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7 Things You Should Do on Your First Day at the Office

These practical tips should ease those first-day job jitters. You've got this!

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Show up early

This might seem like a no-brainer, but many people don’t do it. Arriving five to 10 minutes early gives you time to settle in—or hit the bathroom if needed, yet it’s not so early that you come across as too eager. To make sure you can arrive early, give yourself extra time to get ready in the morning and to travel to your destination. If possible, consider practicing the full commute to work during rush hour in order to get used to the route and help you prepare for the unknown, suggests Teri Hockett of What’s For Work?, a career site for women. Here are some more expert-backed tips to help you succeed at work.

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Be enthusiastic, but not overbearing

It can be difficult to find the right balance between making an impact in your new role, and disrupting the balance of the delicate office ecosystem. You don’t want to walk in and ruffle any feathers, but you also don’t want to fade into the background either. Etiquette expert Rosalinda Oropeza Randall suggests that you try to balance energy and enthusiasm with humility on your first day in a new role to avoid coming across as arrogant rather than simply keen to learn.

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iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Avoid mentioning your old job

It might seem difficult not to draw comparisons between your new job and the one you just left, but you should definitely resist the urge. While you might think you’re adding value and showing your credentials when you talk about the work you used to do, you actually risk coming across as difficult or, even worse, a know-it-all. It can seem like you’re not a team player, or possibly that you’re pining for your old job. Instead of drawing comparisons, only mention similarities with your previous role in support of your new one. Here are some more things you should never, ever say at work.

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Take plenty of notes

While some form of stationery will be available at the new office, it’s a great idea to bring a small notebook and pen with you on your first day for jotting down notes. Don’t be shy about recording information that you know will be useful to you later, like names and passwords—and how to find the nearest bathroom. You’re likely to face data-overload on your first day, so taking notes is a great way to keep on top of things. Plus, researchers believe that making notes by hand can lead to better retention of information, including your coworkers’ names.

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Watch your body language

You’ve probably read that body language is important for job interviews, but it can also be a valuable tool in creating a lasting impression when you start a new job. On your first day, be mindful of conveying powerful body language—by smiling often and looking people in the eye while you’re having a conversation. And do your best to avoid negative body language, such as yawning, frowning, or standing with your hands in your pockets. Here are some body language tips that will make you more successful.

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Be positive and show interest

When you start a new role, there are usually social hierarchies and workplace dynamics that you’ll need to learn to navigate, and since you’ll probably be introduced to a lot of new people on your first day, it’s important to make a good impression. One key way is by conveying a positive attitude with everyone you encounter. You want to come across as energetic and interested in what they have to say, so ask questions, take notes, and aim to appear engaged while also offering your own input and ideas. But do strike a balance: If you ask too many questions or seem over-eager, that can be a turn-off. In fact, national work expert Lynn Taylor says that showing too much interest is a “waste of energy” because it seems forced.

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Step away from social media

These days, some of us practically stream our whole lives in real time over the internet. And while on your first day at the office you’re bound to be having all sorts of feelings—nerves, anxiety, joy, even boredom—resist the urge to share it on social media. This might seem like a pretty obvious piece of advice, but you’d be surprised at how many people have gotten into trouble in the workplace because of their internet activity. When it comes to updating your friends and followers about the status of your newfound employment, always err on the side of caution and assume your bosses are watching. In all likelihood, they probably are. Next, learn some more tips for starting a new job on the right foot.