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Six dos and don'ts on your first day at work

Last updated on: November 14, 2011 17:48 IST

Six dos and don'ts on your first day at work

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Your first day at a new job can be one long and awkward exercise. Sanket Danatra, author of From Cubicles 2 Cabins: A survival guide to your first job tells us what you should and shouldn't do on the big day to make the right impression on your colleagues.

Interview cleared, offer letter in hand, you are all set to join your first job and yet there is this little anxiety, as you get dressed for your first day at work.

It is normal, in fact some would say optimal to be a little nervous. Not paranoid, but some wobbly legs and butterfly stomachs are fine.

Now, the right way to get rid of this anxiousness is to be prepared. So what are the things you need to know about the first day of your job?

Here are a few guiding principles which will help you get your first day right. Keeping these in mind will prepare you and guide you on what action to take, and how to behave in a variety of situations that you may face on the first day.



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Get the when, where, who and what right

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Why? Because not all companies are alike. Some have well-staffed, trained HR departments who will give you all the information you need beforehand.

Lot of others might not have such well-established procedures especially if it's a smaller firm.

Your company may have multiple offices in the same city, the person who interviewed you may not be the person you are to report to... in today's tough times, your joining date may have been changed. (This has really happened to a batch mate and the change was not communicated to him due to some miscommunication).

So confirm which office you are to report to, on what day, at what time, who you are supposed to meet and what you are supposed to carry along.

Also enquire if you need to carry copies of your graduation certificate, photographs, a copy of your PAN card or address proof perhaps?

Usually companies open your salary account on the first day as a part of the induction process or joining formalities so find out what documents you need in advance.

It is easiest to get these things sorted out on the first day as part of the joining process rather than having to go back at a later date to get it done. It is troublesome both for you as well as HR if you have documents missing and have to get the process done later.

Needless to say, that you ought to be appropriately dressed and be on time. Find out the dress code beforehand. Err on the side of caution if in doubt.

If you are visiting the place for the first time, make sure to account for traffic, a flash auto strike and the sorts and leave well in time. You don't want to reach late on your first day.



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Acclimatise

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In most cases, your first day would include some sort of formal or informal induction.

Make the most of it to get to know the company and its people. Lot of people don't take this seriously, but I suggest you do.

It is a good way to get to know the structure and work culture of the company. Do you have well defined formal processes or do you just informally ask someone for what you want?

You will get to know who to approach to get your desktop set-up and what is the process for say getting your access card for example.

Ask smart questions, take notes but don't make any assumptions or be prejudiced by what you learn. Keep an open mind and a have positive outlook even if it isn't what you expected.

Induction is your chance to ask as many questions and know as much about the company and its people and processes as you want without being perceived as stupid or too lazy to do your own research. So make the most of it.



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Introduce yourself

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Once you are done with the joining formalities and corporate induction, one of the two will happen. You will either have a department level induction and training or you may directly be thrown into the deep end of the pool.

In either case, get to work. Below is a list of do's and don'ts to give you a sense of what 'get to work' means

If you have not been introduced to your colleagues, do make it a point to walk over and introduce yourself. Be mindful of the other person's time and make sure you are not disturbing them. Listen and learn.

Don't be so engrossed in telling them about yourself that you forget to learn about them, the work they do and other information about the team that they may be able to provide. Be yourself; be polite and friendly.



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Meet your boss

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If you have not met your manager, do find a good time and meet him at his convenience. Ask him/her what s/he has in mind for you for the rest of the day.

Find out what s/he wishes you to accomplish over the coming week and get pointers on how you should proceed.

If you don't know something, be forthright, but show a willingness to learn. Don't go overboard in the zeal to create an impression. Be realistic about your abilities and yet at the same time display a can-do attitude. It is difficult but try anyway.



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Get organised

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While you are getting around introducing yourself, also get organised.

Set up your desk. Don't be seen playing solitaire or minesweeper on your computer, nor reading novels or comics you may have brought along.

Instead find something work related to do. Reading documentation, and training manuals perhaps.

If someone is training you, focus on understanding the process rather than thinking of how you would do it differently (there will be time for that later, not today though).

Don't join the gossip mill, or criticise any particular person or process or the set-up in general.  For example, don't join the group in teasing a particular workmate until you know the person.

Be mindful of basic etiquettes like not talking loudly on your phone or using the office phone to make personal calls and the likes.



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Be the third monkey

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Like Gandhiji's third monkey, 'eyes and ears open, mouth shut!' Watch and decipher the unspoken rules of the team.

How many breaks does the team take?

Do they take individual breaks or does the whole team take a break together (this depends on the nature of work). 

Is there a formal structure that your team-mates follow for work related interactions or do they just walk over and talk it out? And so many other tiny things that form an integrated part of the prevalent yet undocumented work culture.

This will play a huge role in getting you accepted, and quickly put you on the path to a successful and meaningful career.

So all the best ! Having a rocking first day. Leave behind the floats and deep dive into the corporate world!

Sanket J Dantara is the author of From Cubicles 2 Cabins: A survival guide to your first job. He blogs at elfseries.wordpress.com and can be reached at: elfseries@gmail.com.



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