November 14, 2013

Substandard Job Offer?

A number of people have contacted me over the past few weeks with questions about job offers they have received. The economy has picked up and companies are hiring. Several people are receiving multiple offers to choose from.

Patience is really important as you decide who you will allow to employ you in your first job after graduation. Time is precious. You don't want to waste your time or your talents working in a job that takes you nowhere. Find a job that allows you to thrive.

I have had three job seekers in my office this week with substandard offers. The pay is too low and the terms and conditions are just not right. They know it but they are afraid to let a bird in hand go with the risk another might not materialize right away.

This is a tricky situation. I never tell a person not to take a job but I do coach people to be patient. In a strong economy it is important to stand back and analyse job offers carefully. It is essential that you work hard to obtain as many offers as possible. That gives you employment options and it also gives you leverage in salary negotiations.

The most important thing you can do in considering a potential employer is to focus on what you will learn. You want to find a company where you will get excellent training and an opportunity to continue learning throughout your employment with them. The training you receive in the first years after graduation sets the tone for your career growth and development, throughout your life. The training you receive later in your career allows you to move up the latter and makes you more marketable if you lose your job in the next economic downturn.

Carefully research any companies you are considering, and see if there is any information on their training programs. When you are interviewing for a position, ask about the training program and the company's policy on support for continuing education. You want to know that you will have the opportunity to continuously update your knowledge and skills no matter where you are in your career. A professional in this day and age becomes obsolete very rapidly and the economy is very fickle. You do not want to be out on the market with stale knowledge and skills in a few years.

Second, make sure that the job is going to push the limits of your expertise. You want an opportunity to stretch yourself and to be challenged. Any worker who is not challenged, quickly becomes bored. Seek a company that is at the cutting edge of their industry. Companies that are growing and expanding are usually doing so because they are industry leaders.

You will also want to find a manager who will empower you, not micro-manage you. Having a boss who gives you the tools you need, mentors you and helps you adapt to your new job and new work environment is absolutely critical.

I once worked with a person who had been laid off from his first job after just 9 months. The young man was absolutely devastated. After a bit of probing, he told me that he had received no training, and that the manager for his project had changed three times in five months, and he had no mentor to go to with questions. On top of all that, his pay was substandard. Definitely a recipe for failure... He felt that it was his fault, but in fact, the company had failed him.

The reality of the job market is that it takes time… about three to six months of full time looking (40 hours per week) to find a good job. Invest in yourself, take the time to do it right. Find the job that gives you what you need to thrive. Take the time to research the companies in which you are interested. Find a company that pays you a competitive wage for your talents. Make contacts and explore your options so that you can make a good decision.