Your Career Journey: What to expect on your first day of work (Part 2)


We’ve already looked at what you can do to prepare for your first day of work in this post. So now, we will look at what you can expect on the big day.

On the day

There are many articles addressing what you should do on your first day of work. We summarise some of the most important points below. You can have a look at the full articles here and here.

  • Prepare questions to ask beforehand. Questions show curiosity and a desire to learn.
  • Arrive early, but enter the building on time. Being early is sometimes considered to be as inconvenient as someone arriving late.
  • Smile! First impressions count, so make sure you come across as friendly and approachable.
  • Look and play the part – dressing up on your first day is preferable to under-dressing.
  • Don’t be shy – reach out and introduce yourself to others around you.
  • Don’t try too hard – your company doesn’t expect you to change the world on your first day! You’re already hired. You don’t need to try impress everyone right off the bat. Be yourself – after all, that’s why they appointed you. ?
  • Don’t turn down lunch, even if you’ve packed your own. This is a great way to get to know your new team members in a non-threatening environment.
  • Listen and observe. There will be a lot of new information, new people and new environments. So take it all in and make a note of questions that you want to ask.
  • Put your cellphone on silent. Be 100% present on your first day. This will help make a great first impression.
  • Pay attention to your body language – make sure your words and body language align.
  • Be available to your boss. Even on your first day, don’t get so busy with HR forms and special projects that you forget why you’re there.

What about the logistics?

Your first day of work, or first week is often accompanied by a lot of forms. Sometimes there may be an onboarding process too.

Usually this process would include the following:
  • Going for an office tour. You could also ask for an office map if the building is big and confusing.
  • Meeting your line manager and team members.
  • Lots of forms! Have your medical aid details, tax reference number and bank details available.
  • Setting up of technology (for example, laptops and other equipment).
  • Orientation videos that explain who the company is and explains the company culture.
  • A photo of you for an ID card. So dress professionally and be well-groomed.
  • The company may assign you a buddy or coach. This person will help you with the ins and outs of the business. For example, how to use the printer or the coffee machine.

This is a whole new environment, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

There are a few things you can do that will help you ease into it.
  • Pace yourself – you don’t have to do it all or know it all on day one.
  • Expect to be nervous and plan accordingly.
  • Ask for an organogram to help you remember names and roles.
  • Expect to meet people whose names you will likely forget. Be willing to go back to them and ask for their names again.
  • Listen and observe. This earns a repeat mention!
  • Be on your best behaviour. This is a professional environment, not a social party.
  • Expect to make mistakes. Others expect the same. Don’t be afraid to admit that you’ve done something wrong. In fact, honesty about the situation helps to resolve it faster.
  • Ask HR in advance if there will be any other new employees starting at the same time as you. It helps to know if you won’t be alone.

ChairOffice has also done a great infographic on How To Survive Your First Day At The Office.

first day of work


In conclusion, there will be a lot of new things to experience on your first day of work. You can expect information overload during your first day and first few weeks. But, cut yourself some slack. Everyone has been here before! And, you’re not alone.

Last thought for today…

The expert in anything was once a beginner.


Finally, as always, drop us a comment below to share your first day experiences.