First day at work

Starting a new job is exciting, but the thought of walking into a new office can be pretty daunting. Here's how to survive your first day at work.

girl looking confused at computer

Getting your new computer to work is the hardest part

How should I prepare for my first day?

Start by planning your journey in advance – you don’t want the added pressure of arriving late and flustered, especially if it’s your first job. Make allowances for rush-hour traffic and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Work out what you’re going to wear the night before and pack a notebook and pen in your bag, as you’ll have a lot of information to take in. If you’re feeling nervous, it can help to browse your employer’s website and read through your job description – if you have one.

What should I wear?

It’s better to be too formal than too scruffy, so opt for the smart option until you figure out what the office dress code is. However, it’s important you feel comfortable in whatever you’re wearing, as this will boost your confidence.

Who should I ask if I don’t understand anything?

If you need help then it is best to ask your line manager, or whoever is looking after you on the day. If they’re not around and the question is urgent then ask someone with a friendly face. Repeatedly asking the same question can be annoying, though, so make sure you make a note of the answer.

How chatty should I be?

It goes without saying that you should be polite and friendly to everyone from the receptionist to the boss. If you’re not sure who someone is then it’s fine to introduce yourself and ask them what they do. However, it’s best to keep the chat down to a minimum until you know people better – you don’t want to distract them.

What should I do if someone in the office is rude?

Your new workplace will be full of existing relationships, grudges and other history. None of this has anything to do with you. They may simply be having a bad day, or you could be doing the job they wanted. If this is the case, just be friendly to them, as you would with anyone else. Chances are when they get to know you their personal resentment will fade.

When should I take a lunch break?

There may be fixed times for taking your lunch – or leaving the office – so ask about this at the beginning of the day. If there are no formal rules then watch when other people go. At the end of the day it’s worth telling someone you’re off, even if it’s just to say, “Thanks for your help today and I’ll see you tomorrow”.

How will I know what to do?

It’s likely that either your boss or a member of your team will talk you through your role and responsibilities. There might even be a formal induction process for new employees. It’s also worth observing others to get an idea of how the office works. What do people say when they answer the phone? Do people make tea for everyone, or just get their own?

What if I forget everything?

Take a deep breath and don’t worry; you won’t be expected to remember everything you’re told on your first day. However, make sure you note down important information, such as login details, people’s names and your first set of tasks. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if someone tells you something you don’t understand.

What if I hate my new job?

Give it a chance. It’s easy to become overwrought on your first day as you can be bombarded with information – or maybe given no information at all – but it won’t always be like that. It may take a while for you to find your feet, but it won’t be long before you’ll be gossiping at the coffee machine with everyone else.

Next Steps


work tips

By Joanna Roberts

Updated on 29-Sep-2015