Careers advice

How to make a good impression at a new job

Remember, they chose you.

What do you do on your first day in a new job? This is a common question, and if your start date is getting close, you’re probably feeling a mixture of excitement and nervousness.

You’re keen to impress the boss, get on well with your coworkers and dive into your daily tasks. Here’s how.

How to make a good impression at a new job

1. Be on time

The employer will probably have given you instructions about what time to arrive on your first day – sometimes this can be different to standard hours. Make sure you’ve understood, and know where to go when you arrive.

We’d recommend planning your route carefully, especially if public transport is involved, and giving yourself a solid 15 minute buffer in case anything unexpected happens.

It's okay to be nervous on your first day.

2. Be appropriately dressed

From the interview process, you should have got a good idea about the company dress code.

Even if the business operates smart casual, or even casual, work attire, it’s advisable to play it safe for your first week or so. This will give you a good chance to gauge what your colleagues wear before putting yourself out there.

Of course, if the company policy is suits only, you’ll be more limited with your options.

3. Show a positive attitude

Whether you’re working in a cafe, a bank or tech start up, New Zealand employers value attitude very highly indeed. So, how do you show your boss you’ve got the right mindset?

  • Listen and take notes: chances are your first day will be a bit of an information overload. So, give your manager your full attention and take notes if you think that’ll help you retain details.
  • Be enthusiastic: as you start to learn more about your role, show you’re excited to take on the tasks.
  • Take the initiative: no one will expect you to have all the answers right away, but showing you’re thinking about solutions to business problems already is a great way to earn some brownie points.
  • Be friendly: it’s intimidating meeting heaps of people at one time, but a simple “hello” to your new colleagues will go a long way. Remember that body language also counts for a lot, so smile!
  • Don’t complain: your first day is not the time to throw a strop because your chair is uncomfortable or the commute was longer than you hoped. Positive energy is the order of the day.

4. Volunteer

Maybe not on your first day, but once you start to feel more confident with managing your workload, don’t be afraid to put your hand up to take on additional tasks. Helping teammates won’t only help win their respect, it will also help you make a great first impression to your boss.

Equally, when someone offers you a hand, don’t forget to say thanks!

A positive and friendly attitude goes a long way when you're new to a company.

5. Ask for help when required

New employees often worry about bugging their colleagues or manager with heaps of questions.

Don’t.

While you want to give those around you time to get on with their work, you’re new – they’ll expect questions. What’s more, being curious shows your desire to learn and become a useful member of the team.

6. Don’t start making demands

Day One isn’t the time to ask about annual leave or other perks, like working from home, that you didn’t discuss during the interview process.

You can have these conversations later, for now focus on showing what you can give them, not what they can give you.

7. Stay off your phone

You’ll likely have whānau getting in touch asking how things are going. Save responding until lunch or after work – it’s never a good look when your manager catches you on your phone when you should be working.

8. Socialise with your colleagues

For some people this is easy, for others it can be a bit nerve-wracking. Just remember, your teammates will want to get to know you and make you feel at home, in the same way that you want to fit in.

Our advice? If someone asks you if you want to grab coffee, say “yes” even if you only end up getting water, sit with colleagues at lunch and be up for a post-work hangout if it’s suggested.

9. ...but avoid gossip

Office politics can be divisive and toxic, so you’re best steering well clear… especially when you’re new. While you’re bound to find things out the longer you stay, remaining neutral is the best policy.

Take opportunities to socialise with your colleagues and build relationships.

Tips for reducing nerves on your first day in a new job

  • Get a good night’s sleep: everything seems worse when you’re tired, so start your new job feeling fresh.
  • Plan your route: there’s nothing worse than lateness to increase already high anxiety levels.
  • Don’t worry about knowing everything: no one expects you to, and you’ll soon pick things up.
  • Make notes: this can help you from becoming overwhelmed by everything you learn.
  • Remember they chose you: imposter syndrome is common in new jobs. But remember that you worked hard to get this role, and probably beat a lot of competition in the process. In other words, you got this.