It’s important to consider things from the employer’s perspective: imagine owning your own business and recruiting university students or graduates to join your team. What qualities and behaviours would you expect your new staff members to display?
Before you start
- Research the organisation: you’ll have to absorb a wealth of new information during your first days. Give yourself a head-start by researching or refreshing your knowledge on key information about the organisation, such as the products, services, values, mission statement and structure.
- Check your start time: find out where to go and what time you should start on your first day. Look up how to get to your new workplace and plan your trip, particularly for peak-hour travel. Consider doing a trial run to see how long the journey will take.
- Check the dress code: until you get a chance to observe what the accepted attire is in your new workplace you may want to dress more formally in your first week. Your personal grooming should always be neat and professional, even if casual attire is worn at your organisation. Prepare your outfit in advance so there are no last minute delays.
- Review your employment contract: read over your employment contract to ensure you understand the details of your offer. Understand your rights and responsibilities in the workplace.
Your first few days
Your first days in any new role will set the tone of your longer-term engagement with your employer. It’s important to think carefully about the impression you want to make. Keep these points in mind to get off to the best start on day one:
- Introduce yourself: be proactive in getting to know your new colleagues. Establish a good rapport early on with your team mates by taking the initiative to introduce yourself if that hasn't happened as part of your induction.
- Ask questions and take notes: take a notebook to jot down important points and any key contacts. Ask questions - you won’t be expected to know everything right away! Ask your manager what they are expecting from you in your first few weeks on the job.
- Familiarise yourself with company policies and codes of conduct: these may include health and safety procedures, internet, email and mobile phone use, confidentiality and privacy policies.
- Pack supplies: some workplaces are better prepared for new team members than others, so it's a good idea to take your own supplies on day one. Pack a pen, notepad, mug, water bottle, snacks, and lunch or money for food in case no ATMs are located nearby.
Your time at university will have taught you many skills that will serve you well in the workplace. Review these skills before you start out and reflect on how they can assist you in your first days, and how you’d like to develop them in your new role.
Your first few months
In any new job, the first few months are very important. In this time you need to:
- Establish yourself as reliable, demonstrating solid performance and commitment by completing any work you are given on time to the best of your ability.
- Be proactive and advise your manager if you have finished your work earlier than expected and ask if there is anything else you can do.
- Adopt a professional mode of communication. Lazy spelling and grammar usually found in online messaging is unacceptable in a professional environment. Proof-read your emails before sending them.
- Build relationships by getting to know your colleagues on a personal level which can help you to settle in to your role. Be polite and enthusiastic with everyone you meet.
- Develop an understanding of the company culture. Take your cues from colleagues and managers.
- Ask for assistance if you are unfamiliar with a particular task or if you are not sure what you should be doing.
Many organisations include a probationary period for new employees (often three or six months), which makes this period crucial in terms of your performance, teamwork and contributions.
Monitor your own performance
Particularly in the first months in a new role, it is important to check in regularly with your manager and ask for feedback and advice to ensure you are contributing effectively to team goals and meeting expectations.
Key things to remember
- Expect work to be very different to university and prepare for a readjustment.
- Don’t expect to be given high-level tasks immediately; responsibility grows with time and demonstrated ability.
- Be clear on what is expected of you in your role and focus on achieving these outcomes.
- Take the initiative to find answers to your questions. Most organisations have an intranet that provides answers to many of the questions employees raise.