Deciding on your first ‘proper’ job after university is a big decision. A few things that made my decision slightly easier are described below.
Whether you are still at university and getting a head start by exploring your options for next year, or whether you are a recent graduate with offers on the table but finding it challenging to decide which is right for you, here are some key factors which are worth thinking about.
My job search journey began around Christmas last year (during my final year at university) and I found that getting a head start allowed me more thinking space – I highly recommend anybody still at university to do the same. Making a decision will most likely be difficult and will require time and energy so being organised and knowing what you want is a good first step. But how do you know what you want and what is right for you? At the end of the day, this is new for you!
Aside from your parent-approved must haves, such as a good salary and benefits, other things to consider include:
What is the training like?
You want to work for an organisation that supports and encourages you to grow. In order to learn and grow you need great training, especially as a recent graduate with little or no commercial experience. This was one of the most important factors I considered when I was making my decision about who to apply for.
It is important to understand what your future with the company looks like. A good way to check whether the company offers this is by researching or asking questions about the existing team and their growth opportunities and/or promotions. How achievable is this? Who will be there to guide you through your growth? How quickly have other grads been promoted?
Company size, big vs small
Bigger companies usually have established ways of doing things including training, progression opportunities as well as the role you are required to do. They are also well-known, so working there will add value to your CV and could set you apart for future roles. Larger companies could also have the funds and resources for a wider range of benefits.
On the contrary, smaller businesses typically have less formality and can be more flexible. As well, you get to wear more hats working for a smaller company, exposing you to more job functions and giving you greater variety and responsibility in your role.
Ask yourself, how achievable are those promotions and which company size is more suitable to you as an individual?
This is something that might be slightly tricky to figure out during the initial research or initial interviews, however some things to keep in mind when analysing this are the following:
Are the employees you meet happy to be working for that company? And with one another? And most importantly, do they feel like their work is valued? Do they have clear objectives for their next promotion? Most companies are now on Glassdoor, a useful website to get information about the company. Be open minded however, and make sure you look at the reviews overall rather than focusing solely on the negatives.
Values and vision
This remains one of the most important factors as you need to be passionate about what you are doing in order to be passionate about work. Do the company’s values match your own? If not, can you turn a blind eye to things that you might not feel that strongly about or agree with?
I want to conclude this blog by saying that applying for your first ‘proper job’ is not easy. The main thing is to be aware of what you want to gain out of the company or role that you have in mind and to be organised. Take charge and be organised.
Additionally, manage your own expectations. As a recent graduate with not much commercial experience you are likely to have to start from the bottom. Don’t let that put you off!