You’ve got a new IT job. It’s your first full-time job in the industry. You really want to do well on your first day. The first day isn’t that hard to get through. There are a few things you can do, though, to make sure it goes well, and to set yourself up for a great future with your company.
1. Make Sure You’re Well Rested
Getting a good night’s sleep the night before your first day is one of the most important things you can do before starting a new job. The body functions better when it’s well rested. Getting enough sleep the night before will ensure you’re more focused and feeling better for your first day.
The exact number of hours of sleep you should have will vary for each person. Some people are OK with six hours, some people need eight. You should get the amount of sleep that works for you. For me, seven is about right, but find whatever works for you.
You want to feel sharp and focused for your first day. One of the best ways to do this is to get enough sleep.
2. Arrive A Little Early For Your First Day Of A New IT Job
It’s a good idea to get to work early for your first day of a new IT job. This shows you’re enthusiastic, organised, and prepared. Getting there 10-15 minutes early is fine. It’s early enough to be prepared.
It’s also a good idea to consider delays to your travel as well.
You might have already visited the workplace and know how to get there, from when you had a job interview. However, getting there for work time may be a different story. Circumstances may be different. It could be a different time of day, it could be a peak period for working (e.g. not during school holidays). There are many factors that can cause you to be late to work, even though you may have been there before.
3. Dress Professionally
Just because you have the job now, and the interview is over, doesn’t mean that you can slack off on the dress code and appearance.
It’s still a good idea to dress professionally.
The interviewer should have provided you with the dress code (it’s also a good idea to ask during an interview, or after you’ve accepted the job offer). Being aware of the dress code helps when getting ready in the morning.
There’s more to looking professional than what you wear, though. Make sure you’re groomed (clean shaven or trimmed). If you’ve got a beard, that’s fine, just make sure it’s neat and not scruffy. Do your hair and make yourself look presentable. Look as though you’re going for another interview. You are, in a way. You need to impress those you’re working with on the first day.
4. Try To Remember Names Of People You Meet
This is a tough one. I’m still suggesting it though.
You’ll be meeting a lot of people on your first day. People in your team, people in other teams, your manager, their manager. It’s hard to keep track of who’s who, especially when it’s all happening so quickly and all on the first day.
It can be forgiven if you forget people’s names at the start. However, it’s better to remember them. Try to commit their name to memory when you are introduced to them. Write them down, when you get a moment. Write down everyone you meet today, as well as something about them to remember. Not embarrassing or personal, perhaps their job title or where they are sitting.
I usually try to diagram the team structure when I get introduced to the team. I write down the manager and everyone who is underneath them, as it’s usually my own team who I speak to on day one.
5. Do Your Homework
A good way to make a great impression on day one is to know about the company and what it does. Know about what the issues are, what it does to make money, who the clients or products are.
Learn about the company before you start there, so you can be more informed about the issues that it faces.
Doing research on the company is something you could have done during the interview phase, but some time may have passed since then. You should also know who the main people are, such as the CEO or founder. You might not be able to find out who the other roles are before you start, but knowing who runs the company is a good start.
6. Take Lots Of Notes
The first day of an IT job is all about meeting people and learning things.
You’ll be learning a lot about the company, about the products and services it offers, about the systems, the people, the job requirements, the team, current projects, and history.
It’s a lot to take in.
I suggest take lots of notes. Bring a pen and paper (don’t rely on them to be provided). Use these to take notes. Write everything down.
Don’t worry about the speaker feeling awkward about you taking notes. They will realise you’re taking notes and will slow down for you, in most cases. They were there once, too, so they know what it’s like to need to take a lot of notes on the first day.
You can go through your notes when you have spare time. They can also be used to come up with questions to ask and ideas.
7. Understand The Team Structure
Part of remembering who you meet is learning who is in your team.
Software professionals usually work in teams. There’s usually a team leader or a project manager involved. It’s a good idea to understand how the team structure works.
- Who’s the manager?
- What’s the team called?
- Who’s in the team?
- Do you work under a project manager, or a team leader?
- Is there a separate project manager?
- Where is the team located? Are there any team members in other locations (cities, countries)?
- Who is your manager’s manager?
Learn the structure of your team, as well as the wider team. This means everyone from your manager’s manager down.
For example, you might be a Junior Java Developer. Your manager’s title could be “Development Team Leader“, who has three other developers in his team. Their manager may be “General Manager, Billing System”, and may have several other team leaders below them such as “Support Team Leader” and “Testing Team Leader”. It’s good to know how the wider team is structured so you can do your job easier.
8. Don’t Worry If The Job Description Is A Little Different
If you’ve gotten the job and you’re expecting to do exactly what was on the ad, but there are some differences, don’t worry too much about it. Many companies tend to over-promote their description, making it sound better than it really is. They shouldn’t be flat-out lying, it just might be a little different.
