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Can I save my job?

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Question: “After many years in the medical field, I suffered an injury that forced me to stop working with patients. I moved into an office job handling insurance claims. I was given three weeks of training and told that I would have time to “fit into the job comfortably.”  However, at the end of my 90-day probationary period, I received a terrible evaluation. This has never happened to me before. My supervisor apparently has documented all the times that I required assistance. I viewed this as learning, but she views it as an inability to do the work. I now have two weeks to improve or be fired. This seems unreasonable, but I like this job and want to keep it. What do you suggest?” — Afraid of Failing

Marie’s Answer: Patient care and claims processing require very different skills, so the first question is whether your natural abilities fit your current job. If your errors are simply part of the learning curve, then time will fix the problem. But if there’s a true skill mismatch, you may need to reconsider this career move.  

One immediate possibility is to request an official extension of your probationary period. That would increase your learning time without changing your employment status. As part of this request, propose a personal development plan. List areas where you need to improve and suggest appropriate learning strategies.  

You should also stress your enjoyment of the job and desire to succeed. Enthusiasm and a positive attitude may help to counterbalance your current skill deficit. But if this position doesn’t work out, don’t get discouraged. People who thrive in customer contact jobs often struggle with administrative tasks and vice versa.

To evaluate your own job security, take an Office Coach Quick Quiz:  How Secure Is Your Job?

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