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Probation Prowess: A Guide to Acing Your Trial Period

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Landing that job offer is a major win! After putting in the effort, being patient, and staying committed, it’s a smooth ride ahead, right?

Well, not quite: next you just need to pass your probation.

The word ‘probation’ can be a bit intimidating, especially for newcomers to the workforce. But fear not!

Instead of letting it dampen your spirits, think of your probation period as the perfect chance to showcase your skills. Here’s your guide to making the most of it.

What is a Probation Period?

Your probation period is a set amount of time when you just start a new role, usually between 3 to 6 months, where employers assess your suitability for a role before officially making you a permanent employee.

You can expect regular reviews with your manager throughout the probation period, where you will discuss your performance, goals and areas to improve if required.

This allows you and your manager to talk openly about how you’re feeling about the role, so at the end of probation, any decision made to either continue your employment, extend your probation period, or cease employment won’t come as a surprise and is generally mutually understood.

How a Probation Period Benefits YOU & Your Employer

To an employer, probation confirms whether or not a prospective employee is a reliable hire following the interview. It also reduces the risk of unfair dismissal claims based on performance.

Managers should flag any issues they see in performance with their employees during the probation period and give them a chance to improve with their guidance and support. If an employee continues underperforming and doesn’t demonstrate improvement efforts, the grounds to cease employment would be considered fair.

For employees, consider probation a ‘taster’ of the role and if it will be the right fit. If you love your role and want to stay with the company, a probation period is a fantastic opportunity to prove your capabilities and commitment and start your career on the right foot.

However, if you don’t feel right about the role, the beauty of a probation period is you can leave with shorter notice and at little risk of jeopardising future employment.

How to Pass Probation: Top Success Tips

With the benefits of probation to both employer and employee in mind, here are some top tips that will demonstrate your maturity and help you pass your probation period:

1. Be open to feedback.

Don’t confuse suggestions with criticism. An employer has likely put effort and resources into hiring you and wants to see you shine just as much as you do!

Showing you are willing to improve will say a lot about your character and commitment to the role, even if you haven’t ‘mastered’ everything by the end of probation.

Stay open to feedback as a chance to learn and grow, and be sure to ask questions as you learn the ropes to show you’re open to input from others.

2. Communicate and be honest.

An employment contract is a two-way agreement, so speak up if something doesn’t feel right.

Voicing any concerns is much better than not bringing them up and struggling, as not doing so could be mistaken as a lack of interest or drive.

3. Be accountable.

If you make mistakes, ensure you accept and own up to them. Trying to cover things up will make you look like you don’t care about the role or doing a good job.

It’s natural to need some time to learn the ins and outs of a new role, and employees will be much more accepting of you if you show up with accountability and willingness to learn from errors.

Follow up with actionable ways to avoid them next time.

4. Build a network.

Introduce yourself to your colleagues and learn about their roles. Start making contacts across the company, as a network can support you through your probation and beyond.

For example, sometimes new starters learn they love the company, but their role isn’t quite what they were hoping for. Getting in touch with departments such as HR or Entry Level Program teams can be crucial.

A company would rather retain employees by helping them move roles than lose them entirely, so it should be in their best interest to help you find a role that better matches your skills and career aspirations.

Probation Perfection is in Your Hands!

Think of probation as an exciting chance to learn, be open to experiences, and don’t hesitate to discuss your progress with your manager, even in addition to the official check-ins.

Taking probation seriously and keeping yourself accountable will set you up well for the rest of your career!


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