What is the most important thing about a first job?

Are you looking for your first job?

Congratulations on entering the working world for the first time as a career person. Maybe you have had part time jobs or internships, but this is your first “real” job.

What are you looking for?

A lot of people would say, “Money!”

Related: Job Search Tips for 2018

Unfortunately, colleges, universities, and our culture at large, would have you believe that a degree means big bucks right after graduation. I’m sorry to say, but that is usually not the case.

What are some other things to consider when choosing your first job?

The Benefits of a First Job

If you are lucky you will have more than one job offer to consider. At the very least, you shouldn’t feel like you have to take the first job that comes along without considering the following things.

Earning Potential of a First Job

Even if your starting salary is low, ask questions about the earning potential.

  • How often are reviews conducted and what are they based on?
  • How is high performance rewarded?
  • Do they offer bonuses?

If you ask these questions in an interview, an employer will know you are serious. It also gives you the opportunity to surpass all of their expectations because you will know where the bar is set.

Related: Negotiating a Job Offer (or anything else you want)

Are there any fringe benefits with your first job?

Regular benefits include health care coverage and paid vacation and sick leave policies. Fringe benefits are more about the company culture and how well they take care of their employees. Are you expected to work hard and play hard? Do they offer trips? Company parties? Holiday gifts? Do they make their employees feel valued and appreciated? These are important things to find out.

What is the career path at your first job?

Focus on more than just your first year at your first job. Ask the following questions:

  • What are the possible career paths from the entry level position going forward?
  • How long does it typically take to advance?
  • What are the criteria for advancement?
  • How is the company structured?
  • Is there a clear, predictable path for advancement?
  • Does the company expect their employees to prove themselves individually in more of an entrepreneurial sense?

There is no right or wrong way to structure a career path, it just depends on what you want and are comfortable with. Make sure it is a good fit.

Speak with people who have started in the position you are being considered for. Inquire about their career path at the company. Get a feel for the opportunities available to you.  Use LinkedIn to reach out to people who currently work there or have moved on. Ask them the above questions.

If people don’t last long at this company (or don’t have a lot of positive things to say about it) it might not be a good fit for you either.

Who will you be working with at your first job?

The person you work for and the people you work with play a large part in how happy you are. These will be the people you will be learning from. Do you like them?

Don’t be afraid to ask them about their management styles, work ethic, beliefs, and level of work satisfaction. One advantage of being young in an entry level position is that you are expected to ask questions and be curious. Use that to your advantage.

Your first job in your career is exciting and there are a lot of things to consider. Don’t make the starting salary your only criteria for accepting a job offer.

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