How to Get Ready to Start a New Job

Be well-prepared for your first day

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Congratulations! You have a new job. Of course, you want to prepare for a great start with your new employer. After you've accepted a job offer, there are a lot of practical steps you should take before your first day to ensure a smooth transition.

Ideally, you'll have a break in between jobs to focus on these tasks. If you don't have much time to prepare, however, try to have most of these done before your first day or at least within the first week.

Make Household Arrangements

Depending on the age of your children and your new work hours, you may need to arrange for childcare. Whether you're looking at daycare, after-school programs, or a sitter, it will be much easier to line this up before you're already working. Ideally, a sitter can even meet with you and your kids once or twice before you start work to make sure they are a good fit.

What else will need to be taken care of around the house? If you have pets or plants that need attention while you're away, be sure to hire someone to do these tasks before you begin work.

Schedule Appointments

If you can help it, you'll want to avoid asking for time off from work to go to doctors’ appointments in the first couple weeks of a new job. Try to schedule any upcoming doctors’ appointments for before your new job begins. If you already have an appointment scheduled that falls within the first couple of weeks of work, you might want to call and see if they can reschedule.

If your insurance provider will change with your new job, make sure your current doctors will take your new insurance. Otherwise, you will have to start looking for new doctors or see if you have out-of-network coverage on your new plan.

Also, think of any appointments you want to make to ensure you look and feel your best on your first day. It might be a good time for a fresh haircut or a manicure or pedicure (no bright colors or crazy patterns) if you like painting your nails—anything that will make you feel confident on day one.

Test Your Commute

Make sure you know exactly how to get to your new office, and how long it will take. If you will take public transportation, confirm all stops and transfers you will need to take.

Practice going to work a few times before your job starts so you will know how long the commute is. Be sure to go around the time you plan to leave for work, so you can account for any traffic. You might want to come up with a backup route for days that traffic is particularly bad. When that first day arrives, you don't want to be late. Leave 10 minutes earlier than you think you need to—just in case.

Get Plenty of Sleep

If you’ve had an irregular sleep schedule during your job search, now is the time to get back into a normal pattern. Start going to bed and waking up at the times you plan to for work. Ideally, you should begin this shift two weeks before you begin your job. Even if you can't adjust that far in advance, though, start as soon as possible. Getting your body into a new rhythm will help you feel much more rested on that first day of work. The last thing you want to worry about is whether you'll sleep through your alarm.

Plan Your Outfit

Choose your outfit for the first day of work a week in advance. This will give you time to wash, iron, dry clean, or hem any clothing items. If you are unsure of how you should dress on the first day, call your company’s human resources representative for advice.

If you can't get a clear answer, it's best to dress conservatively for the first couple of weeks. Once you get a feel for the office culture, you can begin to dress more casually, if that is what your office-mates do.

Get Your Materials Together

Make sure you have all the materials prepared for day one. Bring all the information and documents you'll need to complete new hire paperwork if you haven't done so already. You probably don't know what your employer will provide for note-taking, so get a notepad and pen for recording any pertinent introductory information. You can take notes on a smartphone or laptop instead—just be sure your boss doesn't think you're texting.

If you are unsure about whether people tend to buy or bring lunch, pack one for the first day, just to be safe. Review anything else that your boss or human resources representative told you to bring, and be sure you have everything. Also, make sure you have a professional-looking bag or briefcase for your things.

Working From Home

If you are working from home, your list might be a little shorter. But make sure you have all the tools you will need in your home office. These might include a computer, printer, scanner, telephone, pens, paper, and more. You might need a new desk and chair. Clean and arrange your office space before your first day so you can start work with an organized workspace that allows you to focus on learning your new job.

Research the Company

With all the little practical tasks you have to do before your first day, it’s easy to forget about the job itself. Before the first day, spend a little time refreshing yourself on the organization and its mission. This might be as simple as skimming over the company’s website one more time or reviewing materials you've already received.

If you have a friend who knows someone at the company, consider asking your friend to set up a coffee meeting for you and your future co-worker. It doesn't hurt to know at least one friendly face at work on your first day.

Make the Best Impression

Your first few weeks on a new job are an extension of your interview. Be prepared to make the best impression right out of the gate. Once you're at work, follow these tips and strategies for successfully starting a new job to keep your momentum going.