Tips for Getting Settled on Your First Day in a New Career

Starting a new career is one of the most exciting things that can happen in your professional life. However, along with the excitement come challenges and, at times, stress. If you can prepare for the transition before your first day in your new role, you can minimize the anxiety.

Key Takeaways

Starting a new career is one of the most exciting things that can happen in your professional life. However, along with the excitement come challenges and, at times, stress. If you can prepare for the transition before your first day in your new role, you can minimize the anxiety.

In this article, we will share tips on how to settle into your new line of work to ensure a smooth transition. While we will focus on the things you should do on the first day of your job, we will also discuss what to do before you join, after 30 days, and even after the first 100 days at your job because these are critical to your success in your new career.

If you are amongst those who have chosen to take a risk and pursue a career change recently, then you must be wondering how to prepare for this new chapter in your professional life. 

After all, settling down even after a simple job change is sometimes a stressful thing. Any first day of work is understandably stressful because you must quickly become acquainted with places, processes, platforms, and people. 

Unmudl Tip: In case you're worried about your career change and the uncertainty that comes with it, check out this great guide on how to afford a career change without struggling.

Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course

Add to all of the above the uncertainty of a completely new line of work and you have a situation on your hands. Assuming, of course, there aren’t any issues that you have little or no control over, like poor company culture, all the rest can be managed by planning smartly.

According to a Jobvite survey, 30% of new employees leave their jobs within the first 90 days of being hired. However, settling into your new role does not have to be a painful experience. In fact, if you follow our tips, you can get off to a quick start that will leave you feeling at ease and confident in your new role.

In this guide, we will take you through the very first steps you need to take, starting a week before your first day on the job. We will share all the things you need to do to ensure you start strong on the very first day on the job in your new career.

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

Settling on your first day in a new career - why is it so important

First impressions are crucial and can last a lifetime. But how important are first impressions to your new career's long-term success? Quite a lot, in fact, as we will see below.

By the way, if you are in the process of applying for a job and are considering one with a career change, you should read our ultimate guide to creating a cover letter for a career change and this guide on how to ace your career change interview.

Now let's look at what the research says about your first few weeks on the job.

Related reading: How to Change Careers: The Ultimate Guide

Fact 1: First impressions

Scientists confirm that first impressions are annoyingly persistent. According to a 2010 University of Western Ontario study, even if you later present yourself in ways that contradict a person's first impression of you, their initial judgment tends to linger—especially if they first met you in the same context.

Make sure you also read: Making Your Mark: 7 Key Steps to Impress Your New Boss from Day One

Fact 2: The countdown

The majority of managers and senior executives give new employees less than three months to demonstrate their worth. According to a Robert Half study, 63% of CFOs give a new employees less than three months to prove their worth—and 9% give them less than a month.

Fact 3: How you start your new job counts toward eventual success

While the Jobvite study we mentioned above talked about 30% of employees leaving their jobs in the first 90 days, a second study of 9,000 job seekers from 11 countries by Robert Half found that a staggering 91% of employees seriously consider quitting their jobs within the first month. 

Poor management, inconsistency between how a job was advertised and how it plays out in real life, failure to fit in with the corporate culture, and a poor onboarding experience are all reasons that a new hire might be let go. How you begin a job has a significant impact on how things go in the long run.

Armed with this knowledge, let’s start preparing for our new career shall we?

Happy african new employee unpacking belongings on first working day
Image by yanalya on Freepik

Tips for one week before you start

Do your homework

Success in your new career starts even before your first day on the job. We highly recommend that you research the company, competitor, and your new industry as a whole before your first day.

  1. Because you have switched careers you will be new to this line of work. We are assuming you already have done all the research and acquired any necessary skills required to do the job efficiently… which is probably why you were hired. This is the time to brush up on those skills to prepare you for their practical application. Review your training notes or study material. Use the internet to gain as much knowledge as possible.
  1. Go through your new employer’s social media posts to quickly find out what the company is talking about. Have they launched a new marketing campaign? Is there a message from the CEO or other directors?

    Going through the social feed you can also get a sense of office culture and appropriate attire. Another good idea is to look at your coworkers' LinkedIn profiles. This will not only help you understand the company they work for but also help you become a bit familiar with your future colleagues.
  1. It may also be beneficial, depending on your role, to examine your company's competitors.

If HR did not provide you with a first-day checklist, reach out a few days prior and ask if there's anything they'd like you to bring or prepare. Obtain a copy of the employee handbook before your first day so you can review it and ensure you are familiar with everything that is required of you in terms of policy etc.

Test run everything

Test your commute if you'll be working on-site. How long will it take you to get to your office? What is the best route to take daily?

If you'll be working from home, test your internet connection, computer, software, camera, mic, and any other necessary equipment. You can relax with confidence knowing that everything is running smoothly.

Showing a desire to be proactive and prepared will make a great impression and demonstrate to your employer that you want to get off to the best possible start and be effective from day one. Additionally, this will give your managers the confidence that they took the right decision by betting on you even though you are coming from another industry. 

