Illustration: Watchara Thakaew,


You got your foot in the door andthat’s only the beginning. Don’t take for granted that the job is yours. You still need to get through probation.

Ms Jenny Chan, a recruiter with five years of experience, said: “The probation period tests a new employee’s suitability, job fit and quality of work.”

During probation, new employees have a chance to show their supervisor, colleagues and management see if they can fit into the company. Employees who play their cards right can even impress their new employers. Ms Chan said: “While it can be an understandably stressful time for new employees, the probation period provides great opportunity to shine and show your new employer how quickly you are able to adapt to the corporate structure and excelling at your tasks at hand.”


First impressions matter

It may sound cliched, but your first impression leaves a lasting mark on how your new colleagues view you.

Ms Chan said: “When you first enter your new office, everyone is sizing you up, trying to figure out who you are. Your words and actions have a huge impact on how they perceive you. This sets the tone for future interactions. So be very careful to avoid ruffling feathers on your first few days by making comments that can bemisinterpreted by your new colleagues.”


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Make an effort to introduce yourself to your colleagues. Making the first move to break the ice makes you appear personable and warm. Ms Chan said: “You want people to remember you in a positive way and extend help, should you encounter some problems the first few months in your job.”


Take notes and learn

Writing down pointers and instructions in your notebook does not end after you graduate from school. When you first enter a new company, Ms Chan shared that it can be an overwhelming experience even for seasoned workers.

Different companies have different protocols, systems and culture. As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. She advised asking your superiors to go through with you what daily processes you need to do to complete your tasks. Then write it down either on a small notebook or in convenient sticky notepads that you could paste near your workstation for easier reference.


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She added: “People tend to forget, especially when learning new tasks and processes. Avoid making the mistake of repeatedly asking for help on the same task you have asked before. This makes you look forgetful and incompetent to your colleagues.”


Get in with the culture

Keep your mind open and observe how things are done in your new organisation. She said: “Be receptive to change. Procedures, rules and processes vary in every organisation. Some protocols may seem outdated or unnecessary to you. But given your limited grasp on the organisation’s structure, avoid criticising the organisation’s system too early. This makes you appear stubborn and arrogant.”

Ms Chan advised new employees to save their opinions for proper avenues to address them at, such as during feedback or brainstorming session. She said: “It is always good to provide positive suggestions to improve a company’s system. Always learn about the rationale behind every process and how it has kept the organisation running smoothly before suggesting changes.

No man is an island

Take the time to understand the cliques in your new office and those you are working closely with. She advised new employees to go the distance to integrate him or herself into their social circles. She said: “Offer to join them for lunch, and make small talks at the pantry. The more people you reach out to, the easier your probation period will be. People are more keen to help you out in a jam if they have formed a bond with you.”


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While you are eager to gain their approval, it is easy to get caught up in their office politics. Ms Chan advised new employees to tread carefully when their colleagues are gossiping or behaving in an unfriendly manner to another colleague.

She said: “This could backfire in the long run. Always stay neutral and not get too involved in messy office politics. The corporate world is dynamic, and the person you offended today may grow to be your superior tomorrow. Be friendly and cordial as much as possible to ensure longevity in the company.”


Set achievable mid-term goals

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the new tasks you have to complete.

Ms Chan advised new employees to set structured, achievable goals to keep you grounded and feel accomplished. She said: “Set a timeline, and tasks you need to excel at. If your probation period is six months, aim to show your supervisor that you are able to independently execute key tasks within three months in your new job. Not only will it help to boost your skills, it also shows your supervisor that you have a sharp mind and good organisational skills. This will greatly impress your supervisor and put you in a positive light during your trial period.”

This article was first published in The Straits Times Classified.

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