‘Sue’ recently landed her dream insurance job. Unlike other successful recruitment experiences, this time everything had been handled remotely through video and phone calls. So she felt she hadn’t broken the ice as completely as when previously meeting potential new bosses and colleagues in person. Now as her first day looms, she realises she is quite nervous about meeting her new colleagues for the first time. She reached out to us for advice on how she could make the best start.
It’s a pretty common scenario now we are emerging from multiple lockdowns. Like a large number of professions, many insurance and financial services firms switched to remote working processes, including recruitment and onboarding. As a result, lots of candidates are reporting greater levels of trepidation ahead of their first days.
Our business is not just helping you find your dream job – we want you to thrive in your career. So here are our top 12 tips on how you will make the best possible first impression on your boss and your team … from day one.
It’s our favourite “p” word again! Preparing properly produces perfect performance on your first day just as it does in every other phase of finding and landing a new job.
In an ideal world, we recommend allowing a short period of time between jobs so you can attune yourself mentally and physically for the new challenges ahead. This is not always possible, in which case try and alot yourself a window each day in the week before you start your new role to get some ducks in a row.
Check all correspondence and any orientation or onboarding materials from your new company to ensure you will be bringing in everything they need from you. If need be, create a folder to make sure it is all in one place. Usually this will include ID (passport or driving licence perhaps), your P45 from your previous employer, national insurance number and possibly some completed paperwork.
How you presented yourself in the interview obviously worked so make sure you are equally presentable on your first day. Your clothing choices do matter: you don’t want to look out of place and potentially cause embarrassment to yourself or your new colleagues by being dressed inappropriately. Clarify well in advance what the dress code is and if you aren’t sure then err on the side of caution and dress conservatively.
Be on time
Practice the commute a couple of times during rush hour to identify potential delay points. Build in a generous stoppages window and aim to arrive at least a quarter of an hour early. Then actually walk in bang on time.
Start as you mean to continue by demonstrating your curiosity and desire to learn – excellent qualities in a new recruit!
Find out from your new peers how the department operates. This is a good time to grasp the big picture: ask about company, department and team goals, as well as any key projects.
Talk to as many new colleagues as possible and have a few good questions already up your sleeve. (Not sure what to ask? Call us and we can help you put together some brilliant ones to get you started.) Help build up trust from the outset by being friendly and approachable.
Having said that, you have two ears and one mouth and you should definitely be using them in that ratio! Also, take lots of notes – there is no way you will remember everything you learn so having a record will be invaluable. (Make sure your ‘First day file’ includes a notebook and pencils!)
Finally, if you have some basic questions, it is always useful having a contact in HR you can go to for these.
Mind the gap
You’ll have seen your core responsibilities – it will have been a key feature of the recruitment process. On your first day, you will have an opportunity to run through them again and get your employer to put them in context. This is also your best opportunity to also gauge the gap between what should be done and what actually happens: specifically, what are the duties that are also implicitly expected of you? Getting the complete picture will be essential to helping you manage your time and prioritise.
Be available to your boss
On day one, you are going to be stretched in many different directions but make sure that you are prioritising the person you are ultimately going to be reporting to: your boss. This might be the most important impression you are going to make so ensure that this is not jeopardised by administrative aspects of your onboarding. If it hasn’t been included in your first day orientation, do everything you can to make a meeting – even a brief one – happen.
Don’t be shy
Greet everyone you meet and introduce yourself. How you click with co-workers might affect your long term success so be as warm and help them get as comfortable with you as quickly as possible. Make it clear how happy and eager you are to be there, exuding positive energy and team spirit!
Not quite sure how? Here are a few pointers:
- Smile: be happy and enjoy the moment!
- Introduce yourself to everyone
- Make eye contact
- Use open gestures
- Try and befriend at least one colleague
- Avoid fidgeting
Pay great attention to your body language: it makes up the lion’s share of your communication. In advance of your first day, try to assess what you’re communicating – it will help you better understand how others may perceive you … and what adjustments to make!
Breaking bread with colleagues is an excellent way to also break the ice. If you are invited to lunch, go: demonstrate your keenness to mingle with your new team.
A new manager joining a huge team, spread out over two floors of open plan offices needed to get to know the various team members – and fast. Remembering that the vast majority of the UK adult population love sweets, on her first day she took in a goldfish bowl and packed it full of chocolate. By the end of day three, everyone knew her and, more importantly, she knew them.
Finally, let your new colleague(s) know that you’re keen to lend a helping hand – currying a little goodwill now will hopefully go a long way later if/when you need support.
The elevator pitch
The overwhelming majority of new teammates and colleagues you meet in your first day and week will want to know who you are, what you’ll be doing and where you were before. As part of your preparation, draft and recite and practise a 30 second explainer covering this.
Watch and listen
If you are going to move up the ranks, you won’t just need to get along with colleagues but you’ll need to associate with the right ones. From day one, figure out how the social landscape lies. Which colleagues have a better rapport with management, which cliques have the respect and the ear of the decision makers?
Again, your ear/eye ratio is your best asset: listen more and talk less!
Office politics is interesting, a quite important but often elusive aspect of the work environment. The sooner you ascertain who actually answers to who (as opposed to the official hierarchy), the better for your career.
The night before your first day, get a good night’s sleep. This is not the day for drunken revelry, or a late-night cinematic marathon. You’ll be absorbing lots of information so you want to be at your freshest and most receptive.
Have a few breathing exercises (or other mindfulness aids) prepared in case at any point you feel overwhelmed. If the thought of meeting new people unnerves you, have some visual imagery ready to help disarm the moment when you meet them.
Don’t try and be someone else. Relax: you’ve been hired because of YOU. And don’t feel the need to try too hard! Spend your energy instead on understanding the ropes, and being friendly and engaged. You need to keep some of that energy in the tank to be the same person on day 31 that you were on day one!
So be yourself: you are going to impress them anyway.
Put your mobile phone on silent
Do we really need to explain why?!
Tomorrow will be a good day
If day one doesn’t go precisely as you had hoped, it’s fine. You have probably done a lot better than you are giving yourself credit for. Besides, you have just taken the first small step – there are many, many more to follow.
There’s always day two. And it WILL be a good day.
For more tips on everything you need to boost your career in insurance or financial services, visit our blog library.
If you are currently looking for opportunities, discover the latest unmissable vacancies on our candidate dashboard.
Alternatively, call our friendly and experienced team for a chat on 01483 668700 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.