3 Tips to Help You Land a Better First Job
As a new graduate, we know that it can be discouraging and stressful searching for that first job, especially if you are finding that certain entry level positions require three to five years of experience with a software program you’ve never even heard of.
We agree with your frustration—why are entry level positions even asking for three to five years of experience with anything?! Aren’t they supposed to be entry level?
So when you do finally get an offer, it can be tempting to jump on it while it’s hot, even if it isn’t your dream job, the paycheck is less than stellar, or worse, the job seems like a total nightmare.
But before you go down that rabbit hole, consider whether or not this opportunity will help you advance your career down a path you want or whether you are selling yourself short. Because settling can mean hurting your career.
Here’s some tips that will help you decide if this is the right career move for you or if you are just settling for anything.
Ask Yourself: Does the job match your career goals and work values?
We know that your dream job can seem like a lifetime away and you may not be exactly certain on what it looks like. But think about what your goals are. Do you have a specific job in mind that you eventually want to have, such as a researcher. Or do you like having flexibility in your work schedule? Do you want to work for a company that values the environment or social issues? Whatever it is you want out of a job, write it down.
Now think quality over quantity. Instead of applying to hundreds of jobs, apply to the few that help get you closer to those goals and your dream job. But be sure that you are also doing your research on the company to see if their culture matches with your own work values. Getting your dream job at a company you end up not liking can turn that dream job into a nightmare! (Pro Tip: use Workzinga to help you find companies that match your values!)
Dead Ends Suck
Ask Yourself: Is there opportunity for career growth?
Let’s face it, no one likes being stuck doing the same duties for too long. A great first job at a good company will help you develop your skills and advance within the company. One great way is a job that allows you to expand your responsibilities as time goes on.
The odds of getting opportunities to expand your responsibilities or have opportunities for growth increase if you choose to work for a smaller company or a startup. This allows you to wear multiple hats so you can see what fits best for you and gives you a broad base of experience to build on.
Ask Yourself: Will I be able to make more money?
Entry level salaries in most industries won’t be making you the big bucks, but we do understand you have college debt to start paying off. But don’t dismiss a job just because you won’t be making what you really desire right off the bat.
Know that negotiating for a bigger salary can be intimidating, but if you can make a solid case for why you deserve more, it doesn’t hurt to ask. In fact, it can show that you have initiative. But even if you don’t get the salary you want, see if there is opportunity to get a salary increase down the line. See if the company can readdress your salary three months down the road during a review.
Now on the opposite end of the spectrum, don’t take a job just because the pay is attractive. Money doesn’t really make us happy and being excited to show up each day is what keeps us motivated and doing our best work—which only helps you work toward your dream job!