How to own your first day on the job

How to own your first day on the job

The first day on the job is generally accompanied by a series of emotions: anxiety, excitement, dread, adrenaline, pride and determination, just to name a few. But, at some point, you’ll gather all your emotions and put them aside so that you can actually attempt to get through the day. And it’s not as difficult or dreadful as it may seem.


You aren’t going to make the best first impression by arriving late or on time (because that’s expected). The best way to express your excitement and gratefulness for this job opportunity, is to get there early. Okay, not an hour before there is anyone else in the office, but being 15 minutes early is a great window to settle yourself in and surprise your boss when they arrive at the office.

Punctuality is a great trait to have and if you practise it from day one, there’s a good chance of getting in the good books.

Elevator pitch

Now, this is mostly to make your own life a bit easier. If you can the night before, prepare an elevator pitch about yourself. Why? Well, there isn’t a great chance that you will be addressing the entire office of colleagues at the same time to tell them who are you, why you’re here and where you came from with regards to your previous place of employment.

So, if you prepare an elevator pitch with this information, you don’t have to “waste time” finding the words and figuring out what to want to say when colleagues approach you left, right and centre with personal questions. Just don’t over prepare to the point where you sound like a robot or are rushing through it because it’s the tenth time this morning that you’re saying it. You still need to be friendly.


Being friendly is important, especially if you’re going into a long-term contract with the company. You don’t want to be known as the “grumpy one” or “person-who-doesn’t-greet”. All it takes is a greeting in the morning and later when you leave, a smile to passersby and some small talk in the coffee room.

Take an interest in your colleagues’ lives if they share their stories with you and try your best to remember their names so that on day two, you can follow up and have some people to sit with at lunch.


Being friendly doesn’t mean that you get to completely relax. Yes, you should make yourself comfortable in your work environment, but you must must always remain professional. Especially on your first day when you’re still “testing the waters”, as they say. You were hired to complete work to the best of your ability and there is always a level of professionalism in every business.

Eyes and ears

With that said, you will learn the boundaries and social happenings within the office. Use your eyes and ears to figure out what’s acceptable, what the general behaviours are, how people interact with each other and with clients, where casual conversations happen, where meetings take place, who you need to be wary of, and everything that goes with the interactive dynamics of company culture.


On the first day, you may not feel as comfortable at your desk as you will by the end of the week, but it’s important to add something personal to the desk to make it yours. You plan on staying there and performing well in this position, so show it.

Buy a mini pot plant (preferably a succulent if you want something that will last and is low maintenance), arrange your notepads and pens on your desk and put your things in the drawer. Personalise your space and it will definitely help with those first-day nerves.


Lastly, if you want to truly own your first day on the job, you need to be confident. You went through the application process, you have a degree, you have your experience in generic management to help you transition into the new position as team leader, and you got the job. You have everything you need to be confident on your first day and show everyone who’s boss (even if you aren’t the actual boss).

Prove to your employer that you are ready and committed to doing your best, to learn everything there is to learn and to make a positive change in the business. And you do that through self-confidence.

Authored by: Pete Anderson

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