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The First Day: Good Meets Bad



You\’ve done the hard part, you\’ve got through the application stage, impressed in your interview, and you\’ve been offered the job – it should be plain sailing from that point on, no? Not quite!


The first day at a new job can be one of excitement and one of nerves, and since most jobs begin with a probationary period, it\’s good to make sure you get off to the right start. Since you\’ll mainly be learning the ropes, sitting in inductions, and meeting new people, it\’s pretty hard to completely mess up on the first day, but that doesn\’t mean it doesn\’t happen. From the moment you arrive your boss will be keeping a close eye on you to make sure they made the right decision in hiring you.


To help you understand what it\’s worth considering (and hopefully give you some useful tips) we\’ve recounted the story of two very different \”first days\” for two new starters at the same company.


After a tough selection process, Jane and John have secured new positions at an exciting and growing business. Along with a few other people, both are set to start on the same day, but their first days go down quite differently. They’re asked to come into the office for 10am, to allow the people who will be inducting them a chance to settle into their day beforehand…



10:00 | Arriving


10:30 | What to Bring


11:00 | Dress Code


12:00 | Colleagues


13:00 | Lunch


14:00 | Inductions


15:30 | First Tasks


16:00 | Social


17:00 | Leaving



Having already checked out what her new commute would involve and how long it would take, Jane arrives at 09:52. She has enough time to get a drink of water and check the paper before meeting her new manager, who comes down to greet her at 10:01.

John, who hadn’t checked out how long his new commute would take, arrives at 10:16. The knock-on effect is that his manager is late to her 10:30 meeting because she had a full 30 minutes of things to take John through before his general induction at 10:30.


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Jane brings with her a notepad, a pen and her ID/proof of eligibility to work in the country, which she was asked to bring with her in her welcome email two weeks ago.

John forgets to bring his ID and a notepad, so agrees to bring in his ID the following day (to the inconvenience of HR), and borrows some paper from a new colleague.


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With the dress code described to them as “smart casual”, Jane overestimates a bit on how smart to go, to be sure she doesn’t look under-dressed. When she arrives everyone is a little more casual than she is, and she knows she can tone it down slightly from then on.

John, when hearing that the dress code is “smart casual”, assumes that wearing jeans and a polo shirt would be fine. When he arrives, everybody (all the men) is wearing smart trousers and a shirt, just no jackets or ties – he looks (and feels) noticeably under-dressed.


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Jane makes a special effort to remember people’s names, even writing them down in a seating plan in her notepad. As a result she finds it much easier to approach her new colleagues, and quickly strikes up conversation.

After meeting so many people, John forgets everyone’s names. Everybody understands, because it’s normal after meeting a lot of new faces, but they’re impressed with Jane who remembers everyone’s names already.


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Nobody has said what the normal convention is for lunch, so Jane waits until other people start going, to see what they do. She brought a packed lunch with her in case she needed it, but instead joins a few people in going to a nearby café for a sandwich.

John also brought his lunch from home, but his is a portion of the fish he had last night for dinner, and he heats it up in the microwave in the kitchen adjoining the main office floor. The smell spreads across the whole floor and lingers for a few hours.


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More inductions take place after lunch. Jane is concentrating, but there are some things she doesn’t fully understand, so she asks if they can be covered again. On the second time she feels she’s got the hang of it and she completes her first tasks with no issues.

John loses concentration during the afternoon inductions and is scared to ask a question to help him understanding it, in case he looks stupid in front of the others. As a consequence on his second day in the job he makes silly mistakes that he could have avoided.


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At her new desk, Jane feels tired after everything they\’ve gone through, so she quickly stretches her legs for two minutes before focusing on the work they\’ve been given.

Once they\’ve been shown to their new desks and asked to begin some simple tasks, John conducts some private business on the internet, which is noticed by his manager.


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The new joiners are all invited out for a drink after work with their new team members and the HR team. Jane doesn\’t want to drink alcohol, but goes along, just ordering a coffee, and gets to know everyone a bit better.

John turns down the offer as he\’s not interested in spending any more time with his new colleagues. Nobody thinks bad of him, but the next day the rest of the group all look like friends and he wishes he\’d joined them.


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The day ends at 5pm, and Jane waits until everybody else starts leaving (around 5.10pm) before packing up and joining them across the road for a drink.

John makes sure he is ready to leave as soon as it strikes 5pm, and is the first to leave the building. His manager notices how eager he was to leave.


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As you can probably tell, Jane had a much more impressive first day than John! Whilst John didn\’t always do something wrong, Jane managed to impress and to go the extra mile on things where it wasn\’t even expected of her on first day.


As a result Jane got up to speed with her work in only a few weeks and was highly commended by both her boss and the other members of her team. John got up to speed too, but it took him quite a while longer, and he always felt a bit behind ever since that first day.


Start as you mean to go on and make sure you give it that extra bit of effort on your first day – you\’ll thank yourself further down the line!