First Day at Work? How To Appear Professional & Confident

first day at work

Your first day at work will be both exciting but anxious at the same time. You will have got over every hurdle to get to this point; the application, the interview, the second interview, etc and the big day has finally arrived.

It’s also a day that first impressions are made of you from co-workers so appearing professional and confident will prepare you for a long and successful career.

Here is how you can do that:

Show up early

First things first: be on time. This could arguably be the most important thing you can do on this list. The best way to get there on time on day one is to show up early. Being late creates a horrible first impression and appears very unprofessional.

Aim to get there at least 15 minutes early. This way, you’ll be able to understand traffic patterns, so you won’t be late going forward and you’re showing the employer your professionalism from day one. You should also stay a bit longer at the end of the day.

Ask questions

The first day is about learning how things operate in the workplace. The only way you can do that is by listing to what is being said to you and asking counter questions.

This shows you’re trying to demonstrate your curiosity and desire to learn. Have a list of questions handy for managers you think you might meet. Make sure you also have a contact in HR in case you have very basic inquiries before you start or on your first day. However, don’t go asking questions about everything otherwise you’ll be overdoing it.

Take lots of notes

Take notes on all the systems and rules of your new organisation on your first day at work. Attend all orientation sessions and accept any training or professional development courses that you are offered. Study your on-boarding manual, if you’re provided with one.

Nothing will get you up to speed at a new job faster. Your participation shows interest and ambition, and an eagerness to get on board fast.

Associate with the right people

This can be hard as you will end up meeting a lot of people on your first day but it’s vital you associate yourself with those that will progress your career. Social groups will have already formed, some of which will get on with management better than others. If you have aspirations of climbing the ladder, you need to be part of these groups.

It’s also important to learn the political landscape within the workplace. Power can manifest in so many different ways, it is imperative to understand who actually answers to who.

Spend the first day with your boss

As we just mentioned, you’ll be pulled this way and that on your first day by all sorts of people but at the same time, you must try to be as accessible to your boss as much as possible.

You can easily get caught up with an HR professional, various managers or co-workers or with a special assignment that keeps you from being available to the person who matters most. If you end up spending extended periods away from your manager, be sure to check in every once in a while.

Dress well

You will have got a sense of what is acceptable wear in the workplace when you had the interview. Make sure all your clothes are well pressed. The more effort you put into your appearance on the first day, you will appear far more confident and professional than if you just rolled out of bed.

If you have any doubts as to what to wear, then it’s much better to be overdressed than underdressed Even if you’re overdressed, the idea is to look understated and professional – you want to be remembered for your work and skills.

Stay away from personal issues

It can be so easy to start browsing social media or deal with other personal business while on the clock. However, on the first day, this should be avoided as much as possible.

Of course, in the case of emergencies, these can’t be helped but if you need to make a personal call for other reasons, step away from your desk. If you need to make a reservation or take care of other business online, do it quickly and discreetly.

Sophie Garrod

After graduating in journalism and media, Sophie started working as Head of Content for Find Courses. Find Courses helps people find the appropriate course for them; from apprenticeships to finance courses or HR to oil & gas courses.