The Best Way to Prep for a New Job (Free Checklist Included)

Starting a new job is exhilarating. And the opportunities are endless—a new chance to make an awesome first impression, new responsibilities to help you grow, new professional connections who could turn into friends, even a new (and clean) desk.

But before you head to bed thinking all the fantasies, there are a few things you should do the night before your first day—that is, if you want to seriously impress and earn the respect of your new boss.

And, because we’re feeling super generous, we made you this handy checklist so you don’t forget anything important. Just click File > Download as > whatever file you’d like to get started.

1. Lay Out Your Outfit

You want to make a killer first impression (OK, maybe it’s not the first, but it’s still pretty important), so make sure your best outfit is ready to go so you’re not scrambling in the morning.

But remember, this isn’t an interview—you already have the job. So, if you know the office is more casual, don’t be afraid to tone it down a bit. You’ll feel a lot more comfortable knowing you’ll be dressed like everyone else, rather than the one person wearing a full suit.

2. Set Your Alarm and Plan Your Commute

Double check your arrival time, then set your alarm and plan your commute so you arrive 15 minutes before then. Trust me, you won’t be frowned upon for arriving early.

3. Figure Out Your Breakfast Situation

It’s the most important meal of the day according to science! Make sure you start off on the right foot by preparing (or making) what you’re going to eat first thing when you wake up.

4. Collect All Your Documents

Hopefully, HR has sent you a rundown of what you need to bring in, which may include a passport, photo ID, or other paperwork you need for employment verification. (If they haven’t, it’s still usually a good idea to bring these things regardless.) You can also do yourself a favor by refreshing yourself on what a 401K is and how health insurance works.

5. Pack Your Bag

Then, make sure to pack all the essentials—a notebook and pen for taking notes, a sweater if the office is cold, a stain stick for spills, some money for lunch (yes, you should buy lunch your first day to get to know your co-workers!), and a snack in case lunch runs late or doesn’t happen.

6. Do One Last Bit of Stalking

Names are hard to remember—which is why it’s smart to stalk your company’s team page or your new team members’ LinkedIn profiles one last time (yes, I know you did this before for your interview) to remember who is who and what they do.

Then, collect the names of people you’d like to grab coffee with and get to know better (they don’t have to be in your department) your first few weeks.

7. Prepare Some Small Talk Topics

You’re going to be doing a lot of small talking as you meet everyone, so if you’re on the shyer side, preparing some topics of discussion (the TV show you’re currently watching, what you did over the weekend, vacation plans) beforehand will save you from suffering through awkward pauses or blurting out inappropriate comments on your first day.

8. Collect a Couple Questions or Ideas You Have

Even if you don’t know what to expect, you’re sure to impress your boss by being proactive and coming prepared with a couple questions about the company or department, or some ideas on projects you know your role entails. Here are a few to get you started.

9. Write Down One Reason You Took This Job

This great tip comes from Muse writer Erin Greenawald, who suggests writing down the biggest reason you decided to take this job.

“Then, when things get overwhelming, everything isn’t what you expected it to be, or you feel like you’ll never make it up the steep learning curve ahead of you, you can return to that reason and remind yourself why you’re doing this,” she says.

10. Get Some Sleep!

I know you’re excited to start, but you’re going to want to be well rested to keep your energy levels high and stay focused on your first day. So, get to bed at a reasonable hour, and maybe try one of these sleep hacks so you get plenty of rest.

Finally, on the big day, be yourself! You’re about to embark on a new career journey, and starting it off just as you are guarantees you’re headed in the right direction.

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About Richard Moy

Richard Moy
Richard Moy is a Content Marketing Writer at Stack Overflow. He has spent the majority of his career in talent management, including a stint as a full-cycle recruiter and hiring manager. In addition to the career advice he contributes to The Muse, he also writes test prep and higher education marketing content for The Economist. Say hi on Twitter @rich_moy.

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