When you're unemployed or trying to switch careers, there's nothing more exciting than getting the call or email from a potential employer letting you know they've picked you. But what can start as enthusiasm can quickly turn to anxiety as your start date approaches. So how can you keep that enthusiasm from turning into a bad case of nerves? Here are some tips to help you nail your first day at your new job.
Talk to HR
Sometimes a job offer will come directly from your new company's Human Resources Department, but not always. Either way, make sure you check in with HR before your first day. Find out what kind of documents they'll need from you, such as your driver's license, social security card, and bank account information (which is usually required if you'd like direct deposit). This is also a great time to ask any questions you have about company policies not covered in your offer, such as dress code.
Get Prepared the Night Before
First-day anxiety can really kick in the night before you start a new job, leaving you restless and unable to sleep. An easy way to fight your worries (so you can get the rest you need before to the big day) is to start preparing for work the night before.
Start with your wardrobe: select your outfit and lay it out so it's ready for you in the morning. Make sure to pick something professional and within your new company's dress code, but that's also comfortable and helps you feel your best. Because every office thermostat is different (with some ranging from glacial all the way to tropical), you may want to dress in layers so you can adjust to the office temperature during the day.
In addition to picking out your clothes, you should pack your bag and any materials you'll need for your first day. Bring some pens and paper, just in case your office or cubicle hasn't been stocked yet. Also grab whatever personal effects you'll need to help you feel comfortable during the day: mouthwash, cough drops, hand lotion, tissues, etc.
Eat a Good Breakfast
Your mom probably told you when you were a kid that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Guess what: like most things your Mom told you, it's true. According to the American Dietetic Association, workers who don't eat breakfast tend to be more tired, irritable, and restless. In addition, those who eat breakfast have been shown to have better attitudes, endurance, and problem solving abilities throughout the day.
Give yourself an extra half hour in the morning to prepare a real breakfast, something other than a power bar or a jelly doughnut. A good breakfast should include a mix of protein and fiber to keep you full and fueled until lunchtime. Try oatmeal topped with sliced almonds, or eggs with whole wheat toast and fresh fruit.
Budget Your Time
Since you'll most likely be learning a new commute, give yourself some plenty of time in the morning to get to your new job. Check the train, bus, or metra schedules the night before (see tip #1) and plan accordingly. If you're driving to work, look up directions, alternate routes, and parking lot locations the night before. You may also want to check and see if there's construction on your route, or any road closings that could slow down your commute. If possible, do a test run in regular rush hour traffic to get an approximation of how long your commute will really take.
On your first day, it's easy to get overwhelmed with all the new names and faces, but it's important to introduce yourself to every person you run into. From the administrative assistant who greets you to the HR rep who makes your name badge to the company CEO you bump into in the hallway, you never know who exactly you'll be working or collaborating with on a daily basis. Introduce yourself to each person you meet, and try to get a sense of who they are and what they do in the company. (If you need to, make a cheat sheet and keep track of who's who and where their office is located.) To help yourself remember their names, try to use it 2 or 3 times in conversation.