Searching for a new job can be one of the biggest challenges you’ll ever face in your career – particularly if you’re new to the industry and have no prior experience to help sell you as a candidate. For those that struggle with job hunting, it can sometimes take months of applications and interviews before you receive confirmation of a job offer from an employer.
Once you are successful though, starting a new job is not always straightforward. Companies will often include some form of caveat in the offer that outlines an initial probationary period to see if you’re a fit for the team and company culture. For many businesses, this standard procedure serves a degree of protection as in some cases, candidates may oversell themselves during the interview process which is then not identified until a number of weeks have passed in their role.
There are however some steps you can take to ensure your position is secure within your new role well past the initial probationary period.
1) COVER THE BASICS
While most people never set out to cause problems for themselves in their job and understand how important it is to impress their new boss, some of the basic dos and don’t are more important than ever while on a probationary period. Potential issues include poor timekeeping by turning up late every day, constantly checking what time it is, leaving as soon as your obligated work hours have finished, arguing with fellow staff, or dismissing any feedback provided. At all times, it’s important to remain positive, appear open and willing to learn, try to show enthusiasm for your role, and where possible, socialise with fellow team members. If it appears that you’re not getting anything positive out of your time in the company, your manager will only assume the role isn’t quite right for you. Completing the tasks outlined in your job spec are not enough – you must feel like a part of the team that is onboard with the same mission as everyone else.
2) BE ACCOUNTABLE
As is the case with any new role, you’re going to make mistakes. Accept it. As a new person to the team, there will be things that are different to a past role that will take time to familiarise yourself with. It’s fairly unlikely that your manager will overreact when you’re still finding your feet, but you should always assume responsibility for any mistakes you do make and be open about them. If you’re the type of colleague who passes the blame onto other people or becomes defensive when a mistake is highlighted, you will fail to build trust with your team and direct manager. Taking credit for successes is always easy, but demonstrating the ability to take ownership of a mistake and fix it will help to show a level of maturity that will help to make you a trusted member of the team.
Remember, in your first few weeks and months in a role, your manager will be paying close attention to your performance, so don’t ever feel that mistakes can be swept under the carpet and ignored. They will notice, so be proactive about being repairing any problems you have caused.
3) AVOID OFFICE POLITICS & GOSSIP
“You will never believe what Keith from Accounting did at the weekend!”
Don’t do it. Never get involved in taking sides of expressing opinions about things that don’t concern you in the office environment as they will have inevitable consequences. It’s quite easy to find yourself taking aligning with the opinions of some colleagues and jumping into discussions without realising it, so don’t do it. Your job is to be like Switzerland – completely neutral on all issues – because ultimately, you can’t be confident of who you might be upsetting and what the repercussions may be.
Also, it’s generally best to avoid talking about politics, gender, religion or any other controversial topics that may draw unwanted attention to you. While it’s easy to use such topics to open up conversations with people, it’s best to keep them for people for people who already know you, trust you, and won’t be able to negatively impact your career if they disagree.
4) BE CAREFUL ABOUT TAKING TIME OFF
If you have already booked a vacation before starting a new role, you need to make this clear during the interview process. Contrary to a lot of advice out there, it is perfectly acceptable to take time off during your probationary period if your manager is informed well in advance, it isn’t for a prolonged period of time, and that you can justify the time out of the office. Certainly, if you’re feeling ill, you should still try your best to go to work as you can always leave early if you need to.
However, if this is not possible, call into the office as soon as possible, apologise for your absence, and offer to bring in a doctor’s note upon return to work. It’s unexplained or poorly communicated absences that will hurt your chances of making past the initial probation period in a new company – not a couple of days off for valid reasons.
5) COMMUNICATE REGULARLY AND USE YOUR INITIATIVE
Want to be an unforgettable addition to the team? Maintain a good level of communication with your teammates during your probationary period, provide assistance when required, and always seek opportunities for growth. This will help you to feel more relaxed in your role, and ultimately, help you to do a much better job as a result as your team will trust you more.
Aside from this, allow your manager to provide you with regular feedback by keeping an open line of communication that will help to ensure you’re on the right track throughout your probationary period. You might sometimes feel like your manager should be the one to initiate catch-up meetings, but as they may be swamped with other tasks, don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from them or the wider team if you need it.