GNcareers, from Gulf News

Don't just cruise through first months at a job

Don't just cruise through first months at a jobImage Credit: Supplied

There is sometimes a gap between how new employees value their experience and knowledge and how these are perceived by their employers. That is not to say employers purposely under-appreciate their workers.

In fact, when employers have high expectations, they are more likely to be waiting to see these expectations met in tangible actions rather than take them for granted.

Employers make a statement by hiring a particular candidate. It is a statement that this person's experience and skills either meet expectations for the job or have the potential to do so. Either way, the first few months are critical in validating this decision.

Employers will want to see some evidence that this decision was correct. This expectation makes any slacking during the probation period — whether it's formally defined or not — detrimental to your image and even the chance of keeping the job.

What to do? Continue to validate the employer's decision for many months until you establish yourself as the right fit. This effort means that you don't have high exceptions.

For example, if you are going through a tough period personally while holding a job for several years, a long-term supervisor may look the other way when it comes to any temporary deterioration in performance. Don't expect the same in your first six months at a new job.

People may often be misled by the empathy of new supervisors for personal circumstances. Even when these feelings are genuine, an early struggle in a job can hardly be seen positively and can cause long-term damage if not rectified quickly.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when taking on a new job:

* You are just starting

You may be done with the interviewing process and the paperwork, got your own desk and key card, etc. But you are just starting at the job and the probation period. This is the real world with real testing happening.

All eyes are always on a new person. The supervisors will be looking to evaluate how you are performing as they also have to answer to higher management, and your coworkers will be curious — if not motivated by office politics — to see how the new kid on the floor is doing.

The first few months are also critical to setting the tone and expectations regarding your potential. If you appear to be someone who gets away with the bare minimum, struggles to meet expectations and is unable to rise to the requirements, you may be trapped into lower expectations. Conversely, someone who hits the ground running, meets expectation and shows eagerness and ability to learn can be seen as a successful hire poised for growth.

* Do first, demand later

You are done with negotiating the contract, compensation, benefits, etc. Now is the time to demonstrate to the employer what you can do for the company. Until your probation period is over, don't bring up demands for additional perks, money or title — even when you receive stellar feedback about your performance.

Timing is everything when it comes to negotiation. If you jump into asking for more too soon — and that is defined as before the employer has seen his money's worth from the hiring — you will risk not only an instant ''No'' but also getting the employer puzzled about your true interest in the job.

Demonstrate your abilities first. Work hard and provide actual benefit and true potential. When the time is right, your value probably won't need an advocate. And if you feel that it does, then you will have a good argument to bring to your employer based on facts rather than promises.

* Heard not seen

Past employers may be aware of your abilities and probably they have communicated these during reference checks to the new employer. But face it — a new employer may still will want to see actual steps that confirm these reviews. While you may build on past successes if you stay with the same employer, when you have a fresh start, you need to have a couple of new success points that define who you are.

In addition, remember, many employers get tired quickly of hearing about how great the past jobs were. Make the move quickly and demonstrate your true value rather than just talking about it.

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Source: Rania Oteify, Special to

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor