4 Work Habits to Start on Day One

Small group of adults smiling at a meeting

“Congratulations on your new job!”

If you haven’t heard this lately, chances are you will soon. According to recent data reported by The Balance, people change jobs an average of 12 times during the course of their careers.

What does that mean for you? In a job environment where change is the norm, you have a vested interest in making sure your next new job leads you down the right path to future growth and opportunity. And the key to accomplishing that is establishing strong work habits. Right away.

We spoke to some expert Aerotek recruiters to get insights on what you can do to set the right tone for your new job, and all the new jobs of the future you’ll eventually find yourself in.

Here’s what they recommend:

Show up

First thing’s first: You can’t perform adequately in any job without actually being there. Aerotek Account Recruiting Manager Matthew Naples says, “Attendance, punctuality and willingness to work are habits that make a huge difference.” Senior Professional Recruiter Matt Wiehe adds, “As a recruiter, obviously the worst call you can get is if someone just does not show up at all, and a close second is someone showing up late.”

One thing you might not often hear about attendance and punctuality — it’s hard. It requires dedication. Getting up every day and giving yourself enough time to arrive in professionally appropriate attire, physically and mentally prepared for the day’s work — regardless of traffic or other unforeseen obstacles — requires a lot of hard work in and of itself. But the difference in how you’re viewed by employers when you arrive five minutes early as opposed to five minutes late is well worth the investment of your time and energy.


Whether you’re a full-time, part-time, or contract employee, communicating with new employers can seem daunting at first. The impulse is to not make waves as the new person. But Aerotek Senior Professional Recruiter Jackie Ross says you can make some positive waves right away by communicating openly with your new team members. She says, “A strong work habit that doesn’t always come naturally to new employees is asking questions, especially early on in the assignment.”

What’s one area of communication Matt Wiehe would focus on? “Giving and receiving feedback.” He explains, “Many employers assume their new employees will automatically act and respond just as other employees do, which is hardly ever the case. New employees want to know how they’re doing in their roles even more so than more tenured peers, but at the same time there’s a reluctance to ask for feedback. There’s also a tendency to assume the worst-case scenario if you’re not getting input on your performance from a new employer. By asking for performance feedback, you’ll show you’re ready to bridge any communication gaps that may develop and help ensure a strong relationship on both sides.

Be honest

Sharing your honest opinion with an employer (or a recruiting partner) can seem like a scary proposition, but honesty plays a vital role in employer-employee communication. It makes a big difference to a recruiter’s ability to find the right fit for contractor placements as well.

According to Aerotek recruiter Matt Wiehe, he prefers the job candidates he works with to “tell me what I don’t want to hear.” Why? Because, he says, “It’s always better to tell me if the drive is too far, the money is too low or the company is just not a good fit. We have so many ways to help job seekers, and the last thing I ever want to do is put someone in a position where they’re not successful because I wasn’t on the same page with them every step of the way.”

Before you apply during your interview process, and on the job from day one, honesty is the best policy for communicating with new employers and peers.

Use your support system

Establishing good work habits isn’t always easy or simple. You have to manage how you’ll be perceived in addition to learning all the new information and ways of doing things associated with a new job. Lean on support wherever you can.

Matt Wiehe says, “First days can be stressful for new employees, which is why as a recruiter, I always like to meet and walk in with my contractors whenever I can. That way, they see a familiar face prior to meeting a lot of new people.”

Sounds like a nice way to start your new job off on the right foot — with a positive mindset.