Add Value On Your First Day

Job changes are stressful. On a list of major stressers in life, such as moving, the death (or birth) of a family member, marriage, and divorce, you’ll also see a job change on the list. Many people get a large portion of their identity and sense of value from the work they do every day. For many others, the majority of their social interactions are with coworkers. Your schedule and all the other bits of your life that have to BE scheduled are tied directly to your work hours as well. When you change jobs, whether through your own choice or someone else’s, all of that stuff gets seriously disrupted. Consequently, when many people change jobs, there is a bit of a stress response. As a result, most people let their first day of a new job *happen to them* rather than trying to direct it to their best advantage.

While this is generally understood and expected, it’s not an optimal approach. Instead, you really need to take charge of your first day, to the degree possible. You want to quickly reestablish yourself in your new position and hopefully become productive in short order. You probably won’t be productive on the first day. It can be tempting to try and actually write code on the first day (and sometimes it’s even possible), but there are probably better things to do with your time. You are unlikely to write any earth-shattering code your first day, so you are probably better off engaging in some “less productive” activities that help you get integrated into the team and which will help over the longer term.

Your first day in a new job is a chance to either do well, or to make a horrible impression and fail. It also comes with a flurry of meetings, new information, and new people to interact with. It’s a lot to deal with and you can easily make mistakes if you aren’t careful in your approach. On your first day of a new job (and the days following), you should try to make sure that you are set up for success. Most new jobs don’t expect you to be up to speed and working on the first day, but you want to be productive as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, that tends to mean that you start out by doing a lot of things that don’t initially SEEM productive. However, if you follow our recommendations from this episode, you’ll be in a much better position to quickly provide value in your new position.

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