FIRST days in a new job are often viewed with apprehension - and for good reason. A good first day can pave the way for a positive career with a new company.

But get off on the wrong foot with your new boss and you can be assured that you will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.

Human resource experts agree that being punctual for work is the top rule, regardless of what job or sector you are in.

"Guard against situations that could potentially make you late, such as bad traffic, by leaving home a little earlier than usual so there's some buffer time should such circumstances arise," said Mr Francis Koh, managing director of Capita Staffing and Search.

He also advises asking questions about everything you are unsure of, a tip that could prevent mistakes being made along the way. "The first day at work can be overwhelming, by sheer virtue of the fact that there are so many new things to learn as well as meetings with new colleagues."

His final piece of advice: Keep an open mind. Comparing a new job with your old one will only lead to excessive worrying over minor details that may ultimately hinder your work.

First-day expectations can be equally daunting for senior management, said Mr Daniel Soh, managing partner of Leadership International, which deals in recruitment of senior management staff.

This type of new hires, he said, are expected to "hit the ground running" from the first week, especially because many of them are hired to address specific challenges in the organisation, such as revamping its business operations.

He said that while the weight of these expectations can make for a stressful start for senior management hires, the best way to deal with it is to do some homework before starting the job.

"Try to gain a more detailed understanding of the challenges and expectations that were discussed during the interview stage.

"Give yourself some time to size up what the company needs, assess the talent, accurately diagnose (the problem). A rush to act to make a mark may turn out to be a costly blunder."

Once a new hire is settled into the new office, Mr Soh recommends drawing up a list of key contacts with whom there will be frequent communication.

"A new C-suite executive has to understand the dynamics of the senior management team and the board. Spend some time with the board members and your peers to assess how they work, both individually and as a team."

Most firms have structured orientation programmes in place and new hires can often expect a packed first day with a tour of the office, introductions to new colleagues and IT policy briefings.

But if you are starting off in a firm with no formal induction programme, Capita's Mr Koh suggests scheduling a meeting with your direct supervisor to discuss your role more specifically.

This, he said, will also give you time to set targets and discuss your possible career progression. "(Use your position as) a newcomer to provide a fresh perspective on the job. This is something your colleagues and managers would appreciate, especially if they have been in the same role for a long time and need some inspiration."