Congratulations! You got the job, that’s amazing. All that interview preparation worked a treat and they loved you. Yet, as the celebratory fog starts to clear, the nerves return – your first week is fast approaching and you have no idea what to expect.
As we mentioned in our Graduates’ Guide to Securing That Job (which you can still download), the first week – crikey, the first day – will be daunting. In which case, let us alleviate that anxiety and share a little insight. Before we do so, there are a few things you should know:
- You will be bored at some point
- You can’t use your phone in work hours
- The week will pass like a blur…and then everything will fall into place.
Here’s what to expect in your first week:
A proactive employer should send you your contract of employment, along with a portfolio of other documentation, in advance of your start date. Amongst this thick wad of paper, you might expect to receive the following:
• Your contract, also known as the Terms & Conditions of Employment
• A list of any benefits, pension and the discretionary bonus scheme (if appropriate)
• Personal details forms – for your address and next of kin
• A P46 tax form
• Various policies such as absence, dress code, technology, disciplinary, grievance, etc.
The accompanying letter should tell you what to do with each of the documents, i.e. sign copies of the contract and policies, and to complete the personal details form. The P46 should be used if you haven’t got a P45 from a previous job. You might need to send the paperwork back so that the HR department can get your records set up, or you can simply bring them on your first day.
If you haven’t received these, don’t worry, they’ll be given to you when you actually set foot inside the office.
It’s arrived; your first day at your new job. You should have already been notified of your start date, where to go and who to ask for. It goes without saying that you should arrive a little bit early, so make sure that you’ve researched public transport timetables, the ease of parking or how long the walk might take before setting off.
It’s likely you’ll be met on arrival by your manager, a team member or HR, then taken to your new desk (and hopefully supplied with a cup of tea). They’ll go through some ‘housekeeping’, everything from where the toilets and fire exits are, to using the vending machine and setting up your PC – all essential stuff. They should also take you round the office and introduce you to the team.
Depending on the size of the company, you may spend the rest of the day doing an induction. This usually involves HR or your manager sharing more about the business, explaining the health and safety regulations, providing you with contacts in other departments (i.e. payroll’s email address) and generally answering any questions you may have.
Whether or not you are on a formal induction, you will be required to read more documents from the employee handbook. This is where you may start to get a little bored. Unfortunately, this is a tick-box exercise and your manager probably has to confirm that you have read and understood certain policies – especially if you weren’t sent them in advance.
Your new employer is likely to stress the absence and technology policies – the former will explain how book holiday, the sickness procedure and when statutory sick pay is applicable, while the latter will no doubt state that you can’t use the internet for personal use, that your phone should be put away and that emails are solely for business use, etc. Not all companies are this strict / prepared but either way, you should avoid abusing the company’s technology policy at all costs.
Add lunch into the mix and that will probably consume your entire day. Not the exciting start you anticipated, but the scariest part is over and now you can go home!
The rest of the week
This is when your job training will take place. With any luck, you’ll be able to shadow a colleague or sit with the person whom you are replacing. Ideally, there will be some sort of training plan in place for you which ensures the main role responsibilities are covered. When you are training, take notes. Always take notes. Not only does this demonstrate that you are a serious professional, but you’ll probably need that information when it’s time to ‘go it alone’. You’ll be shown so many things, it would be virtually impossible to remember everything, so scribble it all down and don’t be afraid to ask your trainer to repeat something if you’re not sure.
It’s also a good idea to seek out a mentor, find a ‘buddy’ or befriend someone who has been at the company for a while and can help you out with such vital knowledge as ‘where’s the best sandwich place’ and ‘who do I contact about my payslip?’.
As the week progresses – and it will progress faster than you ever imagined – you should find you feel more at ease; recognising faces, places and feeling confident enough to make a tea round. By Friday evening, when you’re all sitting in the pub – you’ll probably feel like you’ve always been there and are ready to embark on a fulfilling, rewarding career.