Your New Job

Your First Day on the Job

The first impression is important as this sets the tone for your future workplace relationships. First impressions are based upon your actions, comments, dress, and non-verbal behavior.

Getting Started

Almost everyone is nervous before starting a new job.  Get a good night’s sleep and wake up in time to get everything done without rushing around.  Dress appropriately, not too fancy or too sloppy but as if you belong there – if in doubt, ask.  Hopefully you observed how others were dressed at your interview, so you already have a good idea how to dress on your first day. If you have received a written policy concerning dress, then the first day will be even less confusing. If you are to wear a uniform, make sure it fits, is clean and wrinkle free.

Make sure you know who to report to and what to bring with you, often employers will need to see your ID and other documentation.  Arrive at least 15-minutes early so you have time to get ready for your shift.  Generally you will meet with your supervisor who will show you around and introduce you to other employees – try to remember their names.

Then, you will likely be shown your work area and your job duties will be explained to you.  Make sure and ask if you have questions – don’t be embarrassed if you do not understand something.

After you have been doing the job for a few hours, wait for a convenient time and ask for feedback.  Ask if you are doing things as expected and if you could make any improvements.  You should also do this every few weeks so you know where you stand.  Take the suggestions seriously.  If you’re told you are doing fine, you might ask if there is anything you could improve.  If you have some free time, ask if there is anything else that you can be doing or if you can learn a new task.

What to Expect on the First Day

·         People may ignore you. They may go on with their business without noticing you are there, or may embarrass you just for fun as an initiation to the workplace. Remember, you will not be the "new" person forever.

·         People may also go out of their way to welcome you to the company.

·         High emotions, excitement, anticipation, nervousness, anxiety, fear.

Surviving the First Day

·         If there is any confusion about what you should be doing on your first day, seek clarification.

Work Ethic and Absence from Work

Employers want dependability and determination.  They do not want poor work habits, absence, laziness and carelessness.  You are the one in charge of your attitude and behavior.  If you want to succeed at the job, you need to know what is expected of you and find a way to make that happen.  Remember a good work ethic will lead to a good job reference, which will assist you in getting a better job in the future.

Two reasons for missing work

·         Special Occasions (ask your boss at least 1-2 weeks ahead of time).

Steps to take to report Lateness or Absence

1.     Have a good reason why you are absent or late.

2.     Call your employer ASAP.

3.     Make sure you talk to the person in charge.

4.     Explain your reason for missing work: clearly, completely, respectfully and honestly.

Remembering Names

Try and remember the names of the people you meet. Of course it would be unrealistic, not to mention nearly impossible, to remember everyone's name, but you should work on remembering a few each day, pay particular attention to those people you will be working with directly.  Don't be afraid to ask. Asking someone whose name you remember for someone's name you've forgotten is the least awkward.  Learning other’s names shows you are invested in your job. 

What to Expect in the First Week

 How Much to Produce in Your First Week

How much you do in your first week can be critical to your success on the job. Striving for quality is most important... practice quality from the beginning. While each job differs in terms of what is expected, do the best job that you can on everything you are given.  Expect to have either way too much to do - or not enough.  If there is little to do, stay busy by job shadowing someone else, or look for relevant information to read.  If there seems too much to do, prioritize the best you can.  At the end of your first week, meet with your supervisor and go over job duties, objectives, and expectations.  You will not be able to master everything at once, determine what you need to work on first in order to be productive.

What to Expect in the First Month

At this point, you should have a handle on your responsibilities at the new job. You know where to go when you get to work in the morning. You also know where to get coffee and where to eat lunch. And you know who to ask for help. You've likely gone through orientation and been given a company handbook if there is such a thing. Continuing to ask questions is your best strategy for further learning.  Your initial tasks and routines have probably been outlined.

Take all jobs seriously! If your employer can see that you have a professional attitude and respect the fact that all tasks, no matter how small, are important, it won't be long before you are working on better, more interesting jobs.

Being a Good Employee

Watch Your Environment

Much of what you will learn will be experiential.  Watch how things work.  Does communication happen through emails, memos, notes, or verbally?  When do you take breaks, how long, where?

