What do you do on the first days at a new job?

My friend Stephen started a new job this week. His post about first impressions is a fun read and will transport you back to the first days on the job. Click over and read it (should only take a minute or two). He asked for some tips/advice on how to spend those first days, and I wanted to share a few of my own thoughts here.

I am proud of you, my friend! They are very lucky to have you on board. I’m in the exact same position as you. Our company is split between two main locations, and I’m trying to support both areas. If possible, plan a trip to the other locale and give them plenty of notice in advance so they can prepare questions for you. I had that opportunity after being here only a few weeks and it was a great opportunity to meet them and make them more comfortable with me.

Find out what your senior leaders believe in. Like Steve mentioned, find out what is best about their culture and commit yourself to that. I found out that our senior leaders firmly believe in our core values, and I now try to tie those into any project I’m working on so it will have their support.

On the flip side, find out what they like least, but like Lisa said, keep from “doing” anything about it until you have time to see the big picture. There will be plenty of time later to fix what’s broken. The thing to do now is find out what is broken and why it hasn’t been fixed before now. Is it because it’s too costly, takes too much time, is a pet project of an executive, etc.?

Two things I’ve taken to doing when I first start a job:

  • Immediately schedule a 1 month review with my manager and get it on the calendar.
  • Start a draft Word document and write down everything you do that takes more than a few minutes. At the end of the day/week/month, you will be amazed at the things you’ve done since starting, and it will help you when you sit down with your manager to see if you are focusing on what is important to them.

Anyone else have ideas for the first days on the job?

5 thoughts on “What do you do on the first days at a new job?

  1. Carol McDaniel

    I just love reading all of these great tips and ideas for what to do on your first day at work – all very thought out and important! I’m honored to have you as a colleague in the HR community and would be thrilled to work with someone like you, Ben!

    Honestly, I have to say that on my first day of work, I like to:

    1- Find out the scoop on the office gossip.

    2- Who is the “real” boss – we all know there is one on paper and someone who really runs the place.

    3 – How can I get the inside on the office supplies – I need top quality pens, staplers and paperclips.

    4- What time does everyone go to lunch.

    5 – Last, but not least, can you bring pets to work and if yes, what are the size and breed restrictions.

    At some point I’ll find out who has the biggest office and start my campaign to lobby to have it for myself.

    Have a great Thursday!

  2. Ben Post author

    Great stuff, Carol! I thought Stephen’s question was a good one and I am glad to have something to offer after my own recent job change. :-)

  3. Kirk Baumann


    I like this post a lot. So much focus is put on the job search, interview prep, etc. and not enough focus on what the heck you’re supposed to do when you actually GET the job. I wrote a short, easy to read post a while back that gives some great answers to your question of “what do I do the first days on the job?”.

    Here it is: 10 Simple Ways to Succeed In Your New Career http://bit.ly/fmlM4X

    You’re doing great things, my friend. Keep rockin’ the blogosphere!

    Kirk Baumann

  4. Ben Post author

    Thanks, Kirk! You have some fantastic ideas as well. I appreciate the comment and the kind words.

  5. Doug Shaw

    Because I freelance – I start a new job quite frequently – love it! I like to wander around and ask simple questions – they kind that the familiarity among regular employees means they have forgotten to ask each other. “What’s it like to work here?” kind of stuff. And I keep notes of the little things. Example – how do conversations start around here? Where I am at the moment, sadly people are sending me one line emails where a phone call or a quick hello would be much better. This kind of things tells me a lot about the culture of a place and helps me when I’m thinking about how to help my customer make work better.

    Cheers – Doug

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