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10 Tips for Your First Day on the Job

A businessman holding a cardboard box in an office.

​You've landed your first professional position—congratulations! Scoring a full-time position in the HR industry is the culmination of years of hard work in school. Getting ready for your first day of work can be equally exciting as it is nerve-wracking. 

As your first day draws closer, the best thing you can do is adjust your expectations and prepare yourself accordingly. The most important advice to keep in mind on your first day at work is to have an open mind. You'll be taking in a lot of information and need to be ready to learn, according to William W. Spencer III, HR business partner at Innovative Defense Technologies (IDT).

"As a new, full-time employee, the thing I noticed during my first day on the job was how much information there is about an organization that, as an HR professional, you need to become familiar with," he said. "Supporting employees requires a lot of knowledge not only about the company but also about the industry it operates in."

While in school, Spencer worked as a human resources intern at IDT, which is based in Arlington, Va. After earning a Master of Science degree in management and human resources, he accepted a full-time offer with the company. He serves as the deputy to the organization's talent development leader; in that role, he implements programs and initiatives that provide invaluable professional development opportunities for employees.

"The organization I work for has a well-established orientation and onboarding process, which made getting up to speed on the general information about the company straightforward and seamless," he said. "Fortunately, I was also introduced to key leaders of my team and the organization, so I became familiar with the workplace environment fairly quickly."

There is a lot of material and processes to absorb during the onboarding period. Spencer said it is important to remember that the learning curve can be steep Most organizations and teams will not require a new hire to come on board and immediately begin implementing major process improvements or recommending new initiatives.

"Being an achievement-oriented individual, I found it difficult to refrain from attempting to acquire a massive amount of knowledge about the company in a short amount of time," he said.

Spencer shared 10 tips you can use to guarantee a successful first day.

  1. Ask a lot of questions.
  2. Study the organization's external website. It sounds rudimentary but can be valuable for interactions with both internal and external stakeholders.
  3. Put yourself out there and meet with other members of the organization to learn more about the business and the different departments.
  4. Set aside time to meet with your supervisor to get a better understanding of your scope of work and what is expected of you over the first six months in your new role.
  5. Compile any important documents you received during orientation, along with any materials you received from your team, in a central location so you can easily refer back to them during your onboarding period.
  6. Reach out to your team members and other departments to solicit any information they think would be helpful during your onboarding period.
  7. Listen and observe to see where you can add value and apply any knowledge or skills you bring to the table.
  8. Take in the company culture to gain a better understanding of how things are done and how people interact.
  9. Find someone you relate to so you have a point of contact that you feel comfortable going to when you have a question or need assistance.
  10. Remember to be yourself.


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