Creating the Right Impression

You only have one chance to make a good first impression and there are few more critical times in your career than your first day at a new organisation. In this Inspirations we discuss four tips to help you to create the right impression on your first day that will set the tone for your first three months in the role.

Don’t I Just Turn Up On The Day?

For most people, that is their strategy. They turn up on the day, suitably attired and full of enthusiasm and expectation and don’t realise that they are being assessed by their peers and superiors. They wrongly believe that the assessment of them as a person was completed at the interview stage. Sure, they had impressed – because why else would they have the job – but time has passed and employers know that recruitment practices are full of errors. The employer is hoping that the new team member will make them look good by impressing early.

Be Prepared

You’ve accepted the role, handed in your resignation, so now is the time for a celebration and that holiday, right? Well, actually, not quite. There will be time for that holiday and you will celebrate, but you need to allocate some time to preparing for that first day so that you can make the right impression. Some things to consider are:


  • Research the company and the industry;
  • Who’s who? It’s a useful exercise to call your supervisor a week before you are due to start your new role, especially if there has been several months between the job acceptance and your commencement date. This call serves several purposes, you:
    • Refresh your relationship with your supervisor;
    • Can confirm that your supervisor is still in the role. Don’t laugh. It happens. There have been incidences where the business unit, including the new recruit, is retrenched the day BEFORE the new recruit starts; and
    • May request your induction package, including an organisation chart. While most organisations will wait until your first day to give these to you I recommend that you ask for your induction package before you commence so that you may be productive from your first day. Most importantly, the induction package should contain an organisation chart, from which you may become familiar with names; and
  • Brush up on your skills. If it has been a while since you have used the skills that will be essential for the role, it might be beneficial if you refreshed yourself on them.

Dress For Success

It’s surprising how much of the first impression is determined by the clothes that you wear. Your clothing also sets the tone for how people will interact with you. For example, as a mentor to individuals and businesses I could wear smart casual when I meet with clients, however, I always wear a suit, even on “casual Friday”. I find that people take me more seriously when I wear a suit than when I wear smart casual because a suit portrays the wearer as someone who is serious about what they do.

My default recommendation to clients is a dark suit, or the appropriate uniform. In situations where a suit isn’t appropriate, I recommend smart casual with an emphasis on the smart, rather than the casual.

Why Are We Here?

It’s useful to know how the role became vacant and, if possible, to meet your predecessor.

Ask The Right Questions

On your first day you can expect to be given a tour of the office and you will be introduced to a lot of people. You can be guaranteed that you will be asked about your previous experience and what you’ll be doing in your new role, so you’d better have your 30 second ad ( ready to deliver. But also in these brief exchanges, you too will be expected to contribute to the conversation. What are you going to say? Be prepared. Think about the questions you are going to ask, before your first day. Although each situation is unique there are several pieces of useful information you can learn from smart questioning:


  • Know the nodes. In every department there is a person who will be the “go to” point for information and if they don’t know the answer they will know the person who can give it to you. Borrowing from my engineering days, I think of these people as (information) nodes; a connection point for information. Find out who these people are and get to know them;
  • Know IT. Most of your issues in the first couple of days will be IT related. Get to know these people, because you’ll need them; and
  • Get to know your stakeholders and their expectations for your interaction with them and how they use what you provide them.


The first day in a new role is very exciting. It also is your opportunity to create a strong first impression that will set the tone for how your new colleagues will interact with you for the first three months. Whilst turning up on the day full of enthusiasm is a good start, there’s more that you can do to create a strong first impression, such as; being prepared, dressing for success, understand how the role came about, and asking the right questions. If you follow these tips your first day will position you well for your “honeymoon” period. If you want to learn more about advancing your career, contact Inspirational Leaders (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).