How to make a good first impression at work

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So you’ve graduated from university, gone through the process of applying for graduate positions, and are now ready to start your new career.

There’s a lot to think about before your first day at a new job; not least the impact of your first impression you give your new colleagues.

Your first few days in a new graduate job can shape people’s opinions of you and your work ethic; making your first impression really impactful.

Here’s how you can use your first impression to develop great relationships with the right people, and help, not hinder, your career.

How to make a good first impression on your first day at work

Be Punctual ⏰

If you’re looking to make a good first impression at work, the worst thing you can do on your first day in a new job is be late.

Make sure you have planned your commute beforehand, and remember to factor in the fact that it will be rush hour.

Try to arrive 5-10 minutes earlier than requested by the Hiring Manager.

But remember, you don’t want to be too early either!

If you are more than 10 minutes early, walk around the area and get to grips with your new surroundings before heading into work – usually, employers will still be setting up for your arrival until this time.

Read our top 10 tips for your first day at work here.


Introduce Yourself To Everyone

On your first day, you’ll probably be shown around the office and introduced to the team.

For every person you meet, smile, shake their hand and introduce yourself.

Try to remember everyone’s names you can, especially those in your immediate team.

If you’re not shown around the office, be proactive; and spend lunchtime introducing yourself to everyone you meet.

Being open, friendly and professional from your very first day can leave employers and teammates with a positive first impression.

You may be asked to write an introductory email to be sent to the whole company; saying a little bit about yourself and your background.

Spend a few minutes drafting this email; making sure that this says exactly what you want your new colleagues to know about you!


Dress The Part

The clothes you wear on your first day at work can have a big impact on the way others perceive you inside and outside of the workplace.

Remember to dress professionally and appropriately, by selecting the right outfit that matches the work culture of the organisation.

When you wear something less than appropriate, distracting, or distasteful, it can lead others to believe that you do not value their time, or that you do not respect the organisation.

During the interview stages, you might have picked up on the dress code; if not, drop the Hiring Manager an email before your first day – they’ll be happy to help.

Make sure you feel confident and comfortable in your first day outfit; and don’t let any insecurities in your appearance get in the way of your first impression.

Making strides toward self-acceptance will allow you to walk into your first day with confidence, so you can establish a strong foundation for the professional relationships that can help your in your career.


Pay Attention To Your Body Language

It’s important to consider the way you’re communicating with your new colleagues; not just by what you’re saying, but by your non-verbal gestures and movements as well.

If you are frowning, your arms are crossed, or your eyes are looking down, you could be sending the wrong message; one that tells your colleagues you’re disinterested.

Pay attention to the gestures you’re making and the way your body is positioned when you’re speaking with others.

Relax your facial expressions and smile to express your interest.

Non-verbal feedback is important for communication, so let others know you’re listening through frequent nods, and periodic comments or questions.

All of these small efforts will make for better first impressions, more productive conversations, and ultimately stronger relationships with your new colleagues.


Make Connections With Your Colleagues

Once you’ve introduced yourself to your teammates, it’s helpful to find some common interests with the people you meet, so that you can leave a lasting good impression.

To find some common ground, don’t get down to business right away – try to get to know someone first.

Ask ice-breaker questions about their background, their experiences, and maybe even some of their hobbies.

You might find that you have a lot of the same interests!

When speaking with your new colleagues, make sure you are always positive, interested and attentive.

Asking as many questions as possible, and really taking an interest in their lives, can help you make a great first impression at work within your first few weeks!


First impressions are the starting point for your professional development, helping to foster better relationships with skilled professionals that you can learn from.

Learning from experienced professionals can help you get noticed, get promoted, and further your career.


For more graduate guidance on navigating the graduate jobs market, head over to our career advice blog or visit our graduate jobs site.

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