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3 Simple Steps to Ace Your Probation Period

Posted on Feb 19, 2017 by Ulrich Schild

Congrats, you got the job! But here’s a bit of sobering news: jobs are never more insecure than they are in the first few weeks of employment. Here are three simple steps that will decrease your chances of losing your new job.

How cool?! … You aced every part of your job search. You sculpted your resume. You sent notes to former managers and mentors to politely ask for references. You navigated the personality test, and blitzed through the job interview. Then the call came. You got the job!

Congratulations again! Celebrate and be merry, for tomorrow you shall be scrambling to prevent your new position from dying a quick death. Let’s face this head-on: job security is a nice, shiny myth. No job, not even one secured through referral, is 100% secure. Shifts in international, national, state, or company politics, policies, economics, and management can lead to job termination and company restructuring.  …and this doesn’t even touch on your own performance. Scary, right? Don’t panic.

Not all is lost. Most business owners or managers will do everything they can to help you succeed. Why? Before you even step through the door for your first day of work, the company has already spent $2000 to $3500 to fill the position. And every day of training you receive in the next few weeks of your new position will increase the amount of money the company will lose if you’re let go.

Safeguard your job, starting on day one

Here’s the best advice I can give you: don’t be complacent.

Here are three steps that will decrease your chances of not making it through your probation period.

Step one: Show A+ attendance

The first few weeks on a new job are vital to demonstrate that you are trustworthy enough to perform your duties and to do your job. What does that mean? No slacking off and no slipping in ten, twenty or thirty minutes late. Be there on time or early every day. Don’t give in to the desire to laze around rather than perform your professional duties.

I’m not telling you not to take days off. You just need to monitor your short-term attendance. If you miss even two out of ten days in the first two weeks, your management team might begin to wonder how much they can really trust you.

And if you do need to take a sick day, always call in – don’t text and don’t email.

Step two: Always demonstrate you are willing to learn

Most jobs require that individuals observe, learn, and then perform new skills and tasks. You will be given a few weeks to get up to speed, but eventually the inability to perform all of the job requirements in a quick and competent manner could lead to termination.

Not picking things up as quickly as you hoped? Take another breath. Does this mean failure will never lead to a loss of a job? No. It means that while learning skills is vital, a mind open to learning is also valuable. Don’t be discouraged if you’re not the fastest learner. Often, managers will give individuals who are slower to learn a little more time, if they possess the right attitude about learning.

Step three: Stay on task

Staying on task is vital for the first few months of your tenure at a new company. During those first few months, you’re not yet working at high efficiency. That lack of efficiency means that every distracted moment damages the progress you should be making in your role.

Should you never be off-task at work? It’s not all or nothing. Just remember: only take an unscheduled break after large chunks of productivity or once you realise your inability to focus. If you take an additional unscheduled break, try to ensure that the period following that break is productive. Breaks should be followed by rejuvenation, not continued distraction. Hint: Avoid the rabbit holes of Facebook, Instagram and so on…

Perhaps equally as important as the three steps noted above is not to forget about the importance of cultural fit.  In those first few weeks and months, don’t stand out for all the wrong reasons.  Remember that fitting in with the culture of the company can be a vital part of making it through your probation period.

Finding a job is only the first step. True success comes when you become a seasoned employee who contributes to the overall success of the company. There are a variety of actions and attitudes that could lead to job termination. It’s your job to make the case for keeping you on staff.

And, if you end up losing your job for reasons out of your control, start again, it’s not your fault and remember to hunt wisely!


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