Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

10 No-Nonsense Tips For Passing Your Probation Period

By James Ball | Sep 30, 2015 | Candidate Tips

StatisticsMan from Supernatural saying I'm watching you show that almost one in five new employees fail their probation period.

The truth is; you are in the danger zone, you will be scrutinised and (honestly, no bullsh#t) it is easier to get rid of you.

So how can you ensure that you pass your probation?

You can’t. Sometimes, jobs just don’t work out.

You can give yourself a fighting chance with these 10 no-nonsense tips though.

1. Work harder

homer simpson twiddling his thumbsOften, when you start a new job, you actually don’t have that much to do.

Training, inductions and introductions take priority and it can take a few weeks to get properly stuck in.

So, this is the perfect time to show off, be proactive and volunteer to take on other tasks and work not necessarily in your remit OR to improve upon the systems already in place.

Recruiter Pro Tip.

Unless you’re already a workaholic and therefore can’t really give any more, I’d advise you to work just that little bit harder than your job role actually requires.

Do an extra hour here and there, just to show that you’re willing to impress and go the extra mile.

Once you’ve settled in, passed your probation period and know the way things work, you’ll be faster anyway, so you can give up the overtime then, if you wish.

If you’re ever sat twiddling your thumbs during your probation period, alarm bells should ring.

What should you be doing? What can you be doing?

2. Don’t overstep the mark

Young confident woman in red cape and maskThere is a HUGE difference between becoming the ‘outrageously proactive newbie’ and the ‘outrageously annoying know-it-all’ who thinks they can do everyone else’s job.

And if you become the latter, you’ve just obliterated your chances at survival.

Believe me, I’ve been there – (read my story here). The staff will hate you.

Recruiter Pro Tip.

Why the hell should you care what other staff think of you?

Firstly, it’d be a pretty sad life if you worked with a bunch of colleagues who didn’t like you.

Secondly, if the boss doesn’t think you can play nice, you’re as good as gone.

In fact,”personality clashes scupper career chances for at least one in 10 new hires” according to CIPD.

So, yes work hard, but just watch out who you’re bulldozing on your way.

3. Look your best

Beauty is on the inside. I agree.

But however moralistic this world view might be, it isn’t an excuse to turn up at work looking bedraggled.

man with scruffy jumper saying Slacker on itRecruiter Pro Tip.

Firstly, make sure your personal hygiene is in tip-top shape; bad body odour is one of the most-hated office habits.

Secondly, dress to impress; if the uniform is ‘smart office wear’ a suit, tie and plain shirt will go down a treat; just because Sarah from Accounting is in flip-flops and Jon ‘forgot’ his tie this morning, doesn’t mean you should follow the trend!

I’d opt for an outfit that’s just a little bit smarter than other people’s; you’re still making a good first impression, after all.

People will judge you on your appearance. I’m not saying it’s right. It just is.

4. Don’t be a bitch

bitch clique laughing and evilling at othersWe’ve all worked with terrible colleagues and ended up ranting to our family and friends about them.

Don’t bring it into the office.

If it’s your new colleagues attempting to bring you down to a level of bitch cliques and complaining, don’t get involved.

As the newbie, it’s bound to backfire and you’ll end up coming across as a troublemaker.

Your new boss won’t be impressed and will have to seriously consider whether you’re work the hassle.

5. Pin back your lugholes

woman pulling her ears out

marcolm at at

Are you the type of person who likes to shut off and get in the zone at work, to get stuff done? Don’t.

During your probation period, you need to start building awareness of your surroundings, your colleagues, your boss, the processes and  the written/unwritten rules of the company.

It’s all well and good getting your job done… but you also don’t want to piss people off by flouting the “brew rules,” recycling systems and general day-to-day things!

These may seem like simple, irrelevant things, but keeping on good terms with the entire office is the key to making a great impression with your boss.

Give yourself some time to figure out how things work, before you start shutting yourself off.

6. Show your social side

minions hugging each otherYou do need to try and bond with your peers in some way.

I know it’s hard. Especially when you’re shy and on first glance they seem like some sort of monstrous bunch.

(I’m sure they’re not).

Invite them for lunch (if they haven’t invited you) ally yourself with a group of likeminded people (probably on your team) and go out for any events that crop up.

(But don’t drink too much!)

Check out this article for unconfident people who want to look confident, for some helpful tips!

7. Smile (but not too much)

big cheesy grin on a dogIf, like me suffer with resting-bitch-face, then this tip is for you. SMILE!

But not too much. Too much is creepy.

If you look miserable all the time, people will think you’re miserable unfortunately.

Practice in the mirror and make a real effort during your probation period to keep that frown upside down.

(Naturally smiley people already have this down to an art).

8. Don’t leave earlier than everyone else

Business meeting viewed through illuminated window of office block at nightStaff rarely stick to their allotted hours these days and 9-5 seems like a thing of the past!

Unfortunately, it’s a good idea to stick around until your colleagues start to leave (within reason of course).

I know, it’s not fair… (especially when you’ve finished your work like a good employee).

No, you’re not going to get sacked if you leave on time.

But staying will show that you’ve got a great “we’re in this as a team” attitude which everyone will appreciate.

Of course if your boss insists you go home, then that’s a different story.

9. Don’t Be Late

penguin tottering because he's lateThis MUST seem pretty obvious…

Yet still 38% of people fail their probation for bad timekeeping.

I know, public transport can absolutely suck, I’ve been there… but it’s just no excuse.

Leave earlier if you have to!

Heads-up; you probably shouldn’t call in sick a lot either; 50% of probation failures were down to absence.

10. Don’t sabotage yourself

Funny office worker in life vest and scuba diver gear at the office. Combines vacation and work.Some people just seem to push and push during their probation period and I’ve never understood why.

Like some sort of career-sabotage, they’ll do weird and wonderful things bound to get them sacked.

The problem is, whilst they may be more than happy to piss everyone off in the office, get sacked and move elsewhere, they always forget how this behaviour will affect them in the future.

You never know when you’ll need a reference (or other help) from a past employer, so always be professional.

Try not to make it onto our list of the worst hires in history – please!

The truth is…

No plan is foolproof and your new job just might not work out.

Perhaps the role isn’t what you thought it would be? Maybe you simply don’t get on with the other staff or your boss’s management style isn’t quite right for you?

The probation period isn’t just for your employer… it’s there for you too, so you can decide whether the opportunity is actually right for you.

There’s no shame in leaving.

If you think you need a new career and would like more advice on job seeking, sign up to this blog to receive weekly updates with everything you need to know.

Good luck.

- James Ball

James Ball

James is the founder and owner of Coburg Banks and a recruitment expert from Sutton Coldfield in the UK.  He regularly advises companies on how to improve and get the maximum ROI from their recruitment processes.

> More blog posts by James Ball

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