Your first day at a new job: the No Nerves Checklist

by Dec 13, 2021

The first day of a new job can elicit a whole range of feelings. You might be nervous about meeting new people and getting your head around a different way of working. You might be excited about taking the first step in a career change. You might be feeling all this and more (and the impulse to get your mum to call in sick for you!)

Starting a new job is definitely a nerve-wracking experience, but beyond just pushing those nerves down and showing up for your first day, is there anything you can do to prepare?

Lucky for you, that’s a definite YES. And what’s more, we’ve even got a handy checklist with little check-boxes so you can feel super accomplished ticking them off the night before your big day. Read on for 10 things you can do to prepare for your first day at a new job. No nerves guaranteed*     


⬜ Set, and double-check your alarm

It might sound like a no-brainer, but if you’re heading to a new job without knowing the ins and outs of the commute as well as dealing with nerves, it’s easier to muck up timing than you’d think.

If you’re as neurotic as me, you might like to do a dry run to your new place of work before the day itself. Alternatively, planning to arrive 15-30 minutes early can often get you through any unexpected mishaps, and prove you as an expert in punctuality.

Don’t forget to double-check that you’ve got the right start-time in mind. And remember to select AM instead of PM!


⬜ Figure out your fashion

Start off on the right foot (or shoe!) by laying out your outfit the night before. This will ensure you’re not rushing around trying to choose what to wear in the morning, and that your clothes make a good first impression.

This doesn’t mean you have to wear a three piece suit! If you know your new place of work is a little more casual, feel free to come in wearing something that fits the bill. Many of us take a week or two to get used to the dress code, so don’t sweat this one too much. Just make sure you feel comfortable in what you’re wearing, and know it fits in with company culture.


⬜ Meal prep

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Take your chance to think about, or even make, your first meal of the day ahead of time. Like preparing your outfit, having breakfast sorted will mean you aren’t stressed for time in the morning.

Likewise, having a general idea of what you’re going to have for lunch or bring as a snack to your first day of week will mean for smoother sailing. Going out for lunch with colleagues on your first day is a great way to get to know the people you’ll be working with, so if someone offers, say yes! You could even be the one to ask if you aren’t offered an invitation, and trust us, that makes you look pretty great.

That being said, it’s good to have an alternative ready in case no one’s free to take up the offer. Bring a couple of bucks or an easy meal just in case.


⬜ Get the admin sorted

If you’re lucky, your manager or someone from HR will have briefed you ahead of time about what documents to bring in for the induction process. These will usually include some sort of photo ID (like a passport or driver’s licence), tax file number, superannuation fund information, and anything else you need to verify your employment.


⬜ Pack the essentials

Pack your bag the night before you start your new job to ensure you don’t forget anything you might need. This will change depending on the nature of your role, but you could bring things like a notebook and pen to take down any important notes, a refillable water bottle, something warm for pesky office AC, a book or headphones to assuage the nerves on the commute over, and a snack.


⬜ Prepare an elevator pitch

The first day at a new job can make you feel like the New Kid at school! There’s lots of people to meet who likely all know each other pretty well. So, it’s a good idea to come up with an elevator pitch to use when you inevitably get asked about yourself.

It can also be handy to think of some topics for the huge amount of small talk you’ll bound to encounter! If you’re a little more introverted and tend to forget everything that’s ever happened to you after being asked, why not prepare? Think about things like what you’re watching or reading, weekend or holiday plans, study and work experience, etc. That way, you won’t be nervous you’ll have nothing to talk about


⬜ Set some goals

Sure, starting a new job can be scary, but it’s also really exciting! This is the first step in a new time of your life, one with endless possibilities. Take a moment before you start to sit down and think of some achievable goals for the next few months of your new role. It’s an amazing thing to be able to turn to down the line and reflect on your achievements.


⬜ Prepare questions (and be ready to actually ask them)

There’s nothing wrong with asking lots of questions on your first day. It’s a steep learning curve, and you’re not expected to know everything straight away. Asking questions will not only make you look eager to learn, but proactive to boot.

The only problem, then, is actually asking them! In the week before you start, think up a few questions about your new employer or department, then come to work ready to get chatting. You could start with questions about your role and projects, and there are plenty of other examples here.


⬜ Get a good sleep

This one is one of the most important! Ensuring you have a good sleep before your first day will set you up well (and help you avoid any eye bags). Sleep is also extremely important for managing nerves and anxiety, so getting a good rest will do your future self a huge favour.


⬜ Relax!

Remember, your first day might be a bit nerve-wracking, but everyone in your organisation has gone through the same thing – you’re not alone.

So, take a few deep breaths and remember that your new employer hired you for a reason. You’ve got this!


*Ok, maybe you’ll still be nervous but at least you’ll feel a little more prepared! After all, nerves and excitement are the same feeling with different names. Let those butterflies in your stomach take a little rest, and tick off these points one by one the day before your next new job starts!


Featured image courtesy of Pexels

Lily Cameron

Lily Cameron

Communications Assistant

Lily Cameron is a writer and editor based in Sydney. She is a UTS Communications (Creative Writing) graduate, and current Communications Assistant at UTS Careers. She is passionate about telling stories, both hers and others’, and the way digital and social media is changing the literary landscape. Her writing has appeared in Voiceworks, The Brag, and elsewhere.