Connect with the person you will be reporting to

Your boss picked you over a bunch of applicants, and they want you to succeed. Send them an email or a Slack message to check in before the first day. Ask them about how people in the office dress for work even when working from home.

Ask if there is anything specific you should know on your first day. You should also ask if you need to bring something or prepare in any special way. Finally, enquire about what you might be expected to do in your first week.

Confirm your schedule for the first day

Among your top priorities of things to do before starting a new job is confirming your schedule for the first day.

Don't assume you know what time to arrive or when to take your lunch break. Even if these things are in the job description or the employee handbook, important details might be missing. 

For example, the job description might say you need to start at 9 am but there might be an early meeting at 8 am scheduled on the day that everyone is expected to attend.

Magnus Wake, a friend in the IT industry, once sat in an empty office on his first day wondering why everybody was late for work. It turned out that every Wednesday morning there was a meeting on another floor that everyone was expected to attend.

To avoid an incident like this, inquire about schedules and routines ahead of time. When are you expected to arrive on that specific day? What commitments do you have on the first day? When does everyone usually leave? When and for how long is your lunch break?

female office executive shaking hand of new male team member employee
Image by fabrikasimf on Freepik

Tips for your first day of the new career

Week one success is all about balance. You want to make a good first impression, but don't put too much pressure on yourself to get things right the first time. The goal is to learn about your new workplace and find your place within it.

Arrive 15 to 30 minutes early

Arriving late for work, particularly during your first week, is never a good sign. On your first day, use the test run you did earlier for your commute so that you can account for traffic, getting lost, and parking. 

Aiming to arrive 30 minutes early on your first day takes care of any unforeseen delays. Even if you get stuck in a traffic jam you should still have more than enough of a buffer to arrive on time without feeling panicked.

And if there are no delays, it gives you a chance to go get a coffee and relax for a half hour before starting work. It's a win-win situation that puts you in the best position to avoid being late for your first day at the new job.

Introduce yourself to everyone

According to Keith Rollag in the Harvard Business Review, anxiety in new situations can be caused in part by a lack of confidence in how to introduce ourselves. It's a natural tendency when you're new, you don't want to draw attention to yourself. 

However, you want your enthusiasm to shine through in the early days of a new job. So, find the right moment and give a quick, energetic introduction to the people you don't yet know.

If meeting new people is extremely important to you, you can enlist the assistance of others. Inform your manager that introducing yourself is a top priority for you, and request a list of people you should meet.

In meetings, you could request that the organizer give you some time at the start or end to introduce yourself. Don't interrupt a meeting to introduce yourself, and don't speak too loudly in public places. 

Take note of how the other person reacts as you introduce yourself. Keep it brief if they appear distracted. If they appear receptive, you might want to get to know them better. Making someone else feel heard is a great way to make a good first impression.

Introducing yourself is particularly important when changing careers because people will always have that question about why you switched your line of work.

Unmudl Tip: Plan ahead of time. Prepare your short pitch and opening lines ahead of time so you can have a script ready. 

Explain what attracted you to your new career. Don’t say anything negative like, “I had a bad boss,” or “that whole industry was a dump.” All that will reflect negatively on you.

Instead, focus on the positive things that attracted you to your new line of work and show your passion for it. 

Make an effort to remember names

You can accomplish this by repeating the person's name back to them and making a quick note about them when you part ways. But don't become overwhelmed by the need to remember everyone's name. Interacting with people naturally over a course of time will help you recall who is who.

If you forget someone's name, the best policy is to be honest. Just say, "I apologize, I've been absorbing a lot of new information over the last few days. Could you please remind me of your name?”

Make friends

Ask a new colleague to lunch or coffee after you've made some introductions and gotten a sense of who you'll be working with. It could be the person next to you or another newcomer who arrived at the same time as you. 

Creating a trustworthy relationship will make you feel more at ease as you get to know your new workplace. Research by the World Economic Forum has shown that having social ties at work can increase productivity.

You may not find your best friend or develop a deep relationship with anyone during the first week. However, even in the short term, finding someone you can relate to will provide some much-needed stability.

Ask pertinent questions

When changing your line of work, knowing what to do will help you do your job better, so if you want to get settled on your first day in a new career, ask pertinent questions as much as possible. 

You will quickly catch up if you ask your leaders and peers for new information. However, during your first week, you should figure out when to ask questions. Here are some pointers on when and how to ask:

  1. Consider what you need to know about your work. In some cases, you may require permission, while in others, you may require advice or validation. You'll be able to ask more specific questions and waste less time if you're more specific.
  1. Prioritize the information you require. For example, if you can't get your computer to work or if you need to find where a weekly meeting is held, you need help right away. On the other hand, if you are unsure about your team's quarterly goals, you should probably wait to discuss them with your manager in the coming weeks.
  1. Make a list of important questions so you don't forget. You can ask your manager these questions during a one-on-one meeting. You should quickly become acquainted with your manager's preferences - do they prefer to be questioned via email or in person? 

