Starting a New Job? Here’s What to Take on Day One

If you take care of the little things, the big things become manageable.” — Heloise

Congratulations on your new job. If you’re not nervous on your first day, you’re not normal. To ease the jitters, it helps to know you’re prepared. Besides studying up on the company website and enjoying a few last unstructured days, spend some time collecting the nitty-gritty stuff to take to work on day one.

Cash in your wallet. Some of us run around with just a debit or credit card for expenses. But what if the vending machine asks for quarters? Do you really want to be borrowing money from co-workers you met two hours ago? If your new office mate offers to take you to lunch, leaving the cash tip is an appreciative gesture. How about bus fare or parking money?

Office Phone Number. Put it in your cell phone in case the building requires a pass or code to enter. Maybe no one thought to give you the new guy a key or badge. Note: Once you’re at work, it’s best to set your phone silent so you’re not distracted. Or rude.

Paperwork. Call ahead and ask HR if there are any documents you need to take to work. They may want to see a photo I.D. and maybe a birth certificate or passport, and Social Security card. Make sure you have the names, addresses and phone numbers of your emergency contacts stored in your phone for easy reference. Have the Social Security numbers and birthdates of dependents if they will be covered by an insurance plan.

Leather Padfolio. Maybe you think it looks unfashionable, but you’ll thank me for suggesting that you bring something like a leather-bound padfolio. So handy! It can hold those papers you bring with you. You’ll have a place to take notes and you’ll look organized when you have one place to tuck the paperwork you’re given, like the employee handbook, health plan papers, and holiday schedule.

A Nice Pen. There will be facts you need to quickly jot down, or even take notes in a meeting. How about the names — and positions — of all the people you’ll be meeting? You can make cheat sheets of all these facts later. On orientation day you’ll be asking questions and you can’t be expected to remember every answer. Where is the best take-out place for lunch? The closest pharmacy? Don’t be afraid to look geeky. And take two pens, just in case.

Emergency Kit and Lunch. Think the way your mother would. What might you need? Breath mints (not gum), aspirin, medications, travel-size deodorant? The jury is still out on whether to bring lunch your first day. Some say going out to lunch with co-workers is your chance to get to know them, and others say you need to be prepared to take lunch at your desk or in the break room. What if you bring a tuna sandwich and the boss insists on taking you to his favorite restaurant? Best bet is to pack something non-perishable, so you can go with whatever happens. Not tuna.

The Right Outfit. This list wouldn’t be complete without a few words on wardrobe. Think a few steps ahead, and dress in layers. Be prepared for an over-heated or over-cooled environment. At the same time, you need to dress for the position you were hired for, as though you were going to (yet another!) interview. Dress as your immediate supervisor does. But be sure your clothes are comfortable enough to make you feel confident. Wear your lucky shirt or favorite pair of shoes. As if you needed another reason to look good on your initial day: you might have your picture taken for your company I. D. card.

Carry-All. There’s nothing like a brief case to make you feel pulled together. Even if it contains your customary peanut butter sandwich, an attaché of some kind gives you clout. Women can carry a tote, briefcase or large purse to transport all these items. You want to come ready for what the day holds, but you don’t want to look like you’re moving in. Save the potted plant and framed photos of you windsurfing in the Bahamas for the next week.

I love a list like this – the simple things that make life easier. Your first day at a newjob can be scary and is bound to produce some surprises. Doesn’t it feel good to know that you can minimize the unnecessary ones simply by packing a bag of essentials beforehand?

And if you are still looking for your next job, let’s fine-tune that resume and LinkedIn profile while you are envisioning yourself on that first day. Positive thinking works wonders!

Author: Mir Garvy

I’ve written resumes for 2,000+ job seekers just like you—and helped my clients land jobs with companies like Amazon, SAS, Google, Duke University, Travelocity, Cisco Systems, GlaxoSmithKline, Expedia, and IBM.