Is My First Professional Job a Good Fit?
As new college graduates prepare to walk across the stage, they are in the final throes of preparing for their first professional job. We’ve all been there. We just want someone to pay us for the years we just spent studying for our degrees, not to mention paying back our student loans. But there can be a panic that sets in that keeps us from making the right decision.
In all the years I’ve been working with young adults, I see time and time again new professionals almost jump into the first offer that comes their way. They are scared to death…this is IT! The only one that will ever come down the pike. What happens is, they forget to determine if it’s a right fit for them, not just the employers. Here are some tips to make sure you’ve done your due diligence before accepting the new position and warning signs something may not be right.
Do you know what kind of environment you thrive in? Do you want to work by yourself or do you need a brainstorming culture? What motivates YOU? If you haven’t had a truly professional experience, then I highly recommend you take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Personal Impact report which really should be a required assessment for all new professionals. This 26-page report gives incredible insight into how you work, communicate, team styles that are important to you, how you deal with conflict, your leadership style, your approach to change and how stress affects you. It’s an incredible tool in helping know the environment in which you will thrive. Not to mention, it’s a great gift for anyone whose looking for a graduation gift!
Ask Questions That Matter to You
Don’t forget that getting hired is a two-way street. You are selecting them just as much as they are selecting you. Ask questions that are deal breakers for you. I’m not talking about “Do I get to leave at 5 p.m. each day?” but “Can you tell me why this position is open?” or “Can you tell me why the previous person left?” These type of questions give you insight into what is going on behind the scenes. Read their body language, look for politically correct answers. If you have additional questions after you leave the interview, it’s perfectly okay to ask them when you hear from the company again. But the most important thing is to ask the questions, then hear what they are and aren’t saying!
You Get The Call! You Were Selected Hours After You Leave the Interview
I believe this is a major warning sign. If a company is so eager to make you an offer they call you the moment you reach your car, something isn’t right. Why are they so desperate? It’s not that you are the rock star they’ve been dreaming about but most likely, have a problem keeping employees. Never respond immediately but ask for some time to consider the offer. Then do your homework if you haven’t already. They are checking your references; you need to check theirs. Use LinkedIn to determine who has worked there and what their experience has been. It’s much easier to decline an offer than to get into a situation where you are miserable on day one. Do your homework!
I had the great pleasure of connecting with a young adult who accepted a job and was absolutely miserable. He learned many things about himself through getting his first job and determined the company was a horrible fit. He realized he panicked and was afraid he wouldn’t get a job that he didn’t see the warning signs. And now, had to make the tough decision…do I quit after six months? This is an individual decision each person much make but I highly suggest writing a pros and cons list. Are you able to stick it out for a year? Are you comfortable in having an honest conversation with your boss about your frustrations? Can you take on new responsibilities that give you hope? If the answer ends up being no, then I always recommend exiting with grace. Provide at least 2 weeks’ notice, if not more. Make sure you work just as hard at the end as you did when you began. Put everything in order so there is a smooth transition for the next person.
Career paths can occasionally provide a bumpy ride, but I believe each job teaches us something very important. As a new professional, you will make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again and will vet the company/job more thoroughly next time. It’s like a relationship, you learn what is a must have and on what things you are willing to compromise. But where you thrive and excel is when you are around people who challenge, encourage and motivate you so you “proceed with confidence” professionally!