17 tips for starting a new job

Whether you’re new to your career or a seasoned professional, starting a new job can be equally exciting and nerve-wracking. You could be psyched about the opportunity, but there are still new people to meet, a new boss to impress and a new workplace to adjust to. 

Luckily, a little preparation can help you make a good first impression and hit the ground running in your new role. Check out these 17 tips for successfully navigating your first day, your first week and your first 90 days in your new role.

Key takeaways

  • Research your new company and colleagues, and review your job description, prior to your first day of work. Use this information to brainstorm priority questions for your new boss and team.
  • Ask questions, take notes, familiarize yourself with your office culture and introduce yourself to your colleagues during your first week to adjust to your environment more quickly.
  • Seek out learning opportunities, ask for feedback and start building relationships to maximize your impact in your first 90 days.
A man picks out a striped shirt to wear for his first day at a new job.

Preparing for the first day

Simple preparation leading up to your first day of work can help you avoid rookie mistakes and start off strong. Below are a few tips to set you up for success on Day 1.

1. Plan your outfit

Try to be mindful of the setting and company culture when choosing your first-day outfit. For example, you may feel overdressed if you show up to a creative startup in a suit, where your coworkers are wearing T-shirts and jeans. That said, if you’re unsure, it might be best to err on the cautious side by selecting business professional or business casual attire. Pick your outfit the night before to save time and ensure your clothes fit well and are wrinkle-free. If you don’t know the company dress code, it doesn’t hurt to ask the human resources (HR) department directly.

2. Conduct your research

Give yourself a quick refresher on your new company, plus your job description. Check out the company website and social media for insight into the workplace culture. Consider connecting on social media with any colleagues you’ve already met. As you review your role responsibilities, think of what and who you’ll need to know to help you succeed. 

3. Do a test run

If you’ll be commuting, think about arriving early to account for things like unexpected traffic delays. Check online navigation tools for several routes to the office, using the “depart by” and “arrive by” functions to get a sense of the overall commute time. If you’ll be working from home, take time to set up a comfortable remote workspace. 

4. Confirm the details

Do you know where to park? Is there anything you need to bring with you on your first day? If not, don’t panic—you’re not expected to know everything as a new hire. Jot down any questions you have and confirm key details with HR, your new boss or colleagues. They’ll probably be very supportive and happy to help you.

Two women shake hands in an office as they meet for the first time.

What to do on the first day

During your first day on the job, you’ll likely focus on learning your way around the office and meeting your new colleagues. Consider the following tips to help build momentum and finish the first day on a high note.

5. Introduce yourself to your new teammates

One way to make a positive first impression is to introduce yourself to your new colleagues, rather than waiting on them to initiate conversation. This gesture sends the message that you’re eager to get to know your team. Use anything you’ve already learned about them as conversation starters: You might’ve noticed a mutual friend or alma mater on their social media profile. You could also ask about their experience with the company, or jobs they had before moving into their current role. 

6. Take notes

The first day of a new job can feel like information overload. Bring a notebook with you to orientations, training activities and meetings, and take lots of notes. Having these to reference later can help you learn more quickly, retain information better and show that you’re an attentive listener. 

7. Get familiar with the office

If you’ll be working in an office, take some time to learn the lay of the land. Walk around the building or campus, noting key locations, such as:

  • Where each department sits
  • Where the staff eats lunch
  • Where meetings are held

Don’t hesitate to ask others to help you navigate—this could be a great opportunity to strike up a conversation.

If you’re working remotely, familiarize yourself with the company culture through conversations with your teammates. Use any downtime to ensure you have the proper technology and tools to succeed in your role. 

8. Be flexible in your lunch plans

A packed lunch is nice to have, but lunchtime can be a great opportunity to socialize with your new peers. If you get invited to lunch, it might be worth saving the packed lunch for Day 2 and taking the opportunity to get to know your coworkers in a more casual environment. And who knows? Maybe your new boss will pick up the tab.

9. Be yourself

It can be hard to be yourself in a new environment, especially in a professional setting. But getting to know people beyond the work they do can help find common ground. You don't have to overshare: Ask about hobbies, weekend plans, pets and family. Consider setting up meet-and-greets, then regular check-ins, with teammates. Your effort will likely be appreciated, helping you form deeper work relationships.

