Recent Graduates: What to Expect From Your First Office Role

Your first job in a professional setting can be both exciting and daunting, so here's our tips for making your first steps into and office role.

Walking in to your first professional role can feel like a huge step into the unknown. What should you wear? What should you take? Who will you speak to? How should you behave? Hopefully, we can help by answering some of these questions, and make you feel a little more at ease in your first office job.

First day office etiquette 

Often, people will find their first day is the most daunting as you want to make a good impression while also getting your questions answered. So, what can you expect from your first day? And what will your employer be wanting from you? 

  • Arrive early – If your start time is 9am, arrive at least 10 minutes early. This will show your employer you are keen and give you time to get the lay of the land before your workday starts. You can use this time to work out where to put your coat, where to store your lunch and find the facilities. 
  • Dress appropriately – Stay away from trainers, tracksuits, jeans, logo’d jumpers and hoodies. We will generally advise people to dress for their first day as if you’re going to a friend’s birthday party; dress to impress but not necessarily suited to the nines. It’s always worth asking your employer about dress code during the interview process just in case they do wear suits as standard, you don’t want to arrive underdressed and feel embarrassed.
  • Be enthusiastic – Make sure you listen attentively, take notes and stay engaged. It’s really important you give your employer the impression you want to learn and understand how they work as opposed to an apathetic, bored demeanour.
  • Ask questions when appropriate – It’s important you ask questions to learn the organisational culture, make sure you’re getting to grips with the system and make sure you’ll be doing things right. However, try and make sure the questions are intentional and appropriate, and you’re not asking about things that aren’t necessary. Otherwise, you can unintentionally create a bad first impression by draining people’s time.
  • Keep your phone in your bag – You’re probably very technologically focussed, which will be hugely helpful when learning company systems, but don’t fall into the trap of using your phone outside of your breaks. It’s not only inappropriate but could get you in to real trouble with your new boss.
starting a new job checklist

First office job essentials

Have everything you need with you. On your first day you’ll need to bring with you your right to work (this could be a UK passport or a birth certificate alongside proof of national insurance or a British visa), P45 (if you have it from a previous role) a notepad and a pen. There is usually a lot of signing and reading to do too, so be prepared. 

It’s also worth bringing food and a water bottle with you if your new office isn’t in a city centre, as there may not be shops accessible.

How to succeed in an office job

 So, you made it! You survived your first day and thrived, but there are still some hurdles you’ll need to overcome while you settle. From here you may come across more sensitive issues such as avoiding office politics, how to self-review, how to be heard, how to communicate at all levels and how to progress and develop.  

Below are some tips on how to navigate your first couple of weeks. 

  • Avoid office politics – Often when you walk into an environment and start to make friends, you’ll hear about other members of staff’s differences and factions. It’s important you don’t get drawn into gossip and remain polite, conscientious, and respectful to everyone you work with. Don’t get lured into anything petty or be seen to be saying anything negative. Stay sincere and professional and you’ll be fine. 
  • Prepare to self-review for appraisals – This can be really challenging and take quite a large amount of self-awareness. You’ll need to draw on all your introspection to be very honest about where you are succeeding but also where you need more support and guidance. Be very candid both with yourself and your manager and ask for their advice on any improvements that need to be made. This will make the aware you’re engaged and listening, but also that you want to learn and grown. 
  • Make yourself heard amongst colleagues – It can often feel daunting to speak out in forums and meetings when you’re new and it feels like everyone else is more senior. However, you have been employed because the organisation like you, and want to hear your views. Make sure you speak up in meetings and when opinions are asked for, but do so in an informed and purposeful way. Before you go in, think of points you’d like to discuss or do some research if the meeting is on a specific topic (e.g. budgets or improvements). Make sure you ask questions to understand the views of others and don’t be shy to add suggestions to the views of others. 
first office job

Working an office job 

  • Learn to communicate at all levels – Often companies have open plan offices, and you’ll have a lot of face time not only with your team and your manager, but also company directors and even sometimes owners. It can feel a little intimidating at first to communicate with those at a senior level, but as long as you’re arriving on time every day, meeting deadlines and dressing appropriately they will have a good impression, so there is no need to feel worried about their interactions with you. Take time to understand and replicate their communication style, be respectful of their views, share with them your goals and ambitions and promote your successes. 
  • Set yourself up to progress and develop – It’s likely you will want to climb the ladder at some point, in which case you’ll need to start putting in the work from the early days. From week one you can start to demonstrate your hard-working attitude and desire to learn and grow. but making yourself seen by management. Asking for more responsibility (once you’re comfortable with your basic role) and directly asking for targets to meet, which can help show you what needs to be done to allow you to move forward. 

 

Hopefully this gives you a good indication not only what to expect from your first professional role, but also what they will expect from you, and how you can get ahead. More than anything it’s important to be yourself and behave authentically, as this will allow you to make friends and enjoy your time in your new role.

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