How to Start a New Job Successfully

You made it through the job search and interview process and just accepted a fantastic job offer — congratulations!

Take a moment to celebrate the occasion and be proud of yourself.

After patting yourself on the back, you’ve got more to do before starting your new job.

Now that you’ve secured a new role, you need to prepare for your first day. We’ll show you how to begin a new position successfully.

There are two phases to preparing for your new job: before your first day and your first day. Let’s take a look at what you’ll want to do right after you say “yes.”

Before Your First Day at a New Job

A lot needs to happen between your verbal job offer and your first day of employment. Make sure you take care of each of these 9 key points:

1. Review and Sign the Offer

After you accept your job offer verbally, the company will send you a formal offer letter. Review it carefully to make sure the compensation package matches what you discussed with the firm.

Chances are, the legal team had a hand in writing the document, so if anything seems strange or you don’t understand specific clauses, ask questions before signing and submitting it.

Once you’re satisfied with the letter’s contents, add your signature and send it back.

Pro Tip: See if you can finagle a short break between the two jobs. Even a couple of days of extra time off will give you time to relax and regroup.

2. Submit Any Paperwork

You’ll fill out most of your new hire paperwork during orientation, but the company may need you to complete some forms beforehand.

If the firm wants to run a background check or drug screen on you, it will likely happen post-offer. The organization will need your written consent to do these investigations.

3. Withdraw from Other Opportunities

If you’re in the running for other job opportunities, you should contact them and graciously withdraw yourself as a candidate.

Job seekers (rightfully) despise being ghosted by hiring managers. Don’t leave any companies wondering what happened to you.

4. Submit Your Resignation

Now comes the tricky part — telling your boss you’re leaving your current position to start a new one.

Prepare a written resignation letter in advance, and schedule a meeting with your manager.

At the meeting, express gratitude for the opportunity to work with them and inform them of your pending departure. Before you leave their office, give them your resignation letter.

It’s customary to give a two-week notice. But if the work environment is harmful to your wellbeing, it’s okay to skip the formality. Plus, your company may terminate your employment immediately after you resign — so be prepared for that.

Pro Tip: Decline counteroffers. Your company may try to entice you to stay with a higher salary or extra perks. Remember what prompted your career move in the first place and maintain your resolve to leave.

5. Train Your Replacement

During your final weeks with the company, try to train your replacement. Now’s not the time to say anything negative about the job or the company. Leave your replacement with helpful advice to succeed in the position.

If the firm needs to hire externally to fill your spot, that may not be possible. But, you can still leave helpful notes and instructions to make the transition smooth for the new person.

6. Meet with Human Resources

Your HR department may want to meet with you before your departure for an exit interview and to provide you some paperwork.

While it should be voluntary, an exit interview can be an excellent opportunity for you to provide candid feedback to the company about your employment experience and motivation for leaving.

If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your thoughts, it’s okay to decline a specific question during your conversation.

Make sure to get information about your benefits. If your new health insurance doesn’t kick in for a while, ask how you can enroll in COBRA to continue coverage.

You’ll also want to learn how to roll over your retirement plan (if you choose to do that).

7. Say Goodbye

While you’re excited about starting your new position, you might also feel a little sad. You may have made friends with some of your co-workers or even your boss.

Take the time to go out to lunch with them and exchange contact information to continue any relationships.

Your professional paths may cross again in the future. An ex-coworker or employer can be a valuable resource. You never know if or when you’ll be in the job market again or could use their services in your new position.

8. Clean Your Desk

Before you leave for good, you need to clean your desk. Go through every drawer and cabinet in your workspace and remove any personal items.

Organize files. Wipe down surfaces. Make sure the work environment is as neat as possible. You’d want someone to do that for you.

While you’re finalizing things with your soon-to-be former employer, don’t forget to check in with your new company periodically.

Confirm your start date and time. Ask any remaining questions about the dress code and any security protocols (i.e., ID badges). Make sure the organization has everything they need from you before your first day.

Pro Tip: Send a thank you letter to the hiring manager and HR department. Express your excitement for the new role and the opportunity to work with them. You’ll stand out in a good way.

Your First Day

Your first day is finally here! It’s normal to be nervous, but the company hired you for a reason. So, go into the office with confidence and a willingness to learn.

Here are 4 tips to have a great first day — and set the tone for success in your career at the organization:

1. Prepare the Night Before

You can take some of the pressure off your first day by preparing the night before.

Choose your outfit. Pack your work bag with everything you’ll need, like pens, notebooks, USB drives, a water bottle, cough drops, tissues, etc. That way, all you’ll have to do is get dressed and drive to the office.

Pro Tip: You’ll have to fill out lots of paperwork on your first day. To be ready for it, you’ll need to know your social security number. You’ll also need to bring banking information for direct deposit and identity and work authorization documentation for Form I-9.

2. Make a Good First Impression

We’re not trying to scare you, but it’s essential to make an excellent first impression on your first day. Don’t worry — it’s not as hard as you think.

Just follow these tips for success:

Pay attention to your appearance. Today isn’t the day to be underdressed.

  • Show up on time (5 minutes early is great!). Leave your house extra early in case you hit traffic.
  • Be friendly. You want to be seen as approachable.
  • Ask lots of questions. Now’s the time to be a sponge!
  • Take lots of notes. It will help you remember everyone you meet and details about the company’s current initiatives.
  • Find out if your boss needs anything from you. Chances are, they’ll want you to focus on onboarding and the orientation and initial training — but it doesn’t hurt to ask and get the lines of communication going.

Pro Tip: While you understandably want to wow your new leadership team and colleagues, try not to make a big splash right away. It’s okay to share your ideas but remember, you’re still brand new to the company, even if you have years of experience. Learn more about communication styles and how the firm operates before you try to make big impacts.

3. Get the Most Out of Orientation

Orientation is your chance to get critical background information about the organization including the company culture and corporate policies — and learn about your employee benefits.

While the material may be a little dry, try your best to stay engaged. Here’s how you can get the most out of the experience:

  • Watch every video, and read all of the literature.
  • Take detailed notes — especially about things that relate to your job description, job performance, or desired employee benefits.
  • Ask a question on anything you’re not clear about.
  • Learn how and when to enroll in your benefits.
  • Bring home the benefits-related material, so you can review it further and discuss it with your spouse/partner (if applicable).
  • Fill out any HR-related paperwork promptly, so you won’t have to think about it later.

If you remain attentive during orientation, you’ll have a leg up on your peers that don’t!

4. Become Part of the Team

Forming initial bonds with your new team is arguably the most important thing you’ll do during your first day(s) with the firm. To build rapport with everyone in the office:

  • Don’t be shy. Say hi and make small talk (even if you really dislike small talk).
  • Ask people about their roles and professional backgrounds.
  • Share what you’ll be doing for the firm and a bit about your work history and credentials.
  • Let your teammates show you the ropes and ask them a lot of questions.
  • Say “yes” to coffee break and lunch invitations.
  • Show your personality a little, so others know who you are outside of your profession.

The goal is to break the ice, learn the team dynamics, get a good feel for the office environment, and start to see where you fit into the bigger picture.

Keep in mind that it’ll probably take more than a day for you to get fully gelled with the group. But you can take significant steps right away if you follow the practices above.

Related: Handling a Difficult Colleague at Work

Final Thoughts

Embarking on a new professional adventure is a thrilling time. Accepting the job offer is just the first step.

Following the advice in this article can help you kick off a solid start to your new position. And before you know it you’ll be a successful contributor instead of the “new person” on the team.

Article written by Laura

Originally published at on May 10, 2021.

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