I’m just about to enter my third month as a recruitment consultant and looking back, the time really has flown. When I stop to think about all the things I’ve learned it really is quite overwhelming, which is often reinforced by my colleagues and mentors telling me that ‘the early stages are the most crucial point in your career’. I agree completely, and even though the first couple of weeks have been a lot of hard work it’s really rewarding to look back and see how much progress I’ve made. I had a chat with a candidate of mine about her probationary period and how she was handling everything, and I thought this could be a good topic to write about seeing as I’m still carrying out my own. Of course with Queensland recently losing 14,000 jobs, quite a few people will have to start over in a new role, so from firsthand experience here are my top steps on how to make the most of your probation period.

1. Do your market research: Taking on a new role will always include learning. Always. Whether it be new systems, new procedures, or the culture of a new company; you will constantly be experiencing different people and different things. Rather than learning everything from scratch take the time out to look up the company website, check out their annual review and have a bit of a poke around on how that sector is going. Looking up your managers and teammates on LinkedIn can also be a good way to get a heads up on your new position. That way when you tackle the oncoming challenges you’re already well informed and appropriately prepared.

2. Be confident: A wise gentleman once told me ‘always act confident, because then people will think you’re confident and that will lead to you being confident’. Confidence to me indicates that a person is enthusiastic, has a strong belief in their abilities, and knows what they are talking about. On top of that, confident people present much better and I always tend to remember them due to their willingness and interest in what I have to say. Don’t get carried away and let your confidence turn into arrogance, but do keep your energy up, face challenges head on, and believe in yourself – you were hired for a reason, so someone out there has faith in you!

3. Watch and listen: Getting in there and doing things would have to be the number one way to start strong, learn new things and build your reputation, but never underestimate the value of watching and listening to your managers and more experienced co-workers. I found this really helped me to pick up the system, organize my desk and my files and how to go about everyday phone calls. The list doesn’t stop there, but just remember that your colleagues are a valuable source of information – half the time they are teaching you and they don’t even know it!

4. Take on as much as you can: While in your training stages, you probably won’t be as busy as your senior counterpart. So take that time to go just that little bit further in your responsibilities. Put a little more effort into your reports or notes, structure your day so you know exactly what to do, write out questions or areas you’ve struggled with to run past your manager. Start thoroughly and you’ll keep those good habits throughout your career.

5. Be versatile, and use your common sense: This is possibly the most common piece of advice I give my candidates when starting a new job. Assess the working environment and culture (and here is where your background research will come in handy!) and present yourself appropriately. Get to know people well, build relationships and just use your head. If your boss is a straight up workaholic and part time member of the fun police, it’s probably not the best idea to go into detail about how you got completely trashed on the weekend.

Well there you have it, my top recommendations. You may have more, you may use less, and that’s alright. The biggest thing is that you know what both you and your boss want to get out of those 3-6 months. So dive in, work hard and achieve those goals! I’ll keep you posted as to whether I pass my own probation. Here’s hoping!

Ela Baan – Consultant

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