2017-ICPAS-INSIGHT-Masthead

6 Ways to Calm Your First Day Jitters

Here's how to make a great first impression. By ICPAS Staff | Digital Exclusive

First Day

Once the excitement of getting your new job wears off, the panic about your first day sets in. Here’s how to calm your nerves and stand out as a stellar new recruit.

1. Dress for success

According to Kim Zoller, founder and president of personal and professional training firm, Image Dynamics, 55 percent of a person’s perception of you is based on how you look. In other words, appearances count—a lot.

Making things even more challenging is the fact that there are no hard-and-fast rules about appropriate dress in today’s corporate world. The dress code is tailored to the environment, culture and, oftentimes, industry.

Zoller offers this advice: Opt for a solid color, conservative suit, worn with a coordinating shirt and tie or blouse. Jewelry should be worn selectively, and aftershave or perfume sparingly. Bring a portfolio or briefcase to hold paperwork.

2. Plan your day

Pick out your outfit the night before and look over any company information you’ve been given. Don’t make the night before your first day of work all about work, however. Sit down and unwind for a while. And get lots of sleep.

3. Don’t rush

Wake up extra early so you don’t have to rush to get ready. With the unpredictability of traffic, especially in a large city like Chicago, double your normal commute time and add 15 to 30 minutes. It’s better to have time to kill than to turn up at the office flustered, fatigued and, worse of all, late.

4. Arrive prepared

Before you even enter the building, turn off any electronic devices, especially cell phones. Bring everything you might need for the day, including a portfolio, paper, pen and legal IDs. Invariably, whether the company is small or large, new employees will have a mountain of paperwork to fill out. More often than not, employers require two forms of ID as proof of citizenship.

5. Get up to speed

At some point over the course of your first day, take the time to look over the employee handbook, and to familiarize yourself with office policies regarding Internet use, privacy, lunch hours, breaks and office conduct, etc. Knowing what you’re dealing with off the bat will help you avoid awkward or professionally embarrassing situations. Pay particular attention to how long people spend at lunch, the hours in a typical workday, and the preferred mode of inter-office communication. In other words, pay attention to the company’s unwritten rules and adopt them as your own.

6. Watch your conversation

While you want to be open and friendly, and to forge long-term relationships with your colleagues, don’t divulge too much of a personal or casual nature. And don’t gossip, even if the people around you do. In short, steer clear of any topic of conversation that potentially could offend a new colleague.