Starting a new job

Starting a new job can be overwhelming. There are a few things you can do before you start and during your first month of employment which will help you settle into your new job and make a good first impression.

Before you start

Review your employment contract

Read over your employment contract to ensure you understand the details of your offer. The National Employment Standards can help check that this is in line with Australian employment legislation.

Check your start time

Find out where to go and what time you should start on your first day. Look up how to get to your new workplace and plan your trip. Would public transport be a better option than driving? Consider doing a trial run to see how long the journey will take.

Check the dress code in advance

You may want to dress more formally in your first week until you get a chance to observe what the standard attire is in your new workplace. Even if casual attire is worn at your organisation, your personal grooming should always be neat and professional. Prepare your outfit in advance so there are no last minute delays.

Research the organisation

Research or refresh your knowledge on key information about the organisation, such as the values, mission statement and structure.

On your first day

Allow extra time

Allow plenty of extra time on the day in case of unexpected delays. Aim to arrive at your workplace on time or no more than 10 minutes early. You don’t want to keep your manager waiting, or arrive before they have had a chance to prepare for you!

Ask questions and take notes

Take a notebook to jot down important points and any key contacts. Be curious and ask lots of questions – no one expects you to know everything right away!

Ask your manager what they are expecting from you in your first few weeks on the job.

Be open to new ideas

Your new organisation will have its own culture, policies and ways of doing things. Be open to learning how and why things are done and resist the urge to suggest better ways of doing things right away just to make your mark. While there may be an opportunity to make improvements in the future, your first few days are not the right time for this. Listen rather than making suggestions.

Next weeks and months

  • Build relationships

    Getting to know your colleagues on a personal level can help you to settle in to your role and the culture of an organisation quickly. Accept invitations for coffee or lunch from your colleagues and your manager. Be polite and enthusiastic with everyone you meet. Remember who's who by greeting people by their first name each time you see them.

  • Establish yourself

    Establish yourself as a reliable, high performer by completing any work you are given on time to a high standard. Ask questions up front such as: “When would you like this done by?”, “What outcomes are you expecting?” or “Who should I go to with any questions?” Knowing what is expected of you will help you get started on the right track. If you don't know how you are performing in your new role, ask for feedback.

  • Keep learning

    Attend any orientation programs and new starter events. Many organisations will have formal induction activities or training you will need to complete. You may also be required to set formal performance objectives with your manager that detail what is expected of you in your first few months. Take the lead from your manager about where you should spend your time and energy.

  • Learn from high performers

    Keep an eye out for team members who are successful in their roles, closely watch what they do and observe their behaviours. Are these things that you could learn? See if you can spend some time shadowing high performing staff to observe their style or find a mentor.

  • Update your social media

    Update your employment information on LinkedIn and start following your new company. Add contacts to LinkedIn as you begin to build relationships and meet new people.

When things don't go to plan

  • Imposter syndrome

    After the initial excitement of being offered the job of your dreams, it can be quite common for some doubts to creep in: What if I can’t do the job? or Why did they pick me? Talk to your manager about areas you would like to develop to address any knowledge or skills gaps. There will always be new things to learn in any job, no matter how experienced you are.

  • Dealing with ups and downs

    It's normal to experience some highs and lows when starting a new job. The first few weeks can be exciting as you begin to learn new things and meet new people, but once reality sets in and you encounter your first challenge or setback you may start to have second thoughts about the role. When this happens don’t confuse feeling out of your comfort zone with being incapable. Allow yourself some time to settle in and develop confidence in your role.