If you have a lot of questions for one person or group, consider scheduling a meeting instead of dropping by their desk or office. You can include a list of your questions in the meeting invitation. This allows them to prepare their responses.

In-house training

Because you are new to this career, find out what training, workshops, or learning opportunities exist in your new organization. If there are, sign up for them immediately as they will help you master your new career.

If there are none, find people in the organization who are willing to mentor you and guide you.

Explore the new workplace

If you work in an office, look for the restrooms, stairs, and elevators. Find out where the coffee machine is and where the places to eat lunch and take breaks are. Your office might offer other amenities like a recreation area or even daycare for children. 

Explore your new workplace and if you haven't been given a tour, ask a coworker for one.

Start developing a routine in the workplace. Early identification and establishment of routines at the office will provide you with peace of mind and help you settle in faster.

Quickly become productive and contribute to adding value

Employees are hired because either someone left a position or there was a large gap in work output. In short, you were hired to get work done. Taking it easy in your first week will start piling up work and this leads to unnecessary pressure later so become productive quickly.

Your main priority in the first week should be to soak up as much information as you can because this career is new to you and there will be a lot to learn. However, consider challenging yourself to add value in small or large ways. Here are some ideas for you to do just that:

Ask your boss what work problem is keeping him up at night.

Solving this problem may even be the reason why you were hired in the first place. Spend your first week thinking about how to solve that problem. Don't push it or step on anyone's toes, but if you can do something, do it.

Are there key tasks that are critical for your team's performance?

Consider your interview. Was there a specific task or requirement that was specifically highlighted? Consider writing a brief proposal outlining how you would approach the challenge and get to work on it.

Tips for the first 30 days

Congratulations, you have made it through the first week. It's time to settle into your role after the excitement of the first few days on the job. This first month's goal is to learn how to apply your existing and newly acquired skill set to the challenges and opportunities that this organization faces.

Get to know your team and department better

It's critical to keep making new connections and allowing others to get to know you. Simply being present with your new team and paying close attention to how everyone works and collaborates will provide you with valuable insights into the company and group culture.

Organize yourself and form good work habits

This job is a new beginning and an excellent opportunity to break free from old routines. During the first few weeks, consider how you'll organize your calendar and to-do lists, how you'll manage your time, and what skills or practices you'd like to develop.

Discuss your performance metrics with your manager

During the first month, you and your manager should discuss your mutual expectations. This includes knowing how you will collaborate, how you will obtain the resources you require to do your job well, and how your job performance will be evaluated.

  1. When having this conversation, come prepared and make good use of your time. When you're looking for advice or information, you should drive the conversation.
  2. Put yourself in the shoes of your boss. If your expectations do not match, try to see it from their point of view and look for areas of overlap or compromise.
  3. Determine early successes. You most likely have a lot on your plate. Prioritize tasks that support your manager's goals as you learn more about what they value.

Tips for the first 100 days

Even the President of America is evaluated after his first 100 days in office and you will likely be no exception. During these first few months, the goal is to take ownership of your new role. During this time, you should prepare to do your best work yet.

Set a couple of achievable but challenging goals

We have more potential than we usually give ourselves credit for. Set ambitious goals for yourself, work toward those goals by immersing yourself in situations that will help you achieve them, and then repeat the process, aiming higher each time. 

You may not always achieve your goals, but the process of applying yourself zealously is where significant personal and professional growth occurs.

Time to establish boundaries

You may have spent the first month of your new job bending some of your rules. Perhaps you arrived early and stayed late, or you took on extra projects to assist others. 

This is a natural reaction in a new environment and you naturally want to be accommodating so that others will accept you. However, in your first few months on the job, you should begin to re-establish the boundaries that allow you to do your best work. 

Ask for a 100-day review

Remember those performance metrics and success criteria we asked you to find out from your manager? Well, a 100-day review for new employees is common practice in most organizations. It may happen officially or unofficially as your seniors evaluate your performance.

Even if your new employer does not have a formalized review at this time, you may want to request an informal one from your manager. This is a quick way to check in with each other and make sure you're still on the same page. 

You can provide an update on the goals you set out in your first month in your review. You can also look ahead - what goals does your manager expect you to meet in the next three months? What about the following year?

To sum things up

The first month of a new job in a new career is often a stressful time. There are new skills to learn, new colleagues and customers, new office culture, and new industry jargon. On top of all that you are always wondering if you're making a good impression.

But instead of worrying about it and putting yourself in a negative space follow our checklist to help you get a flying start from day one of your new career. These tips will infuse you with confidence and positive energy as you see things fall into place.

Besides this great guide, to assist you, we have compiled a list of books and podcasts that will give you an advantage if you are changing careers. Links to these invaluable resources are provided below:

We hope this guide will be a great resource for you to get settled starting your very first day in a new career.

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Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Click to learn more about Unmudl and Amazon Original Course
Last updated on:
May 20, 2024

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