Choosing Your First Job

EASY MONEY>5 TIPS

Choosing Your First Job

You’re fresh out of college (or if you have a child who just graduated) and looking for your first job. Do you get the first offer that comes your way? Or take your sweet time until you find your dream job?

1. Find a match
Don’t think that “it’s just a job.” You’ll be wasting years (and increasing your misery) taking on whatever is available. Job site Monster.com says that to make a good career choice, you need “a clear understanding of yourself: skills, hopes, ambitions, personality, and limitations.” So assess what you’re good at and what you would like to do. Once you list down your options, you can quickly shortlist your job search. If you like teaching and coaching people, then areas like training and supervision are good choices.

2. Don’t aim for perfection
At the other extreme is declining opportunities left and right in search for your ideal job. Months pass by and you’re still unemployed and finding yourself. Phil Sheridan, UK managing director for global recruitment consultancy Robert Half, wrote in an article, “If you place too much focus on a single element of the offer and fail to grasp the big picture, you may pass up a promising opportunity.” So what can you compromise on? Things that have little to do with your skills and interests: a big starting salary, a swanky office, a fancy title, and a big-name firm.

3. Think opportunities first
At this stage of your career, experience matters more than money or title. CareerSpot.com gives this advice: “Most people look first to salary and make a hasty and poorly considered decision based only on this. While salary is important, of course, future employees should think about other factors.” So be ready to accept an entry-level salary and position, but only as long as the job offers opportunities for you to show your stuff, develop a variety of skills, widen your network, and move up the ladder.

4. Be open to smaller or newer companies
While working at a Fortune 500 company or a large local firm may look good on your resume, it’s not necessarily always the best career path for you. Often, a small company or even a startup can give you the kind of variety, flexibility, and creativity you find better suited for your style. But don’t work just for any company. Find one that is in a fast-growing industry or one that’s poised to be a big player. Imagine if you were a pioneer at the early years of the telecommunications or call center industry, you’d be a hotshot by now.

5. Check out The Boss
Work is not just tasks. It involves people. And your relationship with your first boss will determine if you will stay or go. As author Marcus Buckingham wrote, “People leave managers, not companies.” Find someone you think you can learn from. At the very least, look for a boss you can get along with. You’ll know if you hit it off during your interview. If he’s not interviewing you, arrange an opportunity to at least meet your future boss before accepting an offer. You may only get to really know him later but your gut feel is a good place to start.

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