In other cases, the job description may not even have been filled out by a technical person. It might have been filled out by someone in HR, or it could be a generic or old position which doesn’t quite match.
Try not to worry too much about it. You’ve got a job, you’ve been given the chance to make a good impression, and if all goes well, you’ll move on to better things in the future.
We all have to start somewhere. My first role was in application support, working on old legacy systems. It wasn’t glamourous, but I learnt a lot of things from my time there, which made it worthwhile.
9. Don’t Be Afraid To Follow Up With People
The first day of a new job can be quite frantic. A lot of things need to be organised in the company to get you to start. Sometimes it’s simple, and sometimes it’s not.
Security access passes, computer hardware and software, documentation, meetings and other files are all things that might need to be provided to you so you can do your job on the first day. Your manager, or someone else in the company, may have said they would organise a new laptop for you, or provide you with the required documentation. Some time may pass and you might not get what you need.
The best thing to do here is to follow up politely. Ask the person who mentioned it what’s happening with it, if it’s still being provided. Understand they may be busy with their work, or something else may have happened. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to follow up with them, just because you’re the new person. Take the initiative to ask them how it’s going. They may have just forgotten and would appreciate the reminder.
10. Learn Your Manager’s Style
Everybody works in different ways. The way you work could be different to your coworkers and your manager. This also depends on office culture.
A good thing to do on your first day is to find out what your managers working style is like. Do they like to come in early and leave early, or do they come in later and leave later? Do they work extended hours because they’re in meetings all day? Do they take an extended lunch?
Ask your manager what their preferred method of communication is, or how you should get in touch with them. Should you approach them? Is email better, so they can read and respond when it’s convenient? Is a phone call better?
Learning all of these things is a good way to make your first day, week, and first job overall, more effective.
11. Take Time To Be Yourself
Getting started in a new job can be a big adjustment. It’s tough to start working with new people and getting to know them. It’s also hard sometimes for others to bring people in and get them working with the team.
Making a good first impression and doing the right things at work should be at the top of your list. Given this is the case, you should take your time to be yourself at work. If you’re a loud person, or like to tell jokes, or have other qualities that some people may not like, it’s a good idea to not release them on the first day.
While I am a supporter of being yourself, it’s also important to be considerate of others. While people in other jobs, or your friends, may appreciate your singing at your desk or your jokes, other people may not, if they haven’t gotten to know you yet. So, get to know people a bit first before you relax into this.
12. Ask Questions
One of the things you’ll be doing a lot on your first day is asking a lot of questions. In between meeting people and taking notes, of course.
Asking questions is one of the best ways to find out more about your job and what the company does. You’ll probably have a million questions on your first day. I know I do when I start new roles.
Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions. I’ve always thought it’s better to ask stupid questions than make stupid mistakes. If you’re not sure about something, ask it. Nobody cares that the new guy asks a lot of questions. They almost expect it. So you can feel free to ask as many questions as you need to make sure you understand what is going on.
Make sure you write down the answers, too, so you can refer back to them later and avoid asking them again.
13. Be Slow To Make Friends
It’s important to get along with people at work. Get to know your coworkers, what they like doing, their personalities and how they handle themselves at work.
However, it’s a good idea to avoid making too good a friend with someone very early on in your role. I mean, you can make friends with people, but just do it at a slower pace and not to one person in particular.
Try to be on friendly terms with many people, to avoid the tag of being clingy or sticking to a certain few people. It’s good to spread around and get to know all kinds of people, and be slow at becoming friends with people at work.
14. Set Up An Email Signature
Once you know what your role is, your team name, and have your desk set up, you should go ahead and create an email signature.
An email signature is a must-have for anyone working with emails. It lets others know who you are, provides them with contact information, and looks professional.
Set one up as soon as you can. Some companies have special formats or standards. A good way to save time is to get one of your coworkers to send you an email with their signature. You could then copy it, change the details, and make it your own. This would only work if it’s a general signature, for the team.
15. Don’t Complain
Nobody likes a complainer. It brings on negative thoughts and doesn’t make the team any happier. Try to avoid complaining at work on your first day.
This includes large and small things. Complaining about the traffic or public transport system, the messy kitchen, the terrible designed software systems, the slow computers, anything like that will not look good on you. Other people will be aware of these issues, and if you complain about it, it just gives off a bad impression. Try to stay positive, and if you must complain, complain to a friend or partner after work about it – not at work.
The positivity that is shown at your office will give a good impression of you to others – both your manager and your team.
Well, there’s a list of things that all software professionals should do on their first day on the job. What other suggestions do you have? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.