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Start Your New Job on the Right Foot

Congratulations! After weeks or months of searching, you've finally landed a promising job or internship. Now that you have your foot in the door, it's time to put your best foot forward to make a good first impression with your new boss and coworkers.

If you're an intern, making a positive impression could lead to a future job offer with the company. If you're a new employee, showing that you fit in with the company culture - and can get the job done - could, over time, result in additional responsibilities and greater financial reward. 

"On your first day, ask your manager about his or her expectations," advises HR Consultant Tricia Feuerborn who oversees talent acquisition at American Century Investments. "In addition to learning about company protocol, consider inviting your coworkers to lunch so you can start building relationships."

You'll hear lots of new names on your first day. When introduced, say the name back or ask for to have it repeated if you didn't catch it the first time.

Many companies provide an employee handbook, either before your first day or when you arrive. Read through it as soon as you have a chance. Ask questions if anything is unclear, Tricia suggests.

Do's she recommends include:
Do dress appropriately for the job. Ask about the dress code prior to you first day. If uncertain, it's never a bad idea to be overdressed.

Do arrive early. Try a test run at the time of day you'll need to head to work to see how much time you need to allow.

Do bring your driver's license, social security number and emergency contact information to fill out company paperwork. If you have a schedule indicating where to go after meeting with HR, print it or have a copy on your phone.

Do bring a notebook and pen so you can write down names and take notes on any instructions you receive.

"Stay alert and focused," Tricia adds. "You want to look engaged and show enthusiasm for your new job."

Don'ts she cautions against include:
Don't use any social media until you understand the company's practices. Many employers monitor computer usage and track things which distract from work.

Don't talk negatively about former employers or your prior coworkers.

Don't jump in and start trying to make changes immediately. Seek to understand why current practices were put into place.

Don't be the first to leave at the end of the workday.

By putting your best self forward, you'll reassure your employer they made the right choice when they picked you to join their organization.

Teachable Moments

Before the first day at work, talk to your son or daughter about how to prepare:

  • Have them role play ways to make a good impression. Watch for proper posture, poise and a firm handshake.
  • The night before, talk about what they plan to wear and how much time they will need in order to eat breakfast and make the commute so they arrive early.

"I also teach my kids to look people in the eye, and have been told what a positive impression it makes," adds HR Consultant Tricia Feuerborn.

"The most important thing is to impress upon your child that, ‘You own it. This job is your responsibility and you must be accountable for your actions.'"