Let's face it, society has big expectations for you when you graduate from college. Namely, those around you expect you to go off and get a job and embark on a fruitful career until it's time to retire. As such, you may feel as though you have no leverage when it comes to your job hunt and you might think you have to take the first offer you receive. But, that's not true at all.
There are a few things you should know as you navigate the job world right out of school. With the right knowledge and strategies in mind, you'll figure out the best course for you, even if it's not the first offer you get.
1. Figure out what you want before you go in.
You can't say "yes" or "no" to a job offer unless you're steadfast in what you expect from your first employer. Everyone's list of must-haves will be different, of course, though many first-timers seek similar things.
For instance, a new employee might want to ensure they have a varied list of responsibilities, the opportunity to learn new skills or programs and the chance to grow and move up within the company.
On top of that, you should always delineate your ideal salary, benefits, and job location, no matter if you're a first-time worker or a seasoned industry veteran, these factors will have an impact on your quality of life, so they're just as important as the job itself.
2. Gauge your initial intrigue on all of your offers.
When you read a job's description, you typically get a list of tasks for which you'll be responsible, as well as a summary of the company's mission and ideals. As you skim, you'll feel whether your interest is piqued or not and it's important to have that feeling of intrigue as you take on your first job.
Yes, it's true that you probably won't land your dream role right out of the gate, but you also shouldn't force yourself into a role that doesn't suit you just to have a job. If you're already disinterested, imagine how you'll feel a year from now.
3. Factor in financial benefits on top of everything else.
We already touched on the importance of a job's salary in your decision-making process but your bottom line might include more than just your biweekly paycheck.
Plenty of companies offer bonuses like 401K savings plans and stock options to help build your savings over time. In terms of the latter, the possibility of investing in your employer is mutually beneficial. You diversify your portfolio and potentially earn dividends, while the company receives the financing it needs to grow and expand. This type of program is a factor that could sway you to take a job with a salary that, at first, seems standard.
4. Learn about training opportunities.
Professional development is huge for employees, especially those in the early stages of their careers. As such, you should figure out what, if any, training opportunities a company provides.
Sometimes, they'll pay for continuing education, which is ideal if you want to pursue a masters or another degree. Others organize on-the-job training, such as seminars and conferences, which will also help you grow and improve in your career.
5. Get to know your potential boss.
Your future boss will make or break your first job. The right person will guide you through the early stages of your career and help you improve your skills and standing for future promotions, raises and career changes. So, ask questions during or after your interview to find out their management style, how they give feedback and what they expect of their team members.
If you have the opportunity, ask their current team members, too, to ensure you know what you're signing up for before accepting the offer.
6. Make sure you align with the company's mission.
For millennials, a job is more than just a chance to earn money, it's about serving a purpose and chasing a company's mission. As such, you need to find out your potential employer's values and figure out if they align with yours.
Even if a business works for a profit, they should explain how their work serves the greater good. If you care about what they do, you'll be more engaged as an employee, which will make your first job experience a much more pleasant and rewarding one.
7. Make sure you'll be comfortable in the work environment.
Is the office dead silent throughout the day? Do people work in cubicles or at obstruction-free tables? How often does the team go to Happy Hour?
As a young professional, such questions will be important to you in your decision-making process — you want to make sure you'll be comfortable in your new workspace. If you can, take a tour of the office before committing to an offer so you can get a taste of the environment.
8. Think about how your future and the company's future align.
Finally, you should consider the longevity of the job offer. Will you work for a business that has the potential for future growth or is it a shrinking industry? Obviously, you can't ask the hiring manager this, you'll need to do some industry research to see if your first job will have legs or not.
Even if you're going to work for a company that might not last forever, you can still derive transferable skills from a job with them. Avoid picking something too specialized that could leave you in the lurch if there isn't much of a future in the overarching industry.