Starting a new job can be both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. It's a chance to learn new things, meet new people, and grow your career. But it can also be challenging to figure out what you're supposed to do and how to fit in. If you're feeling nervous, cautious, or even overwhelmed, don't worry - you're not alone.
Maybe you’ve conducted the best interview of your life and secured that critical first position with our 7 interview tips. After the interview is over, you don’t have to keep selling yourself to your manager.
But you do have to spend your first days and weeks in a new job proving your ability to perform the job - demonstrating how you make the best of your time while you’re still new. Here’s our advice to someone starting a new job to help make the transition go smoothly, what makes the first few months different, and how to become a career success.
What Is a Probation Period in a Job?
Employment law is different in each province, as laid out by every provincial Employment Standards Board. You can check your provincial employment standards to see how these vary from province to province, since probation is treated differently depending on the province you’re working in.
Without getting too much into the legal complexities of employment law by province, a probation period is often part of the employment contract you sign when a company hires you. It’s a timeframe where employers give employees a chance to learn about the job and what it entails and demonstrate their capabilities. It’s also a time for you to make sure the job is the right fit for you, the employee - so you can think of a probation period as a ‘trial period.’
Probationary periods protect the time and money investment of both the employer and employee - by making that critical timeframe a trial period. A major purpose of probation is to make early employment termination easier for both the employee and the employer.
How to Complete a Successful Probation Period at a New Job
First impressions matter. Be proactive and ask questions. No one knows everything, so don't be afraid to ask your boss or coworkers for help or advice when you need it. This will show that you're willing to learn and want to be an asset to the team. It also shows you understand the need to perform in your role, the sooner the better. Employers love this attitude, and it reassures them that any time invested in training will pay off once you’ve settled in and become a permanent fixture in the organization.
Getting a new job can be hard, so naturally, you’ll want to pass your probation period and become a permanent employee. That means proving your suitability to your employer - as well as yourself! Be open to volunteering for new projects, committees, or anything that comes up. When starting a new position, your supervisor or manager doesn't want to overwhelm you with work. But if you find yourself with too much free time, let them know you have capacity to take on an additional assignment. It gets noticed!
While it can be challenging succeeding at anything new, you can make the best of a new job with your existing skills and positive attitude. But you might also worry that your current skillset and past successes are not enough to keep your position. There’s a name for that worry, and there are steps you can take to beat the feeling.
Beating Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is becoming better-known thanks to research and mainstream awareness efforts, especially in marginalized communities. Simply put, it’s the irrational belief that despite your existing skills, past performance, and great potential - you just don’t believe you deserve to be where you are now, in your first job, on a promising career path.
Initial research suggested that imposter syndrome disproportionately affected high-performing women in professional settings, and many young women could tell you the same thing. But the truth is, anyone can experience this psychological phenomenon regardless of age, gender, or job status.
Some of our students have reported similar sentiments to their instructors, especially in our Becoming a Master Student course. These new students are improving their job prospects through education, yet some they feel that they don’t belong. But they do! They’ve applied, passed their assessments, enrolled, and started their programs successfully.
It’s no different when you get that first career position. You’ve put your skillsets on a resume, highlighted them on a cover letter, and sold yourself in an interview; you deserve opportunities to succeed.
How to Improve Your People Skills at Your New Job
Be friendly and outgoing with your coworkers. Introduce yourself on your first day and make an effort to learn and remember names. Ask each of them about their weekend, their family, or what they do outside the workplace. Small talk is a great way to get to know people and build relationships.
If you have a question about your job or need help with something, don't be afraid to ask. Your coworkers will appreciate the fact that you're willing to ask for help and that you're not afraid to admit that you don't know everything. Building strong relationships with your coworkers will make your job a lot easier and more enjoyable.
Be open to feedback and constructive criticism - and remember that everyone makes mistakes sometimes. Many hiring managers are coming around to the idea that it’s better to hire someone personable with a lot of potential - somebody you wouldn’t mind working late on short notice with.
Communicate About What You're Working On
One of the best ways to improve your people skills at your new job is to communicate about what you’re working on. Let your colleagues know what you’re up to, and try discussing the best way forward. This will help you build better relationships with your colleagues and show that you’re a team player.
One way to improve your people skills at your new job is to smile more. People naturally respond positively to those who are smiling and happy, so it can help to put a smile on your face even when you're feeling stressed or discouraged. Faking it till you make it actually works, too. If you’re feeling nervous or overwhelmed, smiling no matter how tough things get can boost your morale. Smiling also shows a number of great traits like contentedness, friendliness, positive outlook, and appreciation for the people around the person smiling.
Develop Conversational Skills
Another way to improve your people skills is to show more engagement and interest in the people you work with. Make an effort to learn their passions and what they do outside of work. Ask them questions about their families, hobbies, and interests. Remember FORD: Family, Occupation (past and present), Recreation, and Dreams.
When you take an interest in the people around you, they will be more likely to take an interest in you, as well.
Make Friends with Coworkers
If you find common ground and conversational material, you might even become close friends with your coworkers!
Meeting people outside of your department is also a great way to expand your network and learn more about the company.
Get involved in company events and networking opportunities - especially early on, so you’re in the habit of striving to become an ambassador for the company.
It’s mostly up to you how you navigate your career and develop the skills you need to be successful - in those first few months and beyond.
One thing employers really watch for in the first few months (and every day from then on) is attitude. The above strategies are great ways to show a good attitude. But how do you improve your attitude if you’re trying to be a more positive person?
Gratitude is the key. If you’ve just joined a company, you were handpicked from a pool of applicants. If you really feel grateful and count your lucky stars that you got the job, it will show in your attitude.
If you're interested in showing gratitude,
you can always explore various ways to show employers how grateful you are. It's even
better to show gratitude to interviewers who haven't chosen a candidate yet;
you'll stand out from other interviewees who didn't!
Gratitude can sometimes be misunderstood. It's not always a reaction to good things that happen around you. It can also be a proactive habit that you forge to improve your training or learning experience, your career, and even your life in general.
Good attitude is part of a professional mindset, but it’s clear that gratitude is more than that when we think about the meaning of gratitude in your life & career. Gratitude is not just about adjusting your attitude, but improving your personal and professional life with a proactive gratitude practice.
Sundance College’s Career Advice to New Hires
The great news is that Sundance College students are already familiar with many of the above tips and tricks – and more. In service of our mission to “Support Student Success,” graduates are well-prepared for the new hire experience in their first career-track positions - before they graduate and start interviewing.
Our Career Services team works with students in all Diploma programs on the skillsets they need to secure and keep a new position in their chosen fields. These areas include resume and marketing materials preparation, practicing interview skills, job search techniques, as well as a work practicum experience.
All our programs include work practicum experiences. This means that our students graduate with experience in their chosen field. In addition, they graduate with a relevant employer reference. Many of our students actually get that critical first job through their practicum placement!
Congratulations on Your New Job!
With the above pieces of advice, you are well-positioned to take on that first position and navigate through your probation period. If you are a Sundance graduate, your learned knowledge and skills, practicum experience, positive attitude and, of course, your Diploma - demonstrate to an employer that you are not only a candidate that will ace the probation period - but one that will bring value to the company for years to come.
If you are not a Sundance College student, you can get that competitive edge by inquiring about our programs here. Stay positive and focus on your goals. And remember what you learned in Career Management courses. Thanks for reading, and best of luck in your new position!