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Starting your new job

How to prepare for your new graduate job

  • Take time to prepare and find out everything you need to for your first day
  • Plan your outfit and commute well in advance
  • Be organised and carry a notebook around to jot down notes and reminders
  • Be sociable and make an effort to get to know every team member
  • Make sure you receive regualar feedback to help you grow and develop
  • Enjoy your new job!

You've nailed the CV, smashed the over letter, survived the interview process and landed yourself your first graduate job - congratulations! Starting out in the real world in your first job is really exciting but it can also be a bit daunting in the weeks or days leading up to your start date. Alongside the lifestyle changes of adapting to a work life routine also come the worries of how to prepare for your first day and how to make sure you make a good first impression.

To help ensure that you get off to the best possible start, we've jotted down our top tips on how to prepare and settle into the working world.

Once you've accepted the offer

From the moment you get word from your employer that you have been offered a job, there are some questions you should think about asking to ensure you are as prepared as possible before the big day! You may find that you receive all the information you need in an email or through the post, but if not, it's perfectly acceptable to get in touch with your new employer to make sure you are as prepared as can be. Here are some points that you might want to check with your employer:

  • When and how often is your pay day?
  • Do you have any long standing or religious holidays you know you will need time off for?
  • Do you know how much holiday you're entitled to?
  • Do you know your working hours? Are they flexible? (Should have been stated in your contract).
  • If you are planning on driving to work, do you know where to park?
  • How will you get there if not?
  • Which perks are you entitled to?

First day preparation

Preparation is key here to ensuring that you start your new role on the right foot. Make sure you know all the information you need for the first day well in advance to avoid any early morning stresses. Some good logistical questions to know the answers to are:

  1. What time are you expected to come in?
  2. What is the name of the person you are meeting?
  3. Where are you meeting them? Outside the office? In the lobby?
  4. Do you need to bring anything e.g. a laptop?
  5. Is there a canteen at your workspace or are there many eateries nearby for lunch? Or should you bring your own?
  6. Do you need any cash to hand?

Once you know where you are going and when you need to arrive, plan your journey. It is always advised to leave enough time to allow for transport delays, cancellations, traffice jams, bad weather and getting lost! Check that there are no road works or scheduled engineering works which might disrupt your journey. And remember that rush hour traffic and tubes are very different at rush hour compared to 3 o'clock in the afternoon, so make sure you leave enought time to not arrive late and flustered on our first day.

The way you dress will help you feel confident on your first day. It will also have an impact of your team's first impression of you. Think back to how you dressed to your interview and how your interviewer dressed to help you make a judgement on how smart you need to be. Startups and SMEs tend to have a more relaxed dressed code but it's always better to be too smart than too casual! Have a look at our interview dress guide to remind yourself about the typical dress codes in different companies.

It is always a good idea to arrive with anything you might need, 'just in case'. We always recommend taking a notepad and pen - you'll look prepared and you'll be given so much new information on your first day it's very easy to forget things.

And finally, make sure you get a good night's sleep. You want to be alert and ready for your first day, which is bound to be tiring from all the information you'll be absorbing. Be sensible and don't have a wild night out the day before you start your new job!

Your first day

You've prepared, made the journey and now you're in the office ready to start your first day. A great tip for your first days and weeks is don't be afraid to ask questions. You are new and no one expects you to know everything. Remember - there is no such thing as a stupid question! It's better you ask about something rather than do it wrong. Have your notepad to hand to jot down questions that arise and their answers for future reference.

Most importantly, just be yourself on your first day. They have met you before and chosen you because you are a great fit for their business so relax and enjoy getting to grips with your new role and meeting the team. We would recommend not bringing any lunch on your first day so that you can grab some with your team members and use it as a chance to get to know them better.

Your first month

You will soon start to settle in, it takes a little time, so don't get frustrated during your first few weeks as you're still getting to grips with how everything works and how the team operate. It is surprising how quickly you will find yourself getting used to the routine though. Do get stuck in as much as possible and be confident in your abilities. At a smaller company it's usually easier to mould your role to your interests and areas you would like to improve in or experience. Use the first month to try out as many aspects of the role as possible and understand which areas you enjoy and which you need to work on more.

Your first few months

By the end of your first month you should have a clear idea of what is expected from you. Take time to speak to your manager and team to understand what the expectations are for your role. Find out what they expect from you at the beginning and also what they would like you to do after you have been in the job a bit longer. Learn what the current priorities are for the company and think about how your role fits into this bigger picture.

Make sure you receive feedback after your first month and continue to do so on a regular basis. Don't be afraid to ask for it if your manager doesn't offer it. Knowing your strengths and your weaknesses is the only way you'll improve and be able to develop and add more value.

Starting your first job is daunting, but you'll find that it is also really exciting. Bring your personality and passion to work with you and make the most of every opportunity. Keep an open mind and remember that your entire career won't be defined by your first graduate job. Use it as a chance to develop your skills, find out what you're good and (and what you're not!), and to learn as much as possible.

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