For some, the first three months of a new job can go by in a flash. For others, it can feel like a long test they must pass before being deemed worthy of full perks and benefits.
It’s true, the point of a probationary period is to give employers time to assess a new employee's performance and suitability to the role. An average probationary period lasts for 3 months from the day the employee begins. Once completed, certain benefits become available to them, and being let go becomes much more difficult.
However, what you and the majority of other new employees may not realize is that there are hidden perks to being in the probationary period.
1. It offers you a chance to understand the company.
Reading the job description or hearing about the position from the employer during the interview will never fully prepare you for what it will truly be like on the job. The only way to gain this information is to experience it first-hand. Three months is generally enough time to realize if the position and/or company is a good fit for you. Therefore, a major perk of being the probationary period is getting the opportunity to try out the job before you are officially locked into it. You can also use this time to meet your co-workers and hear their opinions about the position and company. Inside information can be very useful because you may learn things that only someone who has or is working in a similar role as you would know. If after you have actually experienced the job and spoke to co-workers you realized that the job isn’t right for you, the freedom of the probationary period allows for an easy out without a substantial amount of time wasted or mountains of paperwork to fill out.
2. It provides a guaranteed opportunity to negotiate pay.
Some negotiations aren’t won in the hiring stage of employment. Some negotiations come later, once the employer has had a chance to see what kind of work you can do. Therefore, the end of the probationary period can mark an official time for re-negotiation. If you didn’t get the pay you wanted or think you deserved in the initial contract negotiation, then use the three-month probationary period to prove to the employer why you do deserve what you originally asked for. When the probationary period ends, a final negotiation solidifies the employee’s permanent job contract and in turn, pay usually increases. When this discussion happens, you will be able to use the last three months as evidence in your argument for the pay you think you deserve. Bringing up negotiations for a raise can be difficult and can often feel awkward once you are officially hired. Therefore, take advantage of this rare occasion where a pay raise discussion is not only expected but encouraged.
3. It allows for honest feedback from both sides.
Feedback can be very helpful when it comes to improving your professional skills and your relationship with your employer. However, if the feedback process is spontaneous and not scheduled then it can be very nerve-wracking because we often don’t know when feedback is coming, nor are we prepared to respond. A probationary period offers the perfect solution. It offers a set date for completion, in which you know when feedback will be coming, allowing you time to prepare. You can also prepare feedback of your own for the employer, as this is a two-way street. Besides being prepared, the probationary period also offers the unique opportunity to be completely honest with your feedback. If you have decided the position is not for you, your feedback should reflect why and how they might improve in certain areas. If you decided to stay, you and the employer can and should provide particularly honest feedback, as this is the time to fix any major issues that may have presented themselves during the first 3 months of employment.
Written by: MacKenzie Verhelst, BAPsych, CVRP-TSA
MacKenzie Verhelst is a Vocational Rehabilitation Consultant for Creative Therapy Consultants. MacKenzie is a Certified Vocational Rehabilitation Professional (CVRP) with Transferrable Skill Analysis (TSA) certification and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from McGill University. She demonstrates expertise in vocational assessment, resume/cover letter development, interview preparation, active job search support, and job sustainment services. MacKenzie is passionate about helping others reach their utmost potential and advocates for finding joy in work. To learn more about Vocational Rehabilitation services, please visit click here.