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The "how - to" for starting your first office job!

Posted on 11th December 2019 by Jo Lothian

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You’ve done the hard bit – you’ve got through the application process and the interview, and you got the job! Now it’s time to prepare yourself for the practicalities of starting work.

It can be intimidating starting your first office job, whether you’re fresh out of school or university, or maybe you’re transitioning from another career or going back to the workplace after raising a family.

First-day nerves are only to be expected, but there are a few things to do to make sure your first week goes smoothly. By making sure you do all you can to settle in and make a good impression now, you’ll be setting yourself up for the best chance of success later.

Preparing for Your First Day

If you've secured your job offer through MAYDAY recruitment, we'll manage a lot of the on-boarding process, so you should have all the information you need when you start a new job. 

Make sure to check in with your recruiter so that you're clear on start times, appropriate office attire, and if there's any other information you need to know before your first day.

Once you’ve arrived and have started to be introduced into the way things are done, be sure to take notes whenever you receive useful information throughout your first few days (and weeks) of work. Starting a new job can be overwhelming, and it's easy to forget things when you're receiving floods of new information. Note-taking also sends a positive message that you're organised and engaged with the information people are giving you.

On your first day aim to be early rather than on time. First impressions are important, and you don’t want to accidentally arrive late due to a transport hold up or having to run back to the house because you forgot your jacket.

Make an active effort to give eye contact when you meet new people. This will make you feel more confident and show others that you're open and happy to interact with them.

Move with purpose around the office instead of hanging around or dawdling. Be pro-active about finding worthwhile tasks, ask questions where needed (no-one expects you to know everything!), and have a positive attitude whenever you're asked to do something.

Being nervous is totally normal, and it's fine to admit this. If you make a mistake its best to own up, move on, and learn from it. Your manager will respect you for your honesty and for making an effort. Everyone makes mistakes when they first start, and while it may feel major to you, it's most likely insignificant in the long run.

Tips for Making Friends at Work

If you’re working full-time, you’ll probably be spending more time with your colleagues than your friends outside work, so it’s worth putting in the effort to make friends.

Research by Gallup shows that people who have a close friend at work are more engaged at work, perform better, are less likely to have negative experiences at work, and have fewer workplace accidents.

Making friends doesn’t come easily to everyone, but even if you’re an introvert, there are a few things you can do to nurture those workplace friendships from the start:

  • Make an extra effort to remember names. This can be difficult when you’re being introduced to lots of new people. Try saying 'nice to meet you, [name]' when you’re first introduced, and draw your own seating plan of the office with names to help you remember. If you do forget someone’s name, don’t be afraid to ask again!
  • Try to accept social invitations. You won’t be able to join in every social occasion during your career, but it's especially important during those first few weeks to make an effort if you’re asked out to lunch or for after-work drinks, even if you have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Social outings out of work can be great networking opportunities too.
  • Be friendly. It sounds obvious, but smiling and saying 'good morning', or asking your colleagues if they want a coffee when you go to make one for yourself can go a long way.
  • Make sure to smile. Even if you’re feeling incredibly nervous, remember to smile when you meet new people. Studies have shown that smiling can make you appear more confident in the workplace, and can make you more popular among your colleagues.
  • Stay out of office gossip. While it may be tempting to know the juicy gossip, especially if your whole team is talking about it, it’s crucial to stay professional, especially when you’re new. Don’t say anything about anyone that you wouldn’t say to their face.

Telephone and Email Etiquette

Every office has its own policies on telephone and email etiquette, so it’s definitely worth asking for guidance if you can. This may include points such as:

  • How to answer a call
  • How to transfer a call
  • The company’s email signature format
  • Whether you should copy your boss into emails or not

There are also a few good practices to keep in mind generally when you’re sending emails for work:

  • Reply to emails as soon as possible, even if it’s just a quick message to say you will send a more detailed response later. A study found that 70% of people expect a response from co-workers within four hours
  • Don’t use the “reply to all” option or copy in extra people unless they really need to know the contents of the email
  • Introduce yourself first if you’ve not spoken to the person you’re emailing
  • Make sure to use a professional and polite sign-off such as “Kind Regards” or “Best Wishes”
  • Above all, remember to keep your emails professional. You can't delete an email once it's sent, so whatever you've written will be recorded forever. If you're having a bad day and you're tempted to respond unprofessionally to an unwanted request or message, take a break and come back to the email with a clear head

Give Yourself and Your Workplace Time

While you may feel like a fish out of water for the first few weeks in your new workplace, don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, everyone was new once.

It’s worth noting that the first 3 months in any new role can feel unsettling as you strive to learn new processes, make friends and understand how things are done at your new workplace – and this is totally normal. Take each day as it comes and focus on being professional and polite – the rest will come with time. One day everything will click into place, and suddenly, your new work will feel like your old home away from home.

If you’re looking for a great new role, please reach out to MAYDAY Recruitment at info@maydayrecruitment.com or 02 8377 5600 to speak with one of our consultants regarding temporary, contract or permanent employment.