First Job Basics

Now that you’re working, it’s important to make sure you do a good job! When you do a good job, you’ll be more satisfied with working, you’ll have a better relationship with your coworkers, and your boss will notice, perhaps even giving you praise, a promotion, or a raise.

When you go to work, you will need to remember a lot of small things. These are often things that didn’t matter in high school or college, but once you get a job, they are expected of you.

Dress Appropriately

You need to wear the right clothes to work. What those clothes are depend on the job – some jobs require uniforms, while other jobs may be more relaxed or even require that you wear informal attire. Most jobs have accepted dress codes that are right for your work environment. For example, an office job might require you to wear slacks and a nice shirt, while a job landscaping yards calls for clothes that you can get dirty in.

Naturally, you also need to make sure that your clothes are washed regularly and are in good repair. It is important that you meet these requirements, because by doing so you will show that you fit into the workplace and respect your employer’s standards. Some of these dress codes are even for your own safety.


Once you get a job, you want to be sure that you can safely and reliably get to and from work. You can do this in several ways, for example:

  • If you can drive and have a car, you can drive to work.
  • You can carpool with a friend, family member, or coworker.
  • You can take public transportation, such as a bus or train.

If you’re a bit nervous or unsure about how to use public transportation or are worried about how to pay for it, agencies like Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) or other job placement services can offer training in how to use public transportation and can help you get a pass to make your trips easier and cheaper.

Another option is paratransit. Paratransit offers door-to-door transportation services to people with disabilities. Click here to find a paratransit service where you live.

Working with Others

When you work, you have to deal with other people on a day-to-day basis. Whether most of your communication with other people is face-to-face, over the phone, or via email, you need to make sure that you have a good relationship with them so that you can be productive in your job.

There are many ways to make sure your work relationships go well. Here are a few tips:

  • Always use polite language. Don’t use obscenities.
  • Say hello to people when you see them in the morning. It means people will associate you with a positive attitude.
  • Don’t get into arguments. If you have a real problem with somebody, it is best to speak to your human resources manager.
  • Try to help your coworkers when you aren’t busy.
  • Thank your coworkers when they help you.

There are many other ways of developing good relationships with your coworkers. Taking steps like these will make your job more pleasant and will help you get more done.

Appropriate Behavior

There are many aspects of appropriate behavior in the workplace. Of course, you need to be honest, come to work on time, and work hard. Social conversation is fine during lunches or on your breaks, but you should avoid spending too much time gossiping with your coworkers or on the phone with your friends. If you use a computer at work, you should not use it for nonwork activities. Take your job seriously – your company’s success depends on its employees doing a good job.

Employee Handbook

When you are hired, your supervisor or your employer’s human resources person will give you with an employee handbook. If you use a computer at work, this handbook is probably also available on the office’s local network. The handbook explains all of the rules at the office, and also tells you about your benefits and rights as an employee.

The handbook is a very important resource for you, because it will explain many things that you may find confusing. You also need to read the handbook to make sure that you are fulfilling the duties of your job.

Human Resources

Sometimes there may be issues that come up that you cannot resolve on your own. You may have difficulties with one of your coworkers or perhaps you don’t understand your employee benefits. Sometimes an employer may even make a mistake on your paycheck! These are all issues that you can bring up with your employer’s human resources manager.

There are also specific disability issues that you may wish to talk about with your employer’s human resources office. The decision to disclose your disability is an important one and is discussed later. Requesting accommodations for your disability and what to do if you feel that you’ve been discriminated against are discussed in the Rights and Responsibilities section of this article .

When you communicate about a serious issue with your human resources person, do it in writing. By sending a letter or email, there will be a record of the issue if your problems continue.

Disability Disclosure

You may wonder if you should tell your employer about your disability. By law, you do not have to disclose your disability unless you need to request a reasonable accommodation from your employer so you can perform an essential function of your job. If you do need an accommodation, you will have to tell the person or people who will help you get it. This could be your human resources manager or your supervisor. You don’t have to tell anybody else.

However, there are other reasons you may want, or not want, to disclose your disability to your employer or to your coworkers – it all depends on you and your situation. DB101's article on Job Supports and Accommodations has a lot more information about this decision.


To be productive at work, you may need to ask for a reasonable accommodation, which is a change to your job or your work environment that allows you to do your job well.

There are many different types of reasonable accommodations and they depend upon your needs. Some examples of accommodations include:

  • Making your workplace wheelchair accessible by putting in a ramp
  • Purchasing equipment like voice-recognition software
  • Providing sign-language interpreters
  • Part-time or other flexible work hours

Your employer must give you reasonable accommodations if you need them because of your disability. Click here to read more about how to ask for the accommodation you need. It is very important for you to request accommodations if you need them. If you need an accommodation but don’t request it, you are potentially setting yourself up for failure in the workplace.

Learn more