invaluable. Start making these important connections before day one.

4. Set & Meet Goals Quickly

Arrive on your first day armed with a set of specific goals you would like to achieve. Schedule a meeting with your boss sometime during your first week to review them and set more specific project and performance goals.

3. Observe Posture

You were hired for a reason: The company expects you’ll do your job well. But being a great worker isn’t necessarily what will distinguish you from the pack. Hopefully, all team members at your new job are good at what they do.

Your true value will be determined by your people smarts. People smarts place an emphasis on the subconscious ways we influence people and the social cues we can notice during face-to-face conversations.

This starts with observing posture. When you speak with co-workers, pay attention to their body language. If their body is turned away, they’re not interested in what you’re talking about. If they’re facing you, they’re interested. Folded arms or legs are defensive postures. Warm facial expressions and open hand gestures indicate engagement. Check out this helpful slideshow on body language and social cues.

2. Pay Attention to Distance

The closer a person stands or sits to you, the more comfortable they feel with you. Take mental notes of whom the close talkers and distant folks are. When you need help with something on your first day, count the close talkers as your allies.

1. Watch for Eye Contact

Always maintain good eye contact during conversations. Looking away shows you’re disinterested in or intimidated by the conversation, the person, or both.

On the other hand, too much eye contact isn’t always a good thing. If a superior is maintaining prolonged silent eye contact with you, it might mean that he or she is displeased about something.

Practice this kind of mindfulness — being in the moment — when speaking with people, and it will yield invaluable non-verbal information. Devoting your full attention to your co-workers will only encourage them to reciprocate this courtesy.

Keep Calm & Work On

Calm your first-day jitters by not only thinking positively, but also talking positively. The benefits of positive thinking are well-documented, but speaking with a positive spin is contagious and equally as healthy. Lower your stress level by adopting phrases or mantras you repeat to yourself when the going gets tough. Science has proven our thoughts and words directly affect neurochemicals that influence our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Now you have the full picture of how to prepare for success at your new job. This might seem like a lot to remember, but don’t let that worry you, and don’t be nervous on your first day. Keep in mind your company wants you to succeed in your new role. Good luck.

Hope You Negotiated Your Salary

Long before your first day and even before your first job interview, you should have started preparing to negotiate your starting salary.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.

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