Your First Week At Work: A Survival Guide

By Pavithra Gopalakrishnan & Yoong Chia Chuen (BAC Apprentices) 


The feeling of securing your dream job can be both amazing and overwhelming at the same time. Nevertheless, give yourself a pat on the back. Not only have you created the perfect Resume, but you too, have managed to utilise the many avenues available to its fullest potential and scored an interview. Now that you have managed to impress your employer, finally, the Letter of Appointment is in your hands. CONGRATULATIONS! You’ve landed a new job. 

Although you’ve left the comfort of being within familiar domains and opted for an adventure into the unknown, you’re confronted by the pressures of having to learn new work processes, network with new people, and possibly understand new industries in a very short span. It’s a lot to take in, we know, but hang in there. There’s still light at the end of the tunnel. 

We bring six tried and true strategies for surviving the biggest challenge of your life, the first week at a new job. This game plan will help you bring order to the chaos at the new job and will allow you to give your best, perhaps even help you impress your colleagues. 



1.Be Punctual 

Better three hours too soon than a minute too late – William Shakespeare 

On the first morning of your new job, do make sure you show up on time. The transition from being a ‘jobseeker’ into ‘job goer’ is not an easy one, especially for newbies. Set up the loudest alarm possible to jolt you awake on your first week at a new job. Reason in possible traffic congestion on your way to the workplace, and leave for work early. Being punctual or early consistently shows that you are organised, you value your work, and you are considerate of other’s time.  

Indeed, it is not an easy task getting into a suitable routine when it comes to a new job. However, it is vital to establish your routine in the first week. You establish your reputation as a dependable and consistent worker by being punctual for your job. 

Not only do you have to be punctual in showing up for the job but, be punctual walking into a meeting, finishing up a task and so on. Once you get this right, the rhythm continues for the rest of your tenure. 

Punctuality is synonymous with professionalism. Thus, establish your professionalism on the first week itself and you will reach heights of success in your career. 


2.Dress to Impress 

In many ways, your first day at work would be very much similar to the first day of school. People are judging you the moment you enter the workplace, and it only takes a few seconds to make an impression. To get started on the right foot, you need to look confident and comfortable, and your clothes play a key role, sending an instant message about who you are. 

When you have attended the interview, you would have seen the dress code followed by your present colleagues. As such, it will be wise to match their dress code unless otherwise instructed by the employer. If you’re unsure – opt for the outfit you wore to your interview as you already know it’s a proven success. 

Your clothes act as a mirror to your personality. Casual clothes may help you feel relaxed and calm, while formal clothes could help you feel more confident and intelligent. However, at the end of the day, you’re never fully dressed without a smile.  


3.Start Building Relationships 

It can be easy to embrace your inner introvert in the first few weeks of work, but it’s important to put yourself out there and network from a safe distance of course. Start by introducing yourself instead of relying on your co-workers to do it for you and ask people what their roles entail.  

Be persistent even if it makes you nervous. Establish a common ground with everyone you meet. Some people may not be warm and welcoming, but it is vital not to be discouraged by such characters. There will always be one in ten people you meet who needs more time, especially when it comes to connecting with newbies. Respect their boundaries and give them time. 

The Wall Street Journal emphasizes knowing your orbit: your boss and co-workers. If all goes well, you’ll be spending the next few years with them. Thus, building cordial relationship on the first week at your new job is very important.  


4.Get Organized 

Your first week can be a little tough as you are still adapting to a new working environment and the tasks in hand. You would have a little down time during your first week on the job. It would be good to use some of that time to start getting organised immediately.   

This is crucial as being organised makes it easier to focus on tasks so that you can be more efficient in the workplace. You could make a to-do-list of important tasks. Through this list, you could easily review your daily priorities at the beginning of each day. Next, you could focus on what’s important by reminding yourself of your long-term goals and revise them when necessary. It is advisable to set priorities to meet your goals.  

Further, manage your time well by using a schedule. When a task needs extra concentration, schedule a quiet time to accomplish that task. Take this as a piece of advice. Do your most challenging work when your energy is at its highest and save less demanding work for other times  


5.Digest Information and Take Notes  

Your first week on the job is a time to listen and digest information. Take notes, as this will help set you up for success. It will also help you reduce all the pressure from memorising in a short period of time. It will help you prioritise what you are learning and serve as a reinforcement.  

You could always refer to the notes if you are uncertain, as they can remind you of your responsibilities, job guidelines and to do’s. Further, you can check your notes to see if the answer is there before asking someone. Asking the same question a few times will annoy your colleague, and this you would not want to do. 


6.Establish Expectations with your Boss 

It is crucial to establish expectations with your boss when you start a new job. You need to make sure that you’re on the same page in terms of what is expected of you, and how it will be measured. Your new boss will have more impact than anyone else over whether you succeed or fail. 

If you can understand what your boss expects from you, you’ll drastically increase your chances of forming a stronger relationship with them. In the first week of the job, if there is a meeting with your boss, ask in a polite manner ‘what do you expect from me?’. This will help you build a close relationship with your boss and how you can meet expectations. Keep this in mind, your boss will be willing to forgive mistakes caused by inexperience, but errors caused by lack of effort are inexcusable. 


Now that you have a glimpse of what to expect at a new workplace, ready to put this game plan into action?