The first day at a new job is typically a nerve-racking combination of excitement, anxiety, and often, puke. You feel your stomach churning, trying to remember if the bathroom was down the hall to the left or down the hall to the right as you jump up and narrowly avoid knocking over the cute receptionist as you run through the corridor spewing chunks all down the wall. Or maybe not. But that is one way to screw up your first day at work, and as if you weren’t already nervous enough, here are 10 more ways that you are going to make a horrible impression, cause massive amounts of damage, or flush your career down the toilet.
1. Under dress – We hope this is the worst mistake you make, but it will still make you feel uncomfortable enough that you might never totally recover, always feeling like the office slob, rookie, or idiot. Because really, who is dumb enough to wear jeans on the first day when everybody else is in a shirt and slacks? Hopefully not you. But then again, if that was your only sin on the first day, you may count yourself lucky.
2. Arrive late - Even if you have a valid excuse, i.e a horrendous accident on the highway, your wife went into labor, you went into labor, or you got car-jacked, you still are to blame because you should have left early enough to account for all possible scenarios.
3. Make a bad joke – While trying to fit in and get to know people, you tell a joke that you realize, just as you utter the punch line, is totally sexist, racist, or just plain stupid. You get polite chuckles at best, but more likely cold stares and a “that’s really not appropriate” from the HR director who has control over all your benefits. Smooth move x-lax.
4. Get caught checking Facebook/email - You were unemployed for several months and became accustomed to checking your email ever other minute and playing mafia wars all day long — and so you really struggled all morning to not log on. But during the afternoon, as you enter the 6th hour of “reading” the employee manual and the 5 thousand page tome of Policies and Procedures, you decide to indulge yourself. Naturally, the office snitch walks by just as you open up mafia wars and now you’ve cemented your status as a slacker.
5. Forget your new boss’s name – You interviewed with him/her twice, spoke with him/her on the phone several times, and wrote down his/her name several more times. You know his/her name, and yet, you still screw it up and call him/her “Mr. Schmlph.” Several times. Way to make a good impression.
6. Not asking enough questions (then screwing something up because of it) – The first day at work usually involves information overload. You are told to read all kinds of super exciting orientation material, are shown how to log in to your email account, and how send mail. And of course, most of this goes sailing right on by you but do you ask any questions? Of course not, and as a result, you end up mailing the schematics of the companies super-secret prototype gizmo to the Chinese consulate. You sure know how to make a difference in the world.
7. Asking too many questions – The only thing worse than not asking enough questions and screwing stuff up, is asking too many questions. Seriously! Give it a rest, you’ll figure it all out in time. Just don’t blow up the building or pass off state secrets and you should be fine.
8. Make a pass at coworker – You may be excited, thrilled about the new job and feeling super confident, but do yourself a favor and keep it in your pants. Start coming on to the hotie in the cubicle next to you before you know anything about her, the office, or her super angry super buff boyfriend who has been training for the UFC for 9 years, and you’re in super hot water.
9. Complain about a coworker – Much like the danger of making passes before knowing the lay of the land, you want to keep your mouth shut before you know who you can trust, who is the office suck-up, and who needs to be sabotaged via clever scheming. Say something disparaging to the wrong person about the wrong person, and your days are numbered. So again, smile, be polite, and keep your mouth shut.
10. Break the copier/coffee maker/fax machine/building – You’re probably going to mess something up. Its just the way things go. Just try not to start a fire or download a virus. If the Copier isn’t working, have the receptionist show you again. Otherwise you’re sure to bust the broken down piece of crap and you really don’t want to start your new job already 6 paychecks in the hole. Play it safe and don’t touch anything. Not even a pencil.