First Impressions Matter, Especially at Your First Job

We all want to make a great first impression, whether it’s meeting our new colleagues for the first time or getting to know people at a social event. The very first day of your very first professional job, however, may just be the defining moment for making a good impression. Read on for some tips to feel confident while putting your best foot forward.

Make a great first impression

Dress for success

Whether it’s fair or not, people make assumptions based on physical presentation. That doesn’t mean you have to have designer clothes or visit a hair salon—it just means you should put obvious thought and care into your hygiene and dress. That means being freshly showered, wearing unwrinkled clothing, styling your hair, and making sure clothes fit appropriately. Entering into a casual office atmosphere? Great! But save the super casual wear until you are a bit more settled into your role. In a professional atmosphere, it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed—especially on your first day.

Coax out your inner extrovert

First days can be stressful: Not only are you learning the ins and outs of your job role, but you are also learning the ropes about office culture, coworker personalities, and team interactions. It is a lot to take in, but now is not the time to be shy. Whether it comes naturally or not, try to exude friendliness and openness to everyone with whom you cross paths. Make an effort to introduce yourself to those around you (and especially those you will be working closely with on a daily basis). Smile at office mates who pass your desk. Join your coworkers for lunch (if that is a thing in your office). In other words, be kind to those around you, and show a real interest in learning about your new work environment. People will pick up on your genuineness, which will go a long way toward making a great first impression.

Take the initiative

Jared Polites, partner at LaunchTeam, tells Inc. that “initiative is the most important thing for a new employee to hit the ground running.” What does that mean? Do not be intimidated by people who have worked at your company longer—go ahead and volunteer for projects and do your best to show your boss (and team members) you are not only responsible, but eager to show what you can do. If there are any after-work events, whether they are happy hours or workshops, be sure to attend those—at least at the beginning. Once you have gotten more comfortable with your position, you can step back and prioritize the events in which you would like to participate.

Keep it all business

Some people work in a casual office atmosphere, where rules are a bit laid back. But even if you suspect this might be the case for your new workplace, the first day on the job is not the time to fully embrace the slack. Instead, keep it extremely professional until you have gotten a chance to witness the culture firsthand. That means keeping your cellphone on vibrate or silent and putting it away for the day. Avoid all personal calls and emails during work hours. And do not browse the internet for non-work-related tasks, even if you notice others doing so. Being the new person means that, unjustly or not, you are being held to a higher standard than those who have been at the company longer. The Muse points out you don’t want to come across as overfamiliar with company politics on your very first day, so jumping right in on casual phone calls or internet surfing could annoy your new coworkers and/or boss.

As the newbie in the office, it’s ultimately your responsibility to learn the ropes about what’s expected in terms of dress, office culture, etc. But on your very first day? Do everything you can to show your boss and colleagues you are a valuable part of the team—right from the start.

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