Common First-Day Mistakes And How To Avoid Them


The first day jitters.

You had them when you were five years old and walking to your first day of kindergarten.

You felt them even stronger when you transitioned from middle to high school, and almost threw up out on the car floor during the drive down to your first day of college or university.

You now get to welcome them back for your first day in the working world.

Hello, queasy stomach. It’s been awhile.

Feeling nervous makes perfect sense once you mesh together your excitement, fear of making mistakes and need to make a good impression.

As the new employee in the office, your actions will likely be closely evaluated, so it’s important to adapt quickly to your new work environment. Dave Cursio, Division Director of Accountemps, offered the following advice regarding your first week on the job.

Common newbie mistakes

Often people are scared to ask questions because they’re afraid it’s a stupid question. When in doubt, ask. This gives you the clarification you need in order to avoid making mistakes in the long run.

On that note, if you do make mistakes in your work, remain calm. Everyone does it. Own up to your mistake and explain why it happened while ensuring your supervisor it won’t happen again.

“You’ll get a lot of respect if you can acknowledge the mistakes you make,” Dave says. Furthermore, if this mistake affected another person, immediately apologize and take steps to guarantee there isn’t a repeat of the same mistake. “Most importantly, move on,” he adds. “Everyone feels bad when they mess up, but own up to it, fix it and move past it.”

How to prevent avoidable mishaps

“Everyday is a learning experience,” Dave says, speaking to the fact that sometimes things come up that you simply can’t avoid. However, there are some best practices regarding some major avoidable slip-ups.

Put in the time

If you are having a hard time with a system they showed you, stay late in order to get to know it better.

Know the company inside and out

Know their mission statement, the services they sell, their five year plan and what the company logo means. “Often your superiors are caught up in their day-to-day at work that they don’t take a step back and really look at the company or remember the mission statement. Knowing these types of things will make you stand out,” Dave says.

Why you must adapt quickly

Plain and simply, first impressions are lasting ones and companies will appreciate someone who easily fits right in.

Even if it’s only a temporary or contract position, making a good impression with these people can open up potential job opportunities to you down the road.

Tips to follow on day one (and beyond!)

Clarify expectations

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what your duties and responsibilities are and if you are unsure, ask!

Be an observer

Often new employees are given some sort of transitional period where they can simply watch and learn their new job. Always make notes, as this shows initiative and implies that you are not only eager to know the job, but to know the job well. This also minimizes repeats of questions that have already been answered. Beyond observing people, observe your work environment as well. Is it a “heads down” type of environment? When do people chat and when do they stay focused? You want to gel with as many people as you can, but at the right time.

Make a lot of contacts

It’s great if you are able to meet someone who’s starting with the company around the same time as you. This gives you an outlet to share your first day stresses and feel more comfortable. Furthermore, be nice to everyone. “Say good morning,” Dave suggests. “This makes a big difference and allows people to notice you and start conversing with you.”


A lot of companies – especially in the summer – put on work events. Friday BBQs. Baseball tournaments. Wednesday potlucks. Participating in these things will bring attention to the fact that you genuinely want to be part of the team and are making your best effort to mesh with the company.

“Anything that you can put your hand up for, try and put your hand up for,” Dave says. “This helps you build up rapport.”

 Photo credit: msaari