How To Land That First “Professional” Job – Weigh Your Options

Given all the interest generated, you are bound to receive a number of job offers.

Before jumping “too” early, you are encouraged to weigh your options, because not all offers are created equal.

Consider the following attributes of the job:

  • The role
    • Is it a role that is below what you were expecting or hoping for? It may be at “ground-level” but does it offer the potential opportunity for rapid career growth? This may be your foot in the door!
    • Is it a more advanced role, for which you are concerned about meeting expectations? Perhaps including areas beyond your skill-set and experience? You’ll want to make sure to understand the “support system” available to assist if that becomes necessary.
  • The company / industry
    • Is it in hyper-growth mode? If this is the case you will rapidly be exposed to new and exciting things. In many cases, you’ll be able to blaze new trails in areas that haven’t been explored yet. And, there is the prospect of a nice payout in the future (i.e., stock options, stay bonus for top performers during a merger or acquisition, etc.).
    • Is it a mature business / industry focused on managing its resources for maximum efficiency as they seek additional market share? If this is the case it is “more likely” that you’ll be asked to perform according to well-defined policies and procedures, at which time you will learn a ton of valuable business-related discipline. And, the “total compensation” package may be more comprehensive.
  • Will you be a:
    • Big fish in a little pond – Lots of exposure and potentially autonomy, but there “may” not be a lot of support (mentoring and guidance) to help you along the way.
    • Little fish in a big pond – Lots of support and paths for career growth, but you “may” be a mere number in a large organization (harder to get noticed).
  • Note: Any of the above “either or” cases can be ok! It is just important to know what you are getting in to, in advance. So, ask the questions.
  • The people – How did you feel about the people you met? Did they TRULY seem to enjoy working there? Were they friendly and outgoing, or uptight and reserved?
  • What is the TOTAL compensation package? This can include:
    • Benefits
      • Insurance (Health, Dental, Life and Disability)
      • Retirement / 401k – Is there a company match (a.k.a. free money!)
      • Employee Stock Purchase Plan (the ability to buy stock in the company at an attractive price)
      • Vacation Days / Sick Days / Paternity Leave (man, I never had that option while we were having our 4 boys)
    • The pay:
      • Salary: The fixed sum you will receive every pay period regardless of how many hours you work (40, 50, 60 hours / week).
      • Hourly: And, if overtime pay is a consistent “option” that you can count on.
  • Location – What is the commute like? Both duration and distance. Don’t guess. Take a test run, during rush hour!

Once you know the above, for each, there are a number of considerations. For example, a high salary with minimal benefits may be less attractive than a moderate salary loaded with benefits. It is very easy to evaluate these, from a monetary perspective. Simply lay them out, side-by-side, in a spreadsheet and do the math!

Then, all things being equal, a shorter commute or a route with less traffic can be much more desirable than spending 1-2 hours “on the road” or on the train each day.

Bottom-line: Weigh your options and don’t ignore any gut-level instincts you may feel, in terms of the direction to take.

Congratulations! You will soon be experiencing the first day on your new “professional” job 🙂

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