6 Things to Do on Your First Day at a New Job


As Plato wrote in 380 B.C., "The beginning is the most important part of the work." It's a truth that still stands today: How you begin a new job sets the tone for how the rest of your work days will go. If you make the right impression, you can achieve faster, stress less, and gain a general sense of respect from your brand new peers. (See also: 13 Things Successful People Do Every Morning)

Read on for our roundup of the top tips and tricks on starting a new gig off right.

1. Be Prompt

The fact that your employer wants you to arrive on time for work shouldn't shock you out of your seat. But considering nearly 20% of Americans are habitually late for work, it's worth rehashing: Supervisors perceive prompt workers to be more conscientious, responsible, and productive. If you're a few minutes early — even better. (See also: 5 Things to Do Before Your First Day on a New Job)

2. Shake Hands With Your New Colleagues — Every Last One of Them

New neuroscience research has confirmed the power of a handshake: Strangers who meet really do form a better impression of one another if they shake hands while greeting. "Be aware of the power of a handshake," says Sanda Dolcos, postdoctoral research associate for the Beckman Institute Department of Psychology. "We found that it not only increases the positive effect toward a favorable interaction, but it also diminishes the impact of a negative impression. Many of our social interactions may go wrong for a reason or another, and a simple handshake preceding them can give us a boost and attenuate the negative impact of possible misunderstandings."

3. Project High Energy

Allow yourself to exhibit your true zest for the work you're doing. The most successful employees have a real love for the work, so act like it! Not only that, but happy employees lead directly to better performance and higher profits. Bottom line: you'll fare well to show your enthusiasm.

4. Clear Your Desk of Clutter

If your new desk is housing old materials — outdated paperwork, that stack of memos from last week — throw it out. Studies show that a cluttered workspace actually hinders our ability to process information and concentrate. We aren't aware of it, but clutter competes for our attention in much the same way as a whining child or a barking dog does.

5. Write Tomorrow's To-Do List

You'll save yourself time on morning number two if you scribble down the next day's to-dos before heading home on day one. That way when you arrive at your desk the next day, you'll have a list of tasks all ready to focus on. Experts say it's best when we begin the work day by crossing off tasks with a single focus — something we can truly feel accomplished about. So take some time to identify what that task might be and put it at the top of your list.

6. Say Goodbye

"We tend to think about the importance of checking in and saying good morning to kick off the day," international business speaker Michael Kerr told Forbes, "but we forget that it can be just as important, and make us feel good as well, to say a friendly and proper goodbye to everyone rather than just silently drift off into the night. This is triply important if you are the supervisor."

What do you do on your first day on the job?

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