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May 19, 2017

How to get through the first day/week on the job

First days are a nerve filled occasion with excitement and apprehension in equal measure. Ben gives his top tips on surviving your first day in a new role.

So you've received a fantastic offer at a charity you've always wanted to work for. The role looks great and matches your skills perfectly and your new manager and work colleagues seemed friendly and personable in your interviews. You've been counting down your notice period and are looking forward to the first day; you've even circled the Monday morning with a red pen in your excitement.

There does remain a couple of niggling doubts in your mind - going into unknown territory where you're the new person can feel a little daunting but it doesn't need to be. The key is to learn the tricks, relax and you'll breeze through that first day on the job.

Before you start

After accepting your new job you should invest time in further understanding the charity. Use your notice period to read up on news items and campaigns the charity is working on. Ask your new line manager if there is any preparation you can do before starting. 

Immerse yourself in work they currently do; this will allow you to hit the ground running on your first day. You can also ask what the dress code is so that you blend in with the team from the first day - there is nothing worse than turning up in a suit when everyone else is in jeans!

What am I doing here?

On the first morning it's perfectly natural to find yourself questioning whether you're in the right place. You're likely to feel a little lost. Try to familiarise yourself with your surroundings, take a little time to investigate the route from your desk to the kitchen, bathroom or even the photocopier. Don't be afraid to ask what time lunch is (usually nearer 12pm!). On the first day you're usually expected to bring in various documents such as passport and bank details so don't forget these!  

Be confident and remember to smile!

Confidence is an important quality for career success. You'll be meeting lots of people in your first couple days at the charity so when you are shown around by your new manager, hold out your hand to your new colleagues, smile and introduce yourself. They'll see you as someone dedicated to making the company better.

Sit with your new manager and discuss a plan of action for the first couple of weeks; discuss with them what they would like you to achieve in the first couple of weeks and begin working towards this.

Listen as well as talk

Listening  and sitting with colleagues lets you learn as much as possible in the first couple of days; I'm a big advocate of watching those who are successful and adapting how they work to suit your own method and style. Always feel free to ask your colleagues for help, you'll find that more often than not they will help you out.

Make a point of speaking up in your first team meeting; you'll break down an invisible barrier while you watch the nodding heads around the room! Consider taking notes on the various rules and processes of the charity.

Be proactive; it's likely that you'll be given a couple of straightforward tasks to get you settled in, after you've completed these don't just sit there, go to your manager and inform them that you're ready for the next challenge!

Your colleagues

No one expects you to have everyone's name in the charity memorised by the end of the first day or week but it's a good idea to learn the names of every member of your team. Some charities allocate a "buddy" to help you out in the first couple of days; they can give you tips and how to navigate your way through the charity's procedures along with any office politics. Also find out if the team likes to socialise or if there are any company activities, go along to these, it will help you fit in.

At the end of the day

So you got through your first day unscathed, have met your new colleagues, introduced yourself and familiarised yourself with the workings of the office. It is a good idea to let your boss know that you are about to leave in case there was anything they wanted to tell you. Don't forget to say goodbye to your new colleagues at the end of the day.

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