Searching for that auspicious first job after graduating is a daunting task. Even if you’ve considered and calculated every problem point in your professional journey (have all potential career paths lined up, networked, got work experience while at university, and researched the current job market), most fresh graduates seldom get exactly what they envisioned for their primary salaried role. That being said, it’s oft the strategy of newbie workers to seize the first offer that comes their way, seeing it as a stepping stone towards great things. If you don’t want to tarnish your perception of work with a poor first impression, hold out and consider these items before you sign your life away:
Your day-to-day duties
Entry level roles – for the most part – are repetitive, mundane, and limited. It is a shock for most graduates to be reduced to the level of tasks entry jobs demand, but is a vital one. Understanding that your first job will feel underwhelming is crucial, but that shouldn’t mean you accept a role regardless of your duties. Before signing that scroll, read and re-read your job description; make notes of what you like and, if you’re brave, let the hiring manager know if there are any additional roles you’d like to see included – i.e., if you’re a digital marketer, filling out and designing a newsletter.
Not all of us have the luxury of working close to home, but it’s something you should fight for if you’re concerned about wasting time and energy commuting. For graduates, location tends to be a transient state; most graduates live away from home with the aim of moving back in with their family after, while others float in a state of limbo preparing to move for a role they find. For both cases, it’s important to consider roles that make commuting as facile as possible. Research accommodation/living costs – different areas have different costs, even within the same city. Do you require a car to get to your office, or is there adequate public transport? Most companies have salaries that reflect the costs of living and working in their area, however, for entry level this may not be enough to comfortably live on.
Company type and size
There’s no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to company type and culture. Many graduates aspire to white-collar jobs in established, franchised companies, but forget the bountiful professional perks of working in a startup and SME. Each company type has pros and cons – it’s vital that you outline what you want out of a company before committing to any one type.
Leading on from company types and their respective perks, finding a company that appreciates and can further your professional and personal development is key. You want to avoid entering into a position that will treat you as a glorified intern where you complete remedial work day in day out (think HR administrator with no HR software). Make sure your employer has internal or external training regimes in mind, and that your role teaches you about the industry or position you wish to fulfil in future.
What benefits are available in your potential future company should be considered, particularly if there are benefits that accumulate as time goes on – i.e., pensions, or gratuity. What kind of health insurance are they offering (is there maternity insurance coverage?), are they quite tech-savvy (have they got cloud HR software rolling around) and are there opportunities throughout your careers to train, grow and, perhaps, change roles? While some companies may have less than appealing starter salaries, the rewards for staying with them and growing are numerous, so always consider their long-term potential.
The hours you will be expected to work vary massively from company to company. For individuals looking to balance their work/life schedule (Millennials and Centennials in particular) it’s important to double check on your hours and their flexibility. Does your office offer work from home alternatives? Will you be expected to complete overtime or handle shifts – and how will that impact your ability to get home (should you use public transport).