Securing your job

Nailing your dream job is never enough. Once you get your foot in the door, you still need to pass your probation period. Lynda Aurora advises and guides you on these pages every second week

Now you have the job - what do you do next, other than think, "I'm scared! Can I really do the job?" Whether they are moving from one job to the next or have been between jobs for some time, most people are nervous and apprehensive in this situation.

No matter how much due diligence you do, there are sometimes surprises. A friend was recommended to a company and had several meetings about the position and his expectations but, within a week of joining, knew that he did not want to work there, as there was a discrepancy between what had been "sold" to him and the corporate reality. In such instances, accept that these events can happen and move on.

Once you are on the job, how can you pass your probation period?

* Make sure you have a clear job description. You will be surprised how many people in senior positions in major companies do not have one. This covers your key duties and responsibilities.

* Make sure you understand and appreciate your primary and secondary responsibilities - what is most and not so important. Do not assume you know - check and confirm with your boss.

* Ask questions and get clarification about procedures, etc. Take notes so that you can refer to them when you need to undertake and complete tasks.

* Know what standard your work must be. In some roles, 100 percent accuracy is required, while others demand speed of completion.

* Know your deadlines and expect the tasks to take you longer than you think. Murphy's Law is that "what can go wrong will go wrong": the computer may crash or your colleague fall sick. Do what you must to complete your work well before deadline, so you can calmly review it and get it reviewed by your boss before it is finalised.

* Ask for feedback. At the completion of your probationary period, you do not want any surprises. You may think you are doing a great job and then get negative feedback. Be proactive and get feedback on each piece of work you complete. This is also a great booster to your self-esteem.

* Get a copy of the performance appraisal form. I am often surprised that it is difficult for people to get this from Human Resources. There is no point working away, thinking that you are doing a great job, to be surprised at performance appraisal time by unknown performance measures.

* Assume that your organisation has internal politics. During the first few months, be careful about what you say and how you behave, because the real power in the department may not be where you think it is. You are new and everyone will be noting what you say and do, assessing you and forming opinions about you - so behave carefully and think before you speak.

Know what you are meant to do, understand properly how to do it, complete it well before the deadline, know that every move and word is being assessed by everyone, get feedback and know how your performance will be appraised. Finally, good luck!

Lynda Aurora FCCA ACA CPA MBA MA-HRM PCC is a career coach, partnering with people who want to reassess their career options, get strategies to improve their work performance and employability or are in career transition. She is Asia's first and only Professional Certified Coach Member of the International Coach Federation.

Taken from Career Times 31 October 2003
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