Being spoilt for choice is hard, especially when it’s as impactful as your first graduate job. You might be lucky enough to be involved in more than one interview process at the same time, but what if you get a job offer from both? How do you decide? When both are offering exciting positions, it’s often hard to imagine yourself actually working there. Instead, it’s all about prioritising and doing your research, says Lizzi Hart of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau.
Ultimately, what are you driven by? Say it out loud now.
The usual suspects for this category are: salary/commission, location, the brand/company, career progression, and company benefits. These aren’t mutually exclusive by any means, but often people will be able to pigeon-hole themselves into one of these categories based on their current situation.
You might only want a highly paid role to build up money for your own business venture further down the line. Maybe you don’t know what you ultimately want to do, and you want to try a few things out? Or, do you want to climb the ladder, wrung by wrung, into your ‘dream’ career? Work out which one of these scenarios matches you best, and prioritise accordingly.
Did you hesitate before you answered the previous questions? Even if not, here are some words of warning for each:
If money: Beware that a job yielding a high salary or commission structure is probably due to the job being challenging, undesirable, and/or you need advanced qualifications and experience for it. In a role like this, you will often need patience and commitment before you start to reap the rewards available to you.
If it’s the brand: Be careful that you aren’t just drawn to a company because they are well-known. This doesn’t mean that they are the best place for you to flourish. Do some research about what it’s like to work for them, such as their Glassdoor reviews, especially focussed on the department you’d be joining.
If it’s the location: If you’re drawn to a desirable location, such as London, don’t be blinded by TV/film interpretations of the capital. Again, do some research and figure out why you would want to work there – do you have friends there? Can you afford to live there? How long would your commute be? Is there a social/music scene that draws you to the city?
Ultimately, career progression should always be in the back of your mind, as each job you take should hopefully contribute towards you propulsion forward. If your main reason for wanting a job does not align with your career progression, or at least your rough career goals, why do it?
You might have heard the term ‘cultural fit’ before, and it’s definitely worth considering fully. The people you work with could impact upon the work you do, the expectations that come with them, and even your motivation and drive to succeed. Make sure you can get a tour of the offices for each job, and be sure to speak to as many people as possible to judge the overall atmosphere of the working space. If you get on with, and can bounce off your future colleagues, you are far more likely to enjoy your job, even if it is just a stepping stone role.
Do you know what your first few months of work looks like? Will you receive adequate training and support, or just be thrown in at the deep end? Will there be others in the same position as you, or will you be the only new hire? These are all questions to ask and compare results between the two (or more!) roles that you have on the table.
If you’ve gone through everything the two roles offer, and you still have no clear preference, then consider the company perks. Do you get free gym membership, a company car, a cycle to work scheme, company incentives, a pension plan? How many days of holiday do you get? Often, the little things like these can make a huge difference in your overall job satisfaction.
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