For almost everyone, getting the very first job after graduation can seem a big challenge. With little to no practical experience, you may feel you’re in a weak position competing in a job market populated by all sorts of candidates whose varying numbers of work years make them seem more favourable.
This challenge often proves easier than initially expected, however. Many employers see benefits of hiring fresh graduates as interns or in entry positions, Not only do young, inexperienced new hires present a cheaper option, but they also are generally enthusiastic, open to training on employers’ systems and have the potential to develop loyalty to the employer. As a result, getting a job immediately after graduation can be quick if you pursue the right routes to the right employers.
As a first-time job-seeker, you should ensure that you’re tying up with an employer who has the infrastructure to provide training and support. Remember, having a solid start is essential to building a successful career, and it only can be accomplished through working for employers who see the potential in young graduates rather than looking solely at the savings that can be made by hiring them.
Although it may sound optimistic to think that you will have multiple hiring options to choose from so early in your professional life, it does happen. You should be able to make the right pick by keeping the following points in mind:
Early jobs may set the tone for the entire career. Remember, even if you accept a job as a temporary option, it may drag for years and end up defining what you do. That is why you should pursue jobs that are relevant to your studies and your ambition. Your first job doesn’t have to be a dream job, but it should be a step in the right direction. To make this conclusion, inquire about the details of the job description thoroughly ahead of accepting an offer, and make sure that you will be developing transferable skills. Don’t rush to take the first job offer that lands in your hands. While getting started somewhere is good in itself, getting started anywhere may not lead you to where you want to be.
Many employers have solid plans to help their new, inexperienced staff develop. Working with these employers will fast-track your professional development, and set you apart and above peers. It is important to focus your job search on major employers in your profession who are known to invest in their staff. Check their career websites and look for internships, training or apprenticeships. Inquire at industry forums and associations to get more specific information and help. Getting your foot in the door — even through a part time job or an internship — can help you secure that very first job within a short period afterward.
Not a top priority for many new hires who just hope to get a job, but it is important not to overlook an excessively low wage. Again, your starting salary will be a basis and a reference for future pay. If you begin at a substantially low pay, you may find it difficult to negotiate a significant increase down the road — even if you change employers. In addition, compensation often reflects on the employer’s practices and commitment. Money, however, shouldn’t be the sole basis of choice. At the beginning of any career, having an overall package that guarantees continued professional development as well as an acceptable pay should be the focus.
Of course at an entry job, you won’t expect much decision-making responsibility. However, you want to make sure that the job actually involves practicing the skills required for making decisions later. In addition, having a clear, defined role can help you stay on track, achieve and excel without wondering the entire time whether you’re doing enough or not. Many new hires end up burnt out because they always feel the need to do more.
Focusing on getting a good first job doesn’t mean that you pass on one after the other, and wait for the perfect one. A balance of compromise and due diligence is required to make sure that you’re getting the right deal as quickly as possible. Many employers may be willing to negotiate on minor details if they sense that their future staff feels strongly about them. That is why take only your top-priority points to the negotiation table. Otherwise, be cooperative and willing to make a deal.
— The writer is a former Gulf News Business Features Editor and is currently an editor based in Seattle.