Just landed your dream job? Congratulations! It’s an exciting time, but it can also bring an odd sense of apprehension due to the probation period. These days almost every role, at every level, will most likely include some kind of probationary period – typically three to six months in length depending on the company’s policy.
The probationary period should not be thought of as a time to ‘catch you out’. It’s just that initial period during which an employer can consider whether you’re able to effectively meet the expectations of the role and is an accepted (and legal) part of most employment awards in Australia. Likewise, it’s an important period for you to determine whether the company and role is right for you. Here’s some tips to help you navigate that period:
- Understand the probation period. Educate yourself about what success looks like. How long is the probation period? Will there be regular reviews and checks and if so, how many? Who do you report to, and will it be them or someone else who will conduct the review? How will your performance be measured? What are the implications if you don’t meet those performance expectations? When will you know that your job is safe?
- Know the role. If you don’t know exactly what requirements you need to be fulfilling you might find it hard to succeed. Work out exactly what is expected of you and create systems and checks to ensure everything gets done – in the timeframes and quality levels the company expects.
- Communicate. With your colleagues, managers and any other relevant people. This is especially the case if you don’t understand something but it’s also important just to understand how the company works and the general office policies and procedures.
- Understand the company policies and procedures. Every company, no matter how large or small will have certain policies and procedures that are in place. Hopefully you will go through some kind of induction process and receive information regarding any policies, procedures, compliance and/or legislative requirements. It’s your responsibility to make sure you understand these requirements and adhere to them.
- Understand the company culture. Take some time to work out how a company operates culture wise – this can be one of the biggest areas of failure to fit in for new candidates. Whilst every person brings their own values and unique approach to a role, depending on the environment the company operates in, company culture can change significantly from organisation to organisation. Understanding how your company works, and adapting your practices (even just slightly) to fit in is a good idea.
- Learn. Be a good student and take the time to learn from others. Ask questions and be appreciative of any help, advice and assistance that you receive. Don’t expect to know or understand everything straight away.
- Act quickly if you’re in trouble. Waiting until it’s too late if you become aware of an issue is a big mistake. Raise the problem early and admit your failing, so that it can be fixed before too much damage is done. Taking this approach shows employers that you have a good sense of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses and are happy to work to rectify them in times of crisis.
- Don’t abuse benefits. Be aware that someone might be paying particular attention to how you spend your time during those initial months. Arrive on time or a little early, and don’t try to sneak out early, don’t take long breaks or waste time on Facebook, surfing the net, chatting socially with colleagues, or doing anything that you shouldn’t be doing!
Use the probation period to learn everything you can about the company and the role to ensure you fulfil expectations, but also make sure that this is the right environment for you.
Are you currently seeking a new role? Are you worried about the probationary period or finding a role that suits both your skills and personality? If you would like assistance, please see our Career Counselling Services and our Job Search Coaching Services.