One man and two women sit down to review and discuss documents in an office.

Tips for the first week at a new job

Your first week on the job can be a whirlwind. Read on for an overview of what to expect, advice on tackling Week 1 and tips for decompressing when you’re off the clock.

10. Fill out your paperwork with HR

You’ll probably have to fill out paperwork, like benefit forms, direct deposit and tax withholding documents, in your first week. If it’s offered, you also might want to set up your 401(k). If not, there may be other retirement plans to consider. Connect with HR to review any questions, and fill these forms out ASAP to avoid issues.

11. Ask questions 

You’re expected to have lots of questions during your first few months at a job—take advantage of that. Make a conscious effort to ask thoughtful questions. For example, you could ask your boss about their communication preferences or what hard skills and soft skills you should start working on. These types of questions show interest, engagement and a commitment to learning.

12. Take time to relax after work

Don’t let a busy first week prevent you from practicing self-care. Make time for your favorite calming activities or adopt new ones, such as exercising, reading, creating art, or simply going to bed early. Continuing these habits indefinitely can promote a good work-life balance and help you avoid burnout.

Two women sit together in an office, while one speaks and the other listens and smiles.

The first 90 days

In your first 90 days of work, it’s crucial to build on the momentum you’ve achieved thus far. Here are some pointers for maximizing your first three months.

13. Seek out learning opportunities

Don’t wait for learning opportunities to come knocking—seek them out. Research classes and certifications to expand your skills. If you see opportunities to shadow a colleague to learn something new, don’t hesitate to ask them. A growth mindset can help with career advancement.

14. Build relationships

Hopefully, you’ve formed bonds with some of your teammates over the first few months. Remember: All relationships require effort to grow and maintain. Continue regular check-ins with your colleagues to talk about life outside of work. Jot down personal tidbits from chats. You can reference notes during future conversations, showing genuine interest and engagement.

15. Show initiative

Become an asset to your team during the first few months in your role by taking initiative whenever possible. For example:

  • Be proactive: Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do. Look for ways to help and take on tasks without being asked.
  • Ask questions: Show interest in learning about the company’s overall goals, and think of how you can contribute to them.
  • Offer ideas: If you notice something that could be improved, big or small, suggest a solution.
  • Take ownership: When given a task, take ownership of it and see it through to completion.
  • Be a team player: Offer to help your colleagues when they need it, and try to make notable contributions to projects.

16. Accept feedback

Constructive feedback can be vital to advancing your career. Show your new supervisor you’re eager to learn by consistently asking for feedback, and quickly taking any necessary steps to improve. When receiving feedback, ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand any performance gaps, and how to remediate them. Make an effort to share your own ideas for improvement during these conversations, to demonstrate your commitment to growth.

17. Be patient with yourself

Getting the hang of a new job is challenging for anyone. It might be easy to feel overwhelmed or frustrated, especially if you make a mistake. Remember that everyone around you was new in their role at one point, too. Start keeping a record of your accomplishments to reference if you ever feel discouraged. Hopefully, this will help you focus on your achievements and minimize any self-doubt.

Starting a new job FAQ

Below are answers to commonly asked questions about starting a new job.

When you start a new job, the first thing you should do is check in with your boss and introduce yourself to your team. Ask your boss how you should prioritize your day and if there are any immediate tasks you should complete. Determine who will be your go-to for any questions, and show up eager to work and learn. 

While different for everyone, give yourself a few months to get settled. Depending on factors like job experience and complexity, it could even take closer to a year to acclimate to a new position. Check in with your boss to get their perspective, and don’t hesitate to ask your new colleagues in similar roles what their adjustment period was like.

Knowing when your fringe benefits will start is important to ensure you’re taking full advantage of them as soon as possible. Depending on your company’s policies, benefits could either kick in on your first day of work or a few months into your employment. Health insurance, however, must be offered to eligible employees within 90 calendar days. Review your benefits paperwork or contact your HR department to confirm key dates regarding benefits.

Starting a new job in a nutshell

Starting a new job can be intimidating, but preparation and proactivity may make the transition easier. Expanding your skills, forming relationships with your coworkers and consistently asking your boss for feedback are effective early steps you can take to start growing in your role. 

After you’ve excelled in your position for an extended period, you can start thinking about what career advancement looks like for you. That may mean asking for a raise or a promotion. 

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