I don’t know about you, but when I was offered my first job out of college, I jumped at it. I didn’t think twice about the salary, where in the city it was located or what exactly I would be doing. I didn’t research the company, I didn’t ask enough questions in my interview – basically I did everything that I spend most of my days writing about NOT doing.
You know what happened? I was there for four months and spent every second essentially hating my life before I couldn’t take it anymore and I quit.
As summer rolls in, not only are new graduates looking for work but so are those who might have been laid off during this soft economy. To avoid landing in a dead-end job like I had, here are 12 tips from our experts about what to consider before you say “yes” to a job offer.
1. Ponder reasonable expectations for an entry-level salary.
Research your desired industry and the jobs you’re interested in within that sector. Use Web sites such as cbSalary.com to find the average salary for your desired job, in the location you’re looking for work. Use that knowledge when deciding if a salary offer will be enough for you live on.
2. Consider the entire benefits package.
“A salary offer is only one part of the compensation package,” says Dwayne Keiffer, assistant director of career development at Messiah College in Grantham, Penn. Evaluate the entire benefits package. Does the company provide insurance? Will it contribute to a 401(K) plan? What is the vacation package?
3. Reflect on company quality.
Job content and the quality of the organization you’re going to work for should take a backseat to most other things, says Shawn Graham, author of “Courting Your Career.” After all, you want the job that gives you the most options for your next career move. Compare job content, fit within the job and organization’s culture, opportunities for advancement and compensation before saying “yes.”
4. Job satisfaction is more important than salary.
Consider job satisfaction as well as salary, suggests Rachelle Canter, author of “Make the Right Career Move.” Launch yourself in a direction you want to go by considering the skills you have and enjoy using, skills you want to acquire and rewards that are meaningful to you.
5. Evaluate the employer’s brand.
Does a company place an emphasis on its talent? Does it engage in employee development? What reward incentives does it have in place? Are employees encouraged to participate in company decisions? All of these questions are key indicators of an employer’s brand and how much a company invests in its employees, says Ed Lawler, professor of the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California.
6. Get rid of the “shoulds.”
Don’t listen to what other people tell you that you should want. “Before accepting a job, make sure it’s a job you want and not a job your parents want, your college counselor wants or your friends want,” says Lindsey Pollak, author of “Getting from College to Career.”
7. Find out where former employees of the position are now.
Training and development is the most important thing a first job because it’s the spring board for your career. “Your prospective boss’s record for having his employees promoted to good positions both inside and outside the company is a key indicator of how good that person is at developing his people,” says Lee Miller, managing director of YourCareerDoctors.com.
8. Know what you’re looking for.
“Despite the fact that you’ve invested a lot of time and effort – not to mention money – into getting your degree, far too many of us don’t really know what we want to do after graduation and we’re hoping we’ll just figure it out along the way,” says Elizabeth Freedman, author of “Work 101: Learning the Ropes of the Workplace without Hanging Yourself.”
You don’t need your whole life planned out, but at least have an idea of what you want to do so you don’t waste time and energy applying to jobs you don’t really want.