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1/27/2014 10:45:52 AM

Sian’s top tips for surviving your probationary period

So you've got the job of your dreams - what next?

Sian Williams, Business Manager at our Bangor Branch, provides some words of wisdom on making the best impression during that crucial probationary period...

Job hunting can be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face in your career. The current climate means it can take months of applications and interviews before you receive that valuable job offer.

So pat yourself on the back because, by clinching that all important job offer, you’ve successfully navigated one massive hurdle in the jobs market.

However, just starting and keeping a new job presents a challenge – namely, surviving your probationary period. Don’t feel singled out if you have to complete a probationary period. It is standard practise for new entrants to undertake a ‘trial period’ and offers both employers and employees a degree of protection.

To ensure you complete your probationary period without a hitch it’s worth bearing a few common sense tips in mind. Here are Sian’s top tips for surviving your probationary period:

Set your alarm clock!

Being persistently late for work is a guaranteed way of failing to get beyond your probationary period. It gives your employer the impression you’re not committed to your new job and won’t win you any allies among your work colleagues either. Good timekeeping is akin to good manners and just as important.

Also, if you want to make a good impression, don’t bolt for the door as soon as your shift is over. Until you’ve safely negotiated your probationary period take the lead from your co-workers - even if it means leaving a few minutes late.

And crucially, if you attend a social event with your colleagues, make sure you clock in for work the next day – no matter how hungover you feel! Phoning in with the excuse of a ’24 hour tummy bug’ will fool no one, least of all your boss.

Mind your P’s and Q’s

During your probationary period you will be monitored on many aspects; from your ability to do the job to how well you fit in with your co-workers. As such, it’s important to build good working relationships, both with your colleagues and your boss. Be polite and friendly to everyone you encounter, regardless of whether they are the managing director or the tea lady.

The reason for this? In all likelihood your employer will have asked your colleagues to report back to gain a better picture of your progress. Bad reports won’t help your case when it comes to reviewing your probationary period.

Shoulder responsibility

Similarly, your employer will be monitoring your ability to take on responsibility. Most jobs include some form of responsibility; whether it’s for your team or your work station or tools. By accepting a job you agree to carry out these responsibilities to the best of your ability and without abusing your position or the privileges that come with it. With the knowledge you’re under the spotlight it’s important to show your employer you’re a responsible, hard-working employee.

Some common abuses of responsibility include:
  • Getting drunk while representing the company at social events;
  • Using your computer to surf the web or check social media during work time. 

Everyone makes mistakes

Making mistakes are all part of the learning process and, therefore, an unavoidable part of starting a new job. Your employer knows this and is unlikely to terminate your contract just because you’ve made a few errors – after all, we’re only human.

If a mistake does happen make sure you handle it correctly as you could jeopardise your future if you don’t handle the situation properly. Don’t bury your head in the sand; own up to a mistake as soon as possible to limit the damage. Inform your line manager immediately, apologise, and offer to help rectify the error.

There’s no such thing as a silly question

Whenever you start a new job, even if it’s a role you’ve done before, there is a lot to learn. Naturally, with learning comes questions. Asking colleagues or your line manager for help or advice will not only help you acquire new skills but will also build lasting workplace relationships.

We all love time off but…

Aside from any pre-existing commitments (such as a family holiday or a wedding) try to avoid taking time off during your probationary period. When accepting your new role it is courteous to inform your employer of any pre-booked commitments as soon as possible.

If you’re ill try your best to go to work – it shows your employer your commitment to the role and you can always leave early if you need to. If you’re genuinely too ill to work, call your line manager or HR department as soon as possible.

But don’t forget to enjoy yourself!

Whilst following these simple tips might help you survive your probationary period it’s equally important to relax and enjoy your new role. Constantly worrying over saying or doing the wrong thing can also send the wrong signals to your boss.

Instead, incorporate these tips into your daily work routine. Being a cheerful and positive employee will not only impress your boss, it will give you job security too.


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