It’s your first day of work at a new company, and the butterflies in your stomach are going wild. You might be worrying whether you’ll make a great first impression on your employers and customers.
The good news?
The fact that you landed a new role proves that you’ve already made a great impression on recruiters and hiring managers. According to research, 33% of recruiters know whether or not they’ll hire a candidate within 90 seconds of meeting them. That means you nailed your first impression during the interview process, and there’s no reason why you can’t do the same during your first week on the job.
Also, it’s completely normal to feel a little jittery on your first day of work, whether you’re starting at a brand new company or were recently promoted to a new position at your existing company. That’s especially true for first-time managers, as managerial roles typically take some extra time to get used to the added responsibility and pressure.
We want you to knock it out of the park on your first day of work. That’s why we’re giving you our best advice on how to make a good impression at a new job, whether you’re starting at a new company or were recently promoted – so stay tuned.
Why are first impressions so important?
Your first day at work means you’re officially a part of the team, and the first impression you make sets the stage for all your future interactions. You’ll likely meet with all your new coworkers, managers, and executives on day one, and you’ll want to make a positive impression on them all. If you make a fantastic first impression on your new workplace, you’ll likely have an easier time during the onboarding process.
Why is that?
It has to do with something called the primacy effect, which is the human tendency to remember the first piece of information experienced in a sequence far better than information received later on. In other words, the first impression you have on new colleagues is what they’ll remember the most whenever you come to mind.
Not only that, but your coworkers are more likely to forget interactions that occur after your first meeting. That means if you come off as awkward, rude, self-centered, or phony on your first day, it’ll be very difficult (albeit not impossible) to break that stigma — even if you have lots of positive interactions with coworkers afterward.
This is why making a good first impression on your first day is so crucial. You only have one opportunity to wow your new employer, as there are no second chances, so you need to make your first impression count.
The Halo Effect
The good news is that if you do knock it out of the park on your first day, that positive impact will have a lingering effect. Due to the aforementioned primacy effect, the positive impression you made on your coworkers will stay at the top of their minds.
The benefits of making a great first impression don’t end there, though. There’s also the halo effect, and while it’s technically a form of cognitive bias, it can still work in your favor.
The halo effect refers to how our first impression of someone can influence how we think and feel about their overall character. In particular, the halo effect leads some to attribute multiple positive traits to a person who only truly exhibited one.
A common example is when a hiring manager finds someone physically attractive during a job interview, which leads them to conclude that the candidate is also smart, nice, and trustworthy (even though these are all assumptions).
The halo effect is something recruiters and hiring managers need to look out for, but it can actually be beneficial on the candidate/new hire side.
Top ways to make a fantastic first impression at a new job
Now, let’s take a look at some of the most effective ways to wow your new boss and coworkers on your first day of work. These tips assume that you’re not only beginning a new role but also starting work at a new organization.
Scroll down to find another group of tips centered around making a great impression on your first day of a promotion.
Have the right attitude
Before you set foot through the door (or fire up your first video call if you’re a remote worker), you need to get your head straight. By that, I mean you need to muster as much enthusiasm as possible before starting the day, as a cheery, positive attitude is an absolute must.
That doesn’t mean that you have to act phony with a constant, plastered-on smile — just that you should be affable and eager to learn. Your body language plays a big role here, as most experts claim that at least 70% of communication is nonverbal. You may feel enthusiastic, but if you’re sitting still with your arms folded while frowning — your body sends a very different message.
If you want your colleagues to feel your enthusiasm, use the following types of body language:
Take on an ‘open’ posture where your palms face upward, your arms are apart, your chest is out, and your chin is up. It’s also crucial to appear relaxed without slouching (otherwise, you may appear too stiff).
Make consistent eye contact whenever someone is speaking. Also, raise your eyebrows to show that you’re actively listening and interested in what they have to say.
If you’re meeting coworkers in person, use a solid, firm handshake that’s not too hard or too soft.
Don’t forget to genuinely smile as often as possible.
Avoid touching your face or fidgeting.
This next tip may seem like a no-brainer, but dressing nice plays such a significant role in making a first impression that its importance can’t be understated. It’s always a good idea to read the company’s dress code if you can find it, but if not, there’s no harm or shame in being overdressed.