Be Part of the Team

Make an active effort to become a part of the team. A major part of working is being able to get along well with coworkers.  A positive attitude is an important part of this.  Some characteristics of a positive attitude include:

·         Be friendly, open, willing to learn, enthusiastic, a good listener, confident, prompt, courteous, hard worker

·         Be a comfortable person to be around, communicate openly and freely

·         Speak confidently, avoid mumbling

·         Shake your fellow employees hands with confidence

·         Look people in the eye when you are introduced

·         Offer a warm smile

Getting Along

·         Don’t try to wow everyone with your wide array of skills/knowledge

Be an Effective Listener

·         Pay attention...don't fake it

Own up to Your Mistakes

Don't cover them up, downplay, make excuses, or blame someone else. It will only make the situation worse and make you look immature, dishonest, and/or unprofessional


You will likely establish relationships with co-workers and supervisors.  Relationships you encounter at work are different than the ones you have anywhere else. There may be people you wouldn't normally choose to spend time with whom you find yourself spending lots of time, perhaps even as much as 40 hours a week!

It is essential to recognize that work is not foremost a social situation. While it is probably to your advantage to be friendly with people, you should be most interested in establishing and maintaining constructive and professional relationships. Do not let your personal feelings, whether they be good or bad, interfere with your ability to succeed in your new job.

If you happen to make a new friend consider this an added bonus, icing on the cake. If there is conflict with a certain individual, try and remain focused on the task at hand. Concern yourself less with a person's behavior than with your need to work together. The basics of work relationships are discussed in the following sections:

     Act Professionally

Very briefly, some basic rules for establishing and maintaining professional relationships include:

·         treating people with respect and in return expecting to be treated the same

·         recognizing the difference between over-socializing and appropriate communication

·         avoid using people for personal gain

·         avoid personal gossip and those who spread this kind of gossip. People who gossip to you are probably gossiping about you

·         take the high road - don't assume the worst from someone's behavior or treatment of you. Give people the benefit of the doubt

·         learn to forgive - don't hold a grudge

·         recognize that not everyone will agree with you or approach a situation in the same way you do

·         avoid using company time for personal business such as personal visits, phone calls, and emails


Toward the end of the first month it is appropriate and beneficial to review your new job and assess your satisfaction with the direction things are going. A personal assessment can be as simple as asking yourself a few questions.

·         Am I happy?

·         What do I like about this job? What don't I like?

·         What can I change?

·         Where can I go from here?

·         Do I feel I am making progress?

Asking staff for feedback will also help in your assessment. They will be able to offer insight into any change in your behavior (good or bad) or mental well-being (including stress level) since you started at the new job. Personal assessments are beneficial not only at the end of the first month but throughout the duration of any job. The best way to prevent issues from getting out of hand is to stay aware of how you are dealing with them. It is a lot easier to change them before they grow too unmanageable.

Performance Reviews

Many companies conduct performance reviews of employees. These usually don't occur until the three, or six-month mark.  A performance review is an evaluation of how well you are doing your job. It will likely cover:

·         both the specifics (team work, time management) and your general performance

·         discussion of your strengths and weaknesses

·         creation of plans to improve on problem areas

·         setting objectives for the next year

·         discussion of potential for promotion

·         discussion of the possibility of a raise

Very few people look forward to performance reviews. Accepting criticism is never easy but it is essential. The best way to learn and grow is to know your weaknesses so you are able to work on them. And the truth is, it is usually easier for others to identify those weaknesses. We can always improve. Accepting this fact graciously and working to strengthen your weaknesses will both demonstrate your professionalism and allow you to move ahead.

The Paperwork

I-9 and W-4

When you start a new job, the employer will need you to complete some paperwork.  The I-9 is a federal form that you are required to complete.  The employer is required to verify who you are and that you are legally able to work in this country.  The W-4 form shows how you want to have taxes deducted from your paychecks.  Examples of both of these forms are included at the end of this module.

Understanding Your Pay and Paycheck

When you start your new job, depending on the pay cycle, it may be several weeks before you receive your first check.  The most common pay cycles are weekly, monthly, and bi-monthly (ex. 1st & 15th or 15th & 30th).  Companies deal with this differently.  Depending on the pay cycle and when you were hired, companies may have a one-week delay, some have a two-week delay, and some companies have no delay at all.

