Possibly the worst headline ever written, but I think you will get my jist.

When you start your new job as a graphic designer, web designer or any job in the creative sector, you will usually be on a trial period or sometimes called a probation period. This sounds all very judgmental, but it is fairly standard in every industry.

The length of the trail period varies, from three months to six months, and even then the employer can extend this if they like. Employers do have to tell you you are on trail and this is stated in your employment contract.

Anyway, this isn't an article about your legal rights or the right of employers, it's about you making sure in those early days, you focus on things and get them right. Some of these things you might not have considered, but bosses will.

So setting aside your day to day work - what you are actually employed to do - below are a few things to keep in mind.


Just don't be late. Not even if there is a tube strike, of the traffic is bad, be on time. Allow enough time so that you arrive early. Have a coffee or whatever, if you are really early. Don't hang around until one minute before you are meant to start work and then stroll in. If your start time is 9am, make sure you are working at 9am, not heating up your porridge.

At the end of the day, finish the task in hand if possible. Obviously if you are working on a job that will take days, then you won't be able to do that.

Every boss will spot a 'clock watcher', the people that pack up at 5.25pm, wait until home time and shoot off. Nobody will expect you to work late every day, but the creative industry is not like clocking in at a factory.

Calling in sick

Sickly employees set off alarm bells. Of course if you are sick and you can't work then that is fair enough. An employer will get nervous when employees ring in sick at the drop of a hat. I've had some absolutely astonishing reasons for people not coming into work. These include; 'my trousers are wet', 'I've locked myself in my flat (ground floor)' and the best ever, 'I was saving a ladybird's life'. These are real.

Try to get in whenever you can. If you can't, then phone in every day, and tell your boss why. If at all possible, answer your mobile or email when you are in your sick bed. If someone needs to pick up your jobs, the team might need to ask you questions. Radio silence does not help.

A beer after work

Getting to know your colleagues is very important. A beer after work is one way of doing it and a jolly nice way at that. But, getting drunk, making a fool of yourself and potentially saying something you might regret will work against you like nobody's business.

If you have a beer or two, keep an eye on how much you have and moderate it. There is no easier way to put your foot in it than when you've had too many and get a little over confident.

Often clients join the team for a beer. Do you absolute best not to discuss their or any other client's project. You do not know what has gone on behind the scenes. What may seem innocuous could have serious ramifications.

Water cooler gossip

Talk to as many people in the office as you can. Get to know what they do, how they fit into the team and understand their roles. But don't listen or engage in gossip. Unfortunately office politics does exist. And perhaps someone who seems to be confiding in you about a 'certain person' in the office may not be as trust worthy as they might seem. Just don't get drawn in.

Office romance

You know this is wrong, right? Even if your eyes meet over the photocopier and he (or she) seriously floats your boat, keep that boat securely moored. If you are in a new job, the worst thing you can do is engage in a dalliance with a colleague. And for god's sake don't sleep with your boss or line manager. Or a client.

Social media

If you want to Tweet, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, do it on your own computer in your own time. Some companies will have a policy about this, but even if they don't, don't be that person who is forever on Facebook.

Social media in business is an accident waiting to happen. And you will be the victim.

The same goes for mobile phones and personal calls. Nobody expects you to cut yourself off from the outside world. But yakking away on the phone to your mates will not go unnoticed.

Keep your eyes and ears open

Certainly in the first three months of your new job, you need to listen to everything that goes on and pay attention to what happens. The team will be busy (or they should be) so they won't have time to explain everything to you. It is amazing what you can pick up by listening in taking a non-intrusive interest. Firstly you will get to learn a lot, secondly you will see how certain situations are handled. For instance when phoning a printer or a client.

When you do get asked to tackle a project, you may have heard or seen something that will help you achieve you goal in the way the agency wants you to.

Practices and process

Every agency has a way of doing certain things. From recording your time to filing and project management. Make sure you learn those processes and stick to the rules. It can be a bit overwhelming at fist, having to remember everything. Buy a note book and make yourself a check list, or even write yourself a manual on 'how to work at Bob's Big Agency'. The act of writing it down will help you remember, and you can refer back everyday until it becomes second nature.

This stuff is important. It is the grease that oils the agency wheels and greases the palms of the finance department.

Be ready for your review

Your contract will tell you when you can expect a review. This is usually with your line manager or boss. They will sit down with you and talk about your progress. They will highlight things that have gone well and things that have not gone well. You may get a written 'report', but if not, write down what has been said. These are the things over the next period, you will be assessed on. Address these issues. If you keep forgetting to back up, then set yourself an alarm or whatever works for you to ensure you don't forget anymore.

A review is also a chance for you to discuss issues you might have. If you feel, for instance, that your Photoshop skills are not up to speed, then tell your boss. They may offer you some training or ask a colleague to help you through some projects.

A new employee is an investment. We want you to succeed. We want you to improve and be the very best you can be. That way we get a return on our investment, and you get better and better.