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December 22, 2022

Living and working in Canada: How to make the most out of your probationary period

A probationary period can be a nerve-wracking experience. So naturally, you want to make the best impression, do your job well and secure your position for the long run. But it is also an excellent opportunity to evaluate if this is really the job for you. Here are some tips on making the most out of your probationary period and using it to assess whether or not this is where you want to be. 

Length of the probationary period

But first things first, how long should my probationary period be?

Depending on your province, this will vary, but here in Canada probationary period can range from 30 to 90 days and even up to 6 months; here's a list for your reference:

  1. The probationary period is three months in British Columbia, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec.
  2. Alberta, the North Western Territories, and Nunavut have a 90-day period which may vary from the former depending on the month you start employment.
  3. New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon set it at six months.
  4. Saskatchewan is the odd one out, placing it at 13 weeks.
  5. At a federal level, however, the probationary period is three months.

Setting clear goals 

The probationary period allows you and your employer to determine if this role fits you. To ensure that both parties are getting what they need out of it, set clear goals right at the beginning of your probationary period. This will help ensure that expectations are understood and agreed upon by everyone involved. It will also give you something concrete to work towards - and measure yourself against - throughout your probationary period. Knowing what's expected of you upfront will also help reduce any stress or anxiety associated with this new role in the early days, weeks, and months. 

Being proactive 

No one wants an employee who comes in, does their job and leaves without taking initiative or showing genuine interest in their work. Showing you are willing to go above and beyond during your probationary period will reflect positively on you and demonstrate your commitment to the company's success. Offer up ideas for improvement or suggest ways in which processes could be streamlined or made more efficient; these may even end up being implemented long after your probation has ended!  

Evaluating your fit

The probationary period isn't just about demonstrating what an asset you'll be for the company - it's also about evaluating if this is where you want to be long-term.

So while there may be times when there's too much pressure on you during this time frame, don't let that stop you from considering if this is where you wish to stay permanently. For example, take note of how comfortable (or uncomfortable) you feel during meetings with colleagues and supervisors; think about how often (if ever) opportunities arise for feedback regarding performance; consider whether or not there's room for learning and growth within the role; ask yourself if working here would result in personal fulfilment given its values and objectives…the list goes on!

Probation periods can seem daunting, but they don't have to be! With some proactive behaviour, setting clear goals upfront, and taking time to evaluate if this is where you want to stay permanently can help ensure that both parties get what they need out of it for it to become a successful relationship. No matter what happens at the end of your probationary period, remember that all experiences are learning experiences – so take away something positive from each one! Good luck!