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It’s common for recent hires to be evaluated after a specific trial period during the early weeks and months of a new job. The time frame depends on the company, but nearly 92 per cent of Canadian CFOs responding to a Robert Half Finance & Accounting survey said new hires have less than six months to prove themselves.
So what can you do to shine during those first 6 months? Let's start by not making these five mistakes:
1. Being a know-it-all
Arriving at a new job with a superior attitude will cause you resentment up and down the organization. You may be a whiz at account reconciliation, but don’t set about to change things up before you’ve even learned key details about your new workplace and duties.
Pitching in with information and suggestions when appropriate can be welcome, but before sharing the full extent of your wisdom at a new job, you need to learn the ropes.
2. Not letting go of how things were done at last job
Closely related to the know-it-all is someone who arrives with the mantra: "This is how we did it at my last job." If your old job used an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system supplied by SAP, and your new firm uses an Oracle system, or vice versa, don’t go on and on about how much easier the former system was. Instead, focus on learning the new system. You may find your complaints have more to do with your lack of knowledge than the quality of the new tools at your disposal.
Sometimes bringing a new perspective from a former experience can be a plus in a new workplace, of course. Just be careful not to cross the line.
3. Taking on too much too soon
It’s natural to want to do well from the beginning when starting a new job, but that doesn’t mean getting ahead of yourself. If you’re an auditor, for example, you don’t have to learn all there is to know about the company’s internal controls on Day One. There’s no need to reach beyond what you can manage, from volunteering for too many projects to promising to finish something by an unrealistic deadline. Don’t let the desire to prove yourself end up proving instead that you overestimated how much you could do.
4. Isolating yourself
Beginning a new job, obviously, entails meeting and interacting with new people. Don’t just plop down at your desk and wait for the trial period to pass before you start reaching out to coworkers. If you do, you’ll be limiting yourself in ways that can affect not only your performance but also your ability to showcase your collaboration skills. Go beyond the orientation provided and reach out to new colleagues on your own.
5. Not asking questions
We’ve all heard the old maxim, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question,” but that doesn’t always make it easy to ask them. This can be especially true when you’re starting a new job. Don’t let a sense of awkwardness deter you from finding out what you need to know. You don’t need to interrupt a staff accountant’s high-intensity focus on the monthly close to find out where the pencils are kept, but don’t hesitate to ask key questions when the time is right.
Knowing what not to do helps you stay focused on what you should be doing, so use these tips to succeed at your new job — in the trial period and beyond.