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The Caterer

First day at work

27 April 2005
First day at work

Having landed your dream job, you need to make sure you navigate the first day and week without giving your employer and work colleagues a chance to think the wrong decision has been made.
There are a few basics that should set you on your way to a happy relationship with the boss and your colleagues.

Before you get there:

Do as much research as is practical about the company and your role. It might be worth a call to your new boss to ask for any material that might help you during your first days.

Day one:

•Know exactly where you are expected to report, and at what time. Do not be late on your first day. Allow extra time for transport, make sure you know the way if you're driving, and double-check train times and any possible engineering works that might slow you down.

•Be sure you know who you are reporting to and how to pronounce their name.

•If you're working at a head office, rather than an individual hotel or restaurant, it is possible there will be a security check as you go into the building. Know whether you are expected to bring passport photos for your security pass. If the security manager creates these on site, spend a little extra time making yourself look presentable - those security pass photos can be very embarrassing a few months down the road.

•If you want to be paid at the end of the first week or month, help the personnel department out by providing your banking details in order for them to pay you directly. Your account number, the bank sort code and the bank's address should be enough.

•You may also be required to take your P45 form from your previous employer. It's just a record of the money you've earned, the tax paid and the amount you are expected to pay in the current tax year. Your new employer will appreciate it if you can hand it over at the start.

•Have a self-introduction speech prepared. This may sound silly, but not half as silly as you'll feel when the head of department or hotel manager asks you to stand up and introduce yourself to the team and your mind goes blank. Keep it simple, and think about what image you want to portray and what you feel it's important for others to know. For example: "Hi, I'm Tom. I've been a commis chef at the Country Hotel for the past year. During that time, I did a stage with Rick Stein, and it helped me focus on quality and fresh ingredients, and has improved how I work. In my spare time, I enjoy mountain biking. I look forward to meeting and working with you all."

Week one

•Try to get to know your work colleagues and build good relationships with your team. These are the people who will help alert you to pitfalls and can also tell you of the perks of the company/job.

•If you haven't got a job description, get one. Make sure you know what your focus is supposed to be and what the boss and organisation feel are important. There's no point working flat out on something that no-one else recognises.

•Be accommodating, but don't let people walk all over you - if you were hired to do a specific job, make sure you don't get seen as the junior dogsbody instead. Be polite but firm, and set out your responsibilities early on.

•Meet deadlines and manage your time effectively. Ask colleagues for information and help to keep you on track.

•DO - listen, be modest, exercise tact and perform from Day One

•DON'T - talk about how it was done in your last job; join a clique until you know exactly who's who; criticise your new or former employers or colleagues (it's a small industry and word gets around quickly)

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•At the end of the first week, it's tempting to go out and have a few drinks with the new team and unwind. Just don't relax totally - do you really want to be known for your bartop dance routine for the rest of the time at the organisation?

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