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How to pass your probationary period with flying colours

So you got the job, but you’ve been told you need to pass your probationary period first — what does this mean?

Well, first of all, congratulations because the organisation obviously thought you were the best candidate for the job! Despite this, most permanent jobs will involve a probationary period. This is a chance for both you and your new employer to assess your suitability for the position as well as it being a period for you to make a smooth transition into the new role by being supported by your colleagues. 

There may also be some differences between your probationary contract and your permanent contract. For example, you might have a lower starting salary which may potentially be raised after the completion of your probationary period, your notice period may be lower and you may also have less annual leave at this stage. The length of probationary periods differs between jobs and organisations, but they usually last between three and six months. 

So how do you make a good impression and pass your probationary period?

Be punctual 

Be there and ready to work in plenty of time — plan your journey and set off in a good amount of time, taking into account possible delays on public transport or with traffic. It might be a good idea to do a practice run before your first day so you can get an idea of how long your daily commute may take.

If you know you have a problem with time-keeping, plan ahead: set your alarm a bit earlier than you need and organise your things the night before.

Be positive

Nobody likes someone who is constantly complaining about things or has a negative attitude — they just aren’t nice to be around. We all have those days when we aren’t feeling great or have woken up on the wrong side of the bed, but try not to let your mood affect the rest of the workplace by taking it out on colleagues. A positive working environment will be more motivating for you all.

Approach all of your work with enthusiasm — even the menial tasks. They have to be done and if they fall to you, accept them with good grace. Show you are keen, eager and willing to get stuck in and do them well to show your employer that you value your work, which will give them the confidence in you to progress to more challenging work.

Act professionally 

The way you speak and act on a night out with your mates is not the way your employer would expect you to behave in the workplace. You’ll need to reflect a positive image of yourself and the company in your behaviour, appearance and attitude — both offline and online.

Ditch the scuffed trainers and ripped jeans and dress to impress — find out the office dress code and stick to it. A professional appearance shows you are serious about the role.

Show you are eager to learn

You’re in a new environment, so you won’t be expected to know everything: in fact, your manager and colleagues will be expecting you to ask questions about the team or the company, so don’t be afraid to ask or worry about looking stupid. Being inquisitive shows you are interested in the role and that you want to learn more, so it will reflect well on you.

Be a team player

Sure, there will be times when you need to work on tasks independently but, ultimately, employers are looking to see that you fit in and work well with the team to reach the overarching goal. Clear and open communication with your colleagues is key, as well as offering each other support.

Get feedback

Feedback is crucial as it will let you know if you are meeting expectations or if there are any areas you could improve upon. Ask your manager for feedback on your work and advice on what you could do to progress. It’s better to find out earlier on if there are areas that you aren’t performing in so well, and advice may help you to think in new ways that you hadn’t previously considered.

Be flexible

It can be quite daunting starting in a new place and having to learn how to carry out work you have never done before, but don’t let this put you off from trying something new. Your employer will be impressed if you show you are adaptable and willing to learn.

Be proactive

Use your initiative and be open to opportunities. See if you can shadow other staff to find out about their work and about the different work streams in the company. Ask if you can go to meetings with your manager, or if there are any projects you could work on. Have a good idea? Share it! If you are have a valid contribution about something, your manager wants to know so don’t be scared to speak up.

Be sociable

Whilst it’s good to have quiet time to concentrate on your work, make sure you interact with your colleagues. Even if it’s just talking about their evening plans, this shows you have good interpersonal skills and are a good cultural fit for the environment. It doesn’t hurt to ask people about their work and projects they might be involved in to show you have an interest in the company — this could even pay off if opportunities arise later on!

Make sure to ask for frequent meetings with your manager. These will allow you to update them on your progress as well as raising any concerns you may have.

Deliver the best work you can

There is no point in doing all of these things if you’re not actually delivering the work you need to! Put all your effort into doing the best you can — make sure each piece of work you do, no matter how small, is of a high standard. If you are unsure or stuck, make sure you ask for help rather than struggling away in silence. The same goes for if you make a mistake — don’t just ignore it and hope nobody finds out. Take accountability and own up to any mistakes so you can go about resolving it.

However, it’s important not to lower your working standards or slacken your pace if you do pass the probationary period. If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well at all times.