Search our site
Search our site
Developing Career Potential

Starting work

So, your job search has reached a successful conclusion and you are ready to start work. What should you expect? Here are a few pointers to help you settle in quickly and make a good first impression on your new employer.

Find out about our top tips:

Look sharp

You should have got a feel for what to wear at work during the interview process. If not, or if you are unsure, call ahead to ask for clarification. Remember that first impressions count, so if in doubt, dress smartly and continue to do so for at least your first 90 days.

Be punctual

On your first day, be sure you know where you have to go and allow plenty of time for your journey.

Don't be a clock-watcher. Remember that rushing out of your workplace at the end of the day looks really bad – check to see if anyone needs anything before you go.


To help you settle into your new job, most companies will use your first day or two as an induction to introduce you to the company, its policies and the way it operates. You will also get to meet the people you will be working with and better understand what you will be doing on a day-to-day basis. Use the opportunity to ask questions, clarify priorities and raise concerns.

Office etiquette

Don't just take a break or go on lunch without checking first – you never know if an urgent deadline has come in or if someone needs your assistance. If you go to get a drink – it's nice just to check if anyone wants anything.

When you go to lunch or a break, ask someone. Apart from the fact that your manager is entitled to know where you are in working hours, if there is a fire drill while you are out, you must be accounted for. Also, in the event of a real emergency, your failure to communicate could cause someone to put themselves in danger unnecessarily.

Be proactive – if you have finished the work you've been given, seek out other tasks to complete or ask if anyone needs your help.

Keep your mobile phone on silent during office hours and do not disappear off to make long personal phone calls. Don't text or play with your phone during working hours.

Pay attention

Make sure you take notes in meetings (even if you don't think you need to!) and ask for help if you don't understand. Expect to get feedback on your performance in your first 90 days and take any criticism positively; learn from the experience of those around you and keep trying to progress. If feedback is not forthcoming, don't be afraid to ask for it.

Introduce yourself

Be polite, smile and try to remember the names of the people you meet. Don't alienate anyone by your behaviour and do try to meet people from different departments – you never know when you will need them! Make time to meet key people at all levels, above and below.

Manage your online reputation

Employers can look you up online just like anyone else and so keep your personal and professional online personas separate and wisely control what can be easily accessed about you online. Think carefully about the content you are happy for anyone to see (on Facebook and blogs etc) and what is best saved for friends.

There have been incidents where graduates have been offered jobs, employers have seen their profiles and the offer was actually withdrawn – so be careful as it could happen to you.

Take things slowly

You may have lots of new ideas in your first few weeks at work and want to suggest different ways of doing things. That's great, but take your time first to judge the lay of the land and the company's culture. As a guiding principle, take any advice you can get in the early days and don't offer too many opinions.

Your employment contract

As an employee, you should receive an employment contract within two months of starting work. This will set down your main terms and conditions of employment: your rate of pay, how many days holiday you will get, your hours of work, etc. Your employer will need to check your right to work legally in the UK so you will need to bring your passport and work permit (if applicable) on your first day. Keep a copy of the signed contract in a safe place.

Probationary periods

It is likely that your employment will be subject to a three or six month probationary period, during which your performance in the job will be monitored and reviewed to make sure you are suitable for the job.

At the end of the probationary period, your manager should have a meeting with you to let you know if you have successfully completed your probationary period. Different contractual terms (such as a longer notice period or perhaps a salary review) may apply on successful completion of the probationary period. Read your contract and ask if unsure.

After-work activities

Take part in social activities offered by your new company: they are a great way to get to know everyone better, make friends and feel like part of the team. If you don't feel comfortable with events involving alcohol then make other people aware of why that is the case and try to arrange something (going to a restaurant, a sporting activity) which is not centred around drinking.

Your pay

If you have a P45 from a previous job, bring it with you on your first day. If you do not have a P45, ask your employer for a P46 form. You will need a P45 or P46 in order to be taxed at the correct rate.

If you're a student and you have a job, you'll have to pay National Insurance and Income Tax if you earn over a certain amount within a tax year.

Most employees are paid directly into their bank accounts and so bring your bank account details with you.

You employer is required to issue you with an itemised pay slip, which you should keep for your records.

Contact us

KU Talent
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 7445
Email us

Contact us

KU Talent
Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 7445
Email us

Kingston University careers - KU Talent

Find out more

Kingston University students can visit the My Kingston Staffspace document intranet site (KU login required) for more information.

KU Talent
Site menu