Gross Pay vs. Net Pay

If you work at a full-time job that pays $6.50/hr. your gross pay would be $260 ($6.50 X 40 hours).  However, that will not be your net (take-home) pay.  Most people understand that they will get some money taken out of their check for taxes and other benefits. However, some people are alarmed at the amount.  Some common deductions:

·         Taxes– All workers have federal, state, Social Security (FICA), and Medicare taxes deducted from their earnings. Depending on where you live, you may also have local (city and/or county) taxes taken out. FICA and Medicare taxes are based on a percentage of a person's earnings.  Your employer pays for half of the total amount of FICA and Medicare taxes that the government collects. Federal and state taxes are deducted based on an estimate of how much you will owe in yearly taxes. The estimated amount is based on federal and state tax withholding forms (W-4) that all employees fill out. In general, the more exemptions a person claims on these forms, the less they will have taken out of each check. In most cases, residents at the Haag Home should claim 1 exemption (see staff if you have any questions).

·         Benefits – Many companies offer a choice of benefits. The employer may pay the full cost of the benefits or the employee may pay for part of the cost. A common example is health insurance. The cost of health insurance may be $250 per month. The company may pay $180 and you have to pay $70. While $70 a month may seem expensive, it is much cheaper then paying for your own doctor's bills.  Other benefits, may include long-term disability, dental insurance, and retirement fund. The cost of the employee's portion of the benefits is added together with the taxes to come up with the total amount of deductions.


Some employers offer overtime for working more than 8-hours in a day but in most cases only if your paid time exceeds 40-hours per week.  In most-cases, over time is paid at time and one-half (ex. If your regular pay is $6/hr., your overtime pay would be $9/hr. – 6 X 1.5).  In most cases, your supervisor would need to authorize any overtime in advance.  Ask your supervisor about the company policy.

How to Read Your Paycheck Stub

It is your responsibility to review and confirm that all information on your paycheck stub is accurate, including the spelling of your name, your address, your social security number, the amount and type of your deductions, and the amount and type of your earnings. Benefits eligible employees are also responsible for confirming accurate accrual and use of all paid annual leave and sick leave. Errors should be reported to your supervisor immediately.








Sample Paychecks

Check Stub

Check Stub

Check Stub

Employment Mod 2 – Worksheet

1.     How will you find out how to dress appropriately for your first day on the job? ________________




2.   What does it mean to have a ‘good work ethic’?  _________________________________________






3.   If you need to get new contacts but cannot schedule the appointment when you are off work, how much notice should you give your supervisor?

A.    At least 24-hours

B.    1-3 days

C.    1-2 weeks

D.    30-days


4.   You missed your bus and are going to be late for work – what should you do?

A.    Call work, explain the situation and tell them when you can make it in

B.    Go back home and skip work for the day

C.    Catch the next bus and hope your supervisor doesn’t notice

D.    Go back home and call in sick


5.   You are finding that you have free time after completing all your assigned duties – what should you do?

A.    Slow down so that you will always ‘look’ busy

B.    Ask your supervisor if there is anything else you can do or if you can learn a new task

C.    Finish your duties quickly and find somewhere you can take a nap without bothering anyone

D.    Find a coworker and talk about the great party you went to last Friday night


6.   Adam just started a new job and worked 50 hours at $10/hour.  He expected his check to be $500 but when he opened it he found it was only $432.50.  What is the most likely explanation for the difference?

A.    He must have misunderstood how much he was supposed to be paid

B.    He forgot that taxes would be deducted from his check by his employer

C.    His employer is trying to cheat him out of some money and hoped he wouldn’t notice

D.    He just did the math wrong


7.   If a company pays overtime at time and one-half and the hourly regular pay rate is $8, what would the hourly overtime pay rate be?

A.    $4

B.    $8

C.    $12

D.    $16


Use the example pay stubs at the end of the module to answer the following questions:

8.   What is John Doe’s hourly pay rate?  __________________


9.   Does Metro Services pay overtime?  Yes    No


If so what is the hourly overtime rate?  ___________


10.  Does Metro Services offer paid vacation?  Yes    No