When in doubt, you should always opt for business professional attire over business casual.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the difference:
Business professional means you should wear formal attire like a suit, tie, dress, or pantsuit. Legal professionals, investment bankers, political consultants, and broadcasters are all examples of industries that still use business professional attire on a daily basis.
Business casual is still formal, but it’s more lenient than business professional. For the most part, dress shirts (polos and button-ups) and khaki pants set the standard for business casual attire. Over the years, business casual has become more popular, and it’s a favorite amongst marketers, software engineers, and accountants.
While some companies allow casual dress, such as jeans and a T-shirt, you should never assume this is the case.
Another way to determine the dress code at a new job is to observe your coworkers. For example, if you spend your first few days in a full suit but notice everyone else is wearing khakis and button-ups, it’s a clear sign that business casual attire is acceptable.
Once again, for the purposes of making a good impression at a new job, it’s always best to overdress.
Plan your commute ahead of time
You won’t make a great first impression if you show up late, so you need to know exactly how long it will take you to get to work. The best way to do this is to make a few ‘dry runs’ where you plan out the quickest and easiest method to commute to the office.
When doing so, do your best to test out the commute at the same time that you’d head to work in the morning.
After all, traffic will look vastly different at 1:00 PM than it will at 7:30 in the morning.
Also, your goal shouldn’t be to arrive at your scheduled time to begin work. No, you’re here to make a great impression, which is why you should aim to be at least 15 minutes early on your first day.
That means playing it safe and leaving for work a full 15 – 20 minutes early on your first day to mitigate any unforeseen issues.
It would be a shame to plan out a rock-solid route to work only to run into gridlocked traffic due to a car accident or a construction detour. If you give yourself an additional time buffer, you’ll still arrive early on your first day, regardless of any setbacks.
Get plenty of rest the night before
This tip goes hand-in-hand with having a positive attitude. If you get plenty of rest the night before, it’ll be far easier to muster an enthusiastic, sunny attitude for your first day of work. If you go out drinking the night before and only achieve a few hours of sleep, your first day will become mired in misery, and everyone will be able to tell.
Treat your first day just as you would preparing for a large exam, where you get at least eight hours of sleep the night before (any longer than that is a luxury).
Develop talking points
Meeting lots of new people at once can be stressful and awkward. To ensure your first day doesn’t give you anxiety, prepare some talking points in advance.
In particular, study up on who you’re going to meet during your first week. Research the higher-ups at your company and try to get a grasp of their personalities, interests, and desires. From there, write down a series of talking points that you can bring up to each executive, manager, and colleague.
You can also prepare some generic talking points for coworkers, but do your best to avoid office politics and gossip at all costs.
Tips for making a good first impression at a new promotion
Now, let’s take a look at some ways to impress your new coworkers whenever you start a new role at your current organization. It could be that you’ve been promoted to a manager for the first time, or maybe you’re taking on an executive role.
Whatever the case may be, it’s equally as crucial that you make an outstanding first impression at a promotion just as you would for a position at a brand-new organization.
Take things slow
This tip is primarily for first-time managers, but it can apply to all promoted roles. You’ll undoubtedly be eager to start kicking butt at your new role, but it’s crucial not to get too ambitious.
Getting carried away can work against you, especially on your first day. That’s why your best bet is to take things nice and slow, all while surrounding yourself with other managers and leaders at your company for their advice and expertise.
Start developing goals
Once you start to get a feel for your new responsibilities, you should start to develop some short-term and long-term goals — both for yourself and for the position. In order for your goals to truly have an impact, you need to fully understand your role, responsibilities, and level of influence.
When your higher-ups see that you didn’t waste any time developing goals, they’ll know they promoted the right person.
Look for quick ways to gain momentum
While taking things slow is the way to go on your first day, that doesn’t mean that you should stay stagnant forever. On the contrary, from day one, you should keep your eyes open for ways to get ahead and gain momentum.
What does that look like?
A great way to uncover some ‘quick wins’ is to try to uncover your staff’s primary pain points during your one-on-one meetings. From there, brainstorm ways that you can mitigate or eliminate those pain points to score some momentum and support.
Final thoughts: How to make a good impression at a new job
Whether you’re starting at a new organization or just landed a promotion, making a strong first impression is a must in either scenario. By impressing your coworkers and managers from the get-go, you’ll secure yourself as part of the team sooner rather than later.
Also, making a good first impression will take some of the pressure off the onboarding process, which is a notorious pain point for new hires.