Hi guys,

I this message finds you well.

I'm in a bit of a situation and would really value some advice from people more experienced than I am in the workplace.

I took a job as a research assistant in an NGO, primarily researching and writing articles for their website. My probation period expires on 30th November and I don't think I'm going to pass probation. The question is whether I jump or whether I should wait to be pushed.

I haven't really got off the ground in this job since I started 3 months ago. I realised researching and critiquing isn't my strength and I think that the standard that I can get to will be good, but not outstanding, which is what is really required of someone in this role. Although I have improved (and told as much), it isn't up to the level needed. I came in to this job under some assumptions that were dispelled quite quickly.

Two weeks ago I got told that I had a month to improve and turn things around, as I wasn't performing to the level that they wanted in the time frame that they need. Two weeks in, I'm doing well some days but not on others and I'm getting the impression that the writing is on the wall. My trial period is nearly over and I don't know what to do.

The job market is tough and I don't want to make a rash decision.

I'd be extremely grateful for any advice you could give me.

Best wishes

asteriskrntt1's picture

Show them a plan on how you are working to get up to speed.  Sounds like you are really early in your career.  I wouldn't worry about being fired.  If they choose not to retain you, you will be in the same spot as being fired, which is without a job.  You won't be the first person to be unretained or fired. 

avais's picture

Thank you for the reply :)

The thing is, I heard Mark's rule stating that you should be in control of the manner of your departure - and not being retained (i.e. fired) does not put the control in my hands. What I'm worried about is how not being retained would look and the damage it might do to my reputation in this field.

I am early-ish in my career. This is my 2nd job. I worked in administration for a year and a half after graduating before moving here.

refbruce's picture

Yes, show them your plan.  And yes, make sure your CMD and at least one resume are up-to-date.  And that you've done all the layoff inoculation stuff Mark & Mike have spoken about.  And I would also be actively looking for a job in off-hours.  If you don't get let go, then you've worked through some hard stuff, and that's good.  If you do get let go, then you're two weeks further along on the job search.  

avais's picture

Hi everyone,

I had my review last week and the decision was made that I did not pass the probation period... I now have a month to find another job. It didn't really hit me last week but now I have a sinking feeling just thinking about job hunting.

bug_girl's picture

Hi Avais. That's a really hard thing to go through, especially at this time of year!

You now know some skills you *aren't* strong at, and that you need to develop--what skills and strengths can you identify that you do well
Can you focus on those in things you're applying for?
Do you have friends that can put you on the fast track for something where they work?
Is there something available in the NGO that is more aligned with your current skills that you can transfer to?

Sorry to fire questions at you, but if you need a new job in a month, you're going to have to get busy.

Also, make sure that you leave as graciously as possible, and set things up so the next person can step into the position easily.
I'm sure it will be a bit awkward, but you never know when those connections will come in useful in the future! 
It's like breaking up--you want your ex-girlfriend to really miss you and regret the decision to dump you when you're gone :p

Edited to add: I was curious, and looked up your profile. You have some amazing experiences/skills! This might be time to work on that project management goal?

PM me if you want help looking for some non-profit jobs--I can make some suggestions. The best connections are the ones I mentioned above, though, where you have a connection.

NickA's picture

Bug-girl is right (which is hardly unusual).

Bad things can happen to you, and you can still have a successful career afterwards.  I've been fired more than once, I've burned bridges, done most of the things that Mike and Mark say not to do, and learned about the consequences of doing those regrettable things in a far more personal and powerful way than I wanted to.

Why do we fall?  So that we can learn to pick ourselves up again.  I've become a master of picking myself back up again, and it's an extremely useful skill.  And today, I'm making more money than most people will ever earn, and in the not-too-distant future, there will be managers reporting to me.

You've fallen.  That hurts.  It sucks.  And when you're ready, pick yourself up again, learn from the experience, and get moving again.  If you challenge yourself, then sooner or later you will fall again.  And when that happens, you stop for a while, acknowledge the pain, then decide if the pain is in charge, or if something else is in charge.

Mark's picture

My answer to the first question is always to step up your game at work, and ALSO get your ducks in a row for a job change.

Avais, if you'll contact wendii by private message on the boards, she will arrange for you to get our interviewing series at no charge.

Merry Christmas all,


avais's picture

Hi guys,

First of all, forgive me for the late reply to your messages. They're incredibly supportive and helpful and I appreciate that very much. God bless you.

Since my last post, I've been getting my CV updated (keeping a list of weekly achievements and a master document of my experience really helped). I'm still at my workplace as they're only going to set a date for me to leave once they've found someone, which they're in the process of doing. There may be a possibility of transitioning in to another role at the same company - as a volunteer coordinator, which I'm also going after. My CEO has said that he prefers 'transition rather than exit' but it does depend on whether the trustees of the company support such a role to open or not.

I've also approached some people in my somewhat small network - one of which is helping me put together a proposal for creating a job as campaigns officer/community outreach worker for myself and pitching that to community organisations that I know very well. There's a distinct shortage of media/politics-savy British Muslim organisations and with my experience, I can help them up their game and develop relationships between them and local politicians, media representatives and the wider community.

Bug Girl, thank you for your suggestions. This job has helped me to identify what I do well and what I don't - something I'm putting to use for future jobs. I will take you up on your offer of help in looking for non-profit jobs if it's still available. I've been looking around for jobs but they're scarce given the economic climate in Britain at the moment.

Mark, thank you so much for the offer of the interviewing series. I actually bought it some time back and it's been most helpful. I'll continue to use it in my job hunt.

The plan ahead for me is:

1) Make my proposal to create a role for myself as an outreach worker for local Muslim organisations.

2) Continue to look and apply for jobs involving training, mentoring, customer service - very people-focused jobs.

3) In the long term, I'm looking at becoming a teacher so I will be pursuing that avenue with a view to start in September this year, if possible. I've secured some work experience at a local high school and I'm just waiting for my clearance to come through before taking that up and making my application.

bug_girl's picture

Unfortunately, I mostly know the US nonprofit scene. We do have several Brits that comment here, and perhaps they can offer some suggestions.

One spot to use for researching potential employers is do have quite a few international groups.

I did a quick search for organizations in the UK, and got 1039 results!  You can usually get names and emails from groups with profiles on, or message them directly.  idealist is free, but you have to create a login to see detailed data.

Here in the US you can use to identify charities and non-profits--and because they publish tax records, you can also find the names of people to contact for some of the smaller groups :)  Not sure if they include overseas based non-profits.  They don't make it obvious, but if you create an account, you can get nearly all their info for free.

Hang in there! Sounds like you're already working the internal transfer angle--good job!