by Cormac Spencer, Consultant and Director with Link Personnel Services
Having nailed the interview, and accepted an offer to start your new job, you breathe a sigh of relief and relax. It’s all downhill from here isnt it? Not quite. While signing your new contract might be pleasing, your new job isn’t something guaranteed for life.
For a start, most jobs require a 6 month probation period to assess whether your work performance matches the impression you made at interview. For an employee this time is important in making sure the probation is a mere formality, and that the job is secured for however long it’s wanted.
Starting a new job provides the opportunity to institute yourself as a valuable member of the team. First impressions are important and you only get to make one. Good first impressions allow you to establish yourself as someone recognised as smart, motivated, and possessing the potential to progress. The chances are that you have never met most of the people you are working with, so you have a clean slate on which to make your mark.
For the first few weeks of a new job, co-workers will cut you some slack. They assume you don’t know how everything works, so use this time to ask questions. Bring a pad and write down answers to make sure it sinks in. A good tip is to hold queries until the end of the day as they are often answered in the normal course of things. This also stops you butting in with a question every 5 mins and coming across as though you aren’t grasping things. Familiarise yourself with new systems and work practices, ask pertinent questions, and look for training early on, because whereas as people are happy to help when you first join the company, if you are asking what your system login is after 2 months their patience may begin to wear thin!
It’s important to introduce yourself around in a new organisation. Get to know who does what, and who makes the decisions. Knowing the key players allows you to do your job better. Try to avoid getting sucked in to gossip about co-workers. Be polite to those who are spreading it, but take people as you find them. This is an opportunity to progress in a new company, so don’t make enemies when you don’t need to.
During the early days of a new job, try to have an input in meetings and during work. Come up with suggestions and insights that mark you out as someone who is sharp, confident and who knows their stuff. Be careful not to come across as a know it all, or to impose yourself too aggressively, and remember not to say things like “this is not how we used to do things in my old job” You aren’t in Kansas now! People are most interested in what works in the here and now and for the future.
Finally don’t rest on your laurels. It should be said, that probation periods are two way streets (allowing the company to assess you, but also allowing you to see if the job is really what you want), but once you decide you want the job, don’t let your performance drop after you are confirmed as a permanent employee. Keep contributing and mark yourself out as one to be watched. A new job is a new leaf. Be confident, make yourself invaluable and you might find opportunities present themselves for progression and salary increases.