5 Things to Consider Before Accepting Your First Job


Landing your first job right out of school can be tricky. What happens if you can’t find something you think you’ll enjoy that matches your degree? What if time starts running out and you need a job, like right? NOW?

Often new grads settle for something that is outside their field of study or doesn’t even require their level of education because they are simply looking for a job…and at some point in their search, any of them the work is starting to look pretty good.

My caution, however, is to stay true to who you are Really want to do instead of too quickly defaulting to everything available. Life has a funny way of leading you in a certain direction based on the seemingly innocuous decisions you make on any given day or at any given time.

However, the decisions you make right after graduating from college can put you on a path that will serve you in surprisingly pleasant ways or put you on a path that won’t serve you at all in the long run.

Why your first job is important

A young professional shakes the hiring manager's hand after accepting his first job offer at the end of an interview

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Recently I spoke with a 25 year old young woman. She has a degree in communications and public relations, but said that while she was still in school she decided she hated everything about public relations.

It was “too late to change majors,” she said, so she persevered. Now, as a relatively recent graduate, she has a degree that is of no use to her because she hates what the degree tells her she can do.

Between the time she graduated and now, she was working as an administrative assistant, and she didn’t like that either, so she quit.

When I asked her what she was going to do next, she said she was planning to get her real estate license. In the meantime, she would take on additional shift work at her second job, and she would probably work a few odd jobs to pay the rent and other expenses until she decided on something.

I didn’t get the impression that this intelligent young woman had a real idea of ​​what she wanted to do. She said she wanted to do something “meaningful,” and I’m not sure where getting her real estate license fits in, but maybe she really has a passion for helping people to buy houses, which was not obvious during our conversation.

What became obvious to me is that she is adrift with no real sense of direction or purposeand the more she accepts small jobs and temporary assignments, the more difficult it will be for a future employer to take her seriously as a candidate.

Even if she were to figure out tomorrow what she wants to do over the next few years, she would have a hard time writing a resume that would get her the job unless she knew someone who could give it a fantastic recommendation. .

The point of all this is that you have to have some sort of planand you must keep the following five things to keep in mind before accepting your first job unless you want to get derailed before you even start.

1. Create a five-year plan

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Everyone, at every stage of life, should have a five-year plan. You don’t have to expect everything planned to go exactly as planned, but, as with anything in life, if you don’t have a plan, you’ll end up spinning your wheels.

Benjamin Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” » So even if you’re not sure you can follow through on everything in your plan, at least create one.

Having an idea of ​​where you want to be in five years will simplify some of the decisions you need to make now.

For example, ask yourself, “If I accept this position now, will it put me on the path I need and want to be on if I stick to my five-year plan?” If the answer is “yes,” you continue to consider accepting the position. If the answer is “no”, unless there are extenuating circumstances, you should probably decline the position.

2. Consider the long-term trajectory starting with your first job

A young man/professional is considering taking his first job

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This consideration is an extension of the first. Whatever decisions you make now about your career will likely impact what happens to you in the future.

My first job, for example, was one I took out of desperation. I felt enormous pressure from my parents who wanted me to have a paid job so that I could get health insurance. In those days, you had 60 days to find something or you were left out of your parents’ plan and you were out of luck.

This was hammered home to me by my mother who worked for the state and ran the family insurance plan. She was determined that I wouldn’t ever be without insurance, and back then there were fewer options available than there are today. Either you were insured by your employer or you didn’t have insurance unless you had money to pay for a single-payer insurance policy.

So I took the first job I was offered even though it wasn’t in the district I wanted and required a 40-mile one-way commute. I was fortunate to be able to find a job in the district I wanted to work in a year later, but if that hadn’t happened, I might still be living in a rural area not far from where I I grew up. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

Know what you want and consider the consequences of settling for something less before making a decision out of desperation.

3. Create a list of pros and cons of taking this particular job as your first job

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I recommend that you list the reasons why you accepted the position and then list the reasons for not accepting the position. Which list is the longest? How serious are the downsides? Are the pros good?

Weigh this list carefullyand let it guide you towards the right decision.

4. Remember it’s your life…and your decision

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Your parents, friends and other loved ones love you and want to see you happy and settled. However, resist their efforts to pressure you into making a decision. If you let them pressure you and you end up making a mistake, You it will be the one that pays in the long run.

Resist their good intentions and listen to your own advice – your instinct or intuition – to make a decision find out if this job is right for you or not.

5. Ask the right questions before accepting a job

When you’re offered a job, that’s not the end of the conversation; This is just the beginning.

Be prepared to ask lots of questions before saying “yes.” You are making a momentous decision and you cannot afford to take it lightly.

Develop a list of questions about your employer’s expectations and ask about benefits and benefits. Make sure the salary is enough to live on, and don’t be afraid to ask if you can negotiate certain details before saying “yes.” You will look less desperate And more professional towards the people who hire you. If possible, know what you’re getting into and know you can handle it before accepting the offer. Additionally, get as many of the terms in writing as possible.

Taking your first job right out of college is a big deal and it can make the difference between putting yourself on the career path you want or creating a detour from which you may never fully recover. Learn as much as you can about the job before you say “yes.” You’ll be glad you did.

If you consider these five things before landing your first job, you’ll start your career off on the right foot and set yourself up for professional success in the career you want. Be strategic…and don’t settle!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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