Seven tips for starting your first job after university

You’ve just landed your first proper job after studying for your degree. This is an exciting time – but also nerve-wracking, especially thinking about your first day at work. 

Walking into a new office for the first time can seem daunting, especially if you haven’t worked in one before.

But don’t worry, with some simple advice you can feel more prepared and be ready to make a positive first impression. And remember, if you can deal with the nerves in your job interview, you can handle your first day of work!

Have a great CV

Before you can even start your first day at work, there is something you will need: a great CV. When you’re applying for jobs, you’ll naturally need to send in a CV. Unfortunately, you mightn’t have much real-life work experience in the career path you’re interested in. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck, though. You still have options, and it’s just a matter of making yourself look great.

Getting CV experts to help you makes a massive difference. With professional help, you can create a CV that gets you to an interview. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t go this route, and you’ll get your first job after university before you know it.

Get your CV right, and you’ll be a good fit for the job you land – which will make actually starting it much easier as you’ll know you can do everything your new boss expects of you.

Once you do land that job, here are seven suggestions to ensure you ace the first day.

1) Get there on time

This may sounds obvious, but make sure you get off to the right start by getting to work on time. According to The Independent, 590,000 people are late to work every day in the UK. This is bad enough for an established employee, but it doesn’t make a great initial impression on your first day. 

To ensure that you’re not unintentionally late, thanks to bad traffic or public transport, it’s best to allow a generous buffer of time when leaving home. If you can, do a test run the week before, just to see how long it takes you to make the journey in rush hour, and to be confident you won’t get lost on the big day!

If you arrive early on your first day, you can use the extra time to scope out the nearby area. Are there any nice coffee shops, cafes or shops nearby that you might want to visit at lunch? 

2) Look the part

It’s essential to dress appropriately on you first day. So make sure you know what you are expected to wear to the office, and what kind of dress code is acceptable. If you don’t know, take a look at photos of the company online and take a look at what the employees are wearing. Or contact the person who recruited you; they won’t mind being asked. 

If you look good, you feel good too. Your new boss will also appreciate the effort you have made to look the part.

3) Be eager and interested

Being interested confirms to your new manager that they have made the right choice in hiring you. And there are three ways you can do this: be willing to learn new skills, taking notes and asking questions. 

Jotting down notes will help you to understand how things run in your new workplace and it gives you insight into the bigger picture. Also it shows your employer that you are listening and taking in everything that is going on. 

Try remembering these key questions:

  • What shall I do next?
  • Is there anything that I can do to help?

Asking questions shows that you want to know more and makes you come across interested and eager. You should have a think about what sort of questions you want to know about your new company.

From these questions you can take notes and you could be a pro at your job by the second day!

4) Say hello to your new colleagues and prepare to introduce yourself 

Make sure you make a positive first impression by smiling at your new colleagues. And don’t be shy – go and introduce yourself to people sitting nearby. Try to remember people’s names, too.

Not only will this make you seem like a brilliant, positive addition to the company, you’ll spread some happy and positive vibes around the workplace, making everyone’s day better.

Your new colleagues will probably want to get to know you and if you are nervous, it can be daunting to think what to say. 

To help you from feeling stuck for words, why not prepare a couple of sentences in your head about yourself? Here are some topics you could form into an introducing sentence:

  • Your hobby
  • What you do on the weekends
  • What university/ college you came from
  • Your role at this new job

5) Make a friend

Try and befriend someone, if possible. This can make you feel less alone for your first day and they will be able to introduce you to more people. If possible, go to lunch with them. This gives you a chance to get to know one and other and tells people in the work place that you are ready to socialise.

If you are feeling nervous and struck for what to say, here are some small talk ideas:

  • How long have you been working here for?
  • Have you had any previous jobs?
  • Where did you study?
  • What role do you have at the workplace?
  • However it doesn’t just have to be about work:
  • What do you like to do for fun?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • Do you have any hobbies?
  • What sorts of things interest you?

6) Put your phone away

This one goes without saying. You need to be present at your new job and a phone going off doesn’t give a good impression. It’s also distracting to your colleagues. So make sure that it’s switched off in your pocket or in your bag.

7) Steer clear of any office gossip

Every workplace will have gossip, and you really don’t want to get involved on your first day as you don’t know the company politics and people’s motives. Getting caught in drama from the start can give people a bad impression of you. 

If you do hear gossip around you, the best approach is to keep your ears open and your mouth closed. And take the time to form your own opinions about people – don’t rely on third hand information. 

Remember, this is the first day of your career!

Whatever happens on your first day, try to remember that it is just that: the first day. Maybe you felt nervous, maybe your new colleagues seemed strange, maybe the work was tough, and perhaps you even made mistakes. 

All of that is normal, and fine. No one expects you to slot in straight away on day one, and get everything right. What matters is how you progress, and having a positive, determined attitude. 

It won’t take long for you to feel comfortable and competent in your new job, and to feel at home in your office and with your new colleagues. And if you discover the job isn’t for you after all? At least you’ve had some career experience you can take onto your next role.