Ken Coleman is host of The Ken Coleman Show and the top-rated EntreLeadership Podcast. (Photo: Submitted)

Your first few days at a new job can be an emotional experience. You’re excited about the possibilities, but a little nervous about starting a new chapter in your career. There’s pressure to perform, and the expectation to achieve great things. There are a lot of new people to meet, too. It can feel like drinking from a firehose.

I believe you’ll feel more grounded and confident if you spend some time preparing for this transition. You may not be able to completely avoid a case of the jitters, but here are a few ideas that will help make your first days on the job rewarding and a little less stressful.

Plan your commute. Don’t show up late on your first day at a new job. Use these tips:

Drive your commute the morning before, so you can get a feel for traffic.

Scout out your parking location. 

Set a couple of alarms in case you sleep through the first one.

Budget 20 extra minutes for the drive.

Choose your clothes wisely. Your clothing makes a strong first impression. Choose something comfortable, but professional, for your new work environment.

Don’t try to prove yourself. You don’t have to crush all your goals or influence all your teammates on your first day. Just be present, and soak it all up.

Use a real notebook. Ask as many questions as you can, and carry a notebook to write down the answers. Pen and paper are obvious ways of showing you’re ready to learn. Typing on your phone, even if you’re taking notes, sends the wrong impression.

Keep your lunch plans open. Make yourself available for lunch with coworkers on your first day. And hey, just because you’re the new kid on the block doesn’t mean you can’t extend the invitation. Going out to eat on your first day gives you one less thing to worry about at home — and it could lead to some productive conversations.

Explore your surroundings. Walk around your new workspace and observe. Note the facilities, the layout, where the break room and fridge are, and where you can find a cup of coffee for your afternoon energy slumps. Also, take some time to settle into your own space.

Get to know your teammates. You’re going to meet lots of new people. And yes, you’ll forget everyone’s names and have to ask them again. Don’t let that stop you from extending a firm handshake, offering a big smile, and being open and warm.

Get to know your leader. Everyone knows they should meet their leader the first week on the job. But I want you to be intentional about your early conversations with your leader. You should ask for crystal-clear clarity on what’s expected of you, so you can know your role, accept your role, and maximize your role. Ask your leader questions about their life outside work, too. This person is going to have a huge impact on your career, so start building your relationship now.

Learn the company structure. Most companies have an official organizational chart that explains the operating structure. Ask to see the org chart, and have your leader explain how it all works. Get a sense of how you fit into the big picture.

Take in the company culture. Company culture is the personality, beliefs and values of the organization all rolled into one. Hopefully you did some digging into the culture during the interview process, but now you get to see firsthand how it plays out day to day.

Listen twice as much as you talk. Take in as much information as possible before you start airing your own opinions. This is especially important if you’re stepping into a leadership position. You can’t start raising a ruckus and disrupting the culture until you’ve proven you’re worth following.

Understand your benefits. Connect with human resources to go over basic benefits questions. Here are a few topics you might want to discuss:

Health, vision and dental insurance.

Sick leave, paid time off and holidays.

Rolling over an old 401(k).

Opportunities to get involved (softball league, anyone?).

Remember, no one expects you to get everything right immediately. But taking these simple steps will put you ahead of the game.

Ken Coleman is the nationally syndicated radio host of The Ken Coleman Show and No.1 national best-selling author. He has been featured in Forbes, appeared on Fox News, Fox Business Network, and the Rachel Ray Show. Since 2014, he has served at Ramsey Solutions, where he offers expert advice to help thousands of people every day discover what they were meant to do and how to land their dream job. Follow Ken on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook , and YouTube or

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