Ahh, graduation. It’s a magical time filled with graduation parties you won’t forget and super inspiring graduation speeches. But when all that magic wears off and it’s time to start the job hunt, you, new grad, can feel like you’re floundering (just a bit). That’s understandable, since this is probably the first time you’re negotiating your salary and (gulp) thinking about accepting a job offer you don’t really want. So, we checked in with Brandi Britton, district president of the staffing company OfficeTeam, to get some expert guidance. OfficeTeam’s parent company, Robert Half, does annual hiring and salary research, and found that, while now’s a great time for new grads (employers plan to hire more new grads than last year — woop!), they still face workforce-newbie challenges. Recent grads: Here’s Brandi’s best advice for handling the six most common job situations you’ll face this year.
1. You have two job offers, but neither is your “dream job.” How do you decide? This is a tricky one, and one that most new grads will find themselves in — it’s VERY rare to land your dream job immediately after graduation. Brandi says that if you’re not over the moon about either offer, weigh the pros and cons of both. “College graduates shouldn’t necessarily think of their first job search as finding the perfect job, because sometimes that perfect role is down the road in your career. Instead, make educated decisions,” she tells us. “For example, is the location good for you? Is the industry one that’s progressing? Who are the people you’re going to be working with? Do you connect well with them? Will the experience that you get from the role help you be better than you are at that moment?” Answer those questions, and you’re likely to have a pretty clear pros/cons list to base your decision on.
2. You only have one job offer. Can you negotiate the salary? In a word, yes. If you do, “You always want to have hard data and do industry research,” Brandi says. If you’re getting the sense that your potential new employer isn’t going to budge on salary, you might be able to negotiate other aspects of the job. Brandi recommends asking yourself what things are important to you, be it a paid parking spot, flexible work schedule or being able to WFH one day a week — and focus your negotiation skills on one of those.
3. You haven’t landed a full-time job yet. Should you take a temporary job or post-college internship? Yes. Brandi says both are a great option for new grads, for a couple reasons. One: You’ll be in high-demand, according to Brandi. Also, many new grads aren’t entirely sure what career direction they want to go in, and temp work allows them to try out a few different paths before committing. “We’ve found that a lot of recent college grads are choosing to take temporary jobs because they want to get more experience and get exposure to a variety of companies,” Brandi says. “Taking a full-time job can be a great thing, but for the most part, you should stay there for at least a year for your resume to look good. A temporary job allows you to try a whole bunch of different companies out, without having to speak to instability in your resume,” Brandi says. Plus, lots of temporary jobs actually become full-time (look for temp-to-hire), so if you do end up liking the job, you can still commit.
4. You have an offer, but it pays less than what your friends with the same degree are making. Should you take it? First off, take everything with a grain of salt. “Sometimes your friends embellish,” Brandi says. Base your salary insights on your research and other specific perks and factors. Brandi adds that there can be a whole host of reasons why one job pays more than another. “Maybe they’re going to be working 80 hours a week, or maybe they’re working for a not-very-nice boss, so they have to pay more to get them to stay. You just never know why a job might offer much more than a typical entry-level position.”
5. Your parents don’t want you to take this job. What should you do? Well, when it comes down to it, Brandi says, “It depends who’s paying your bills, right?” So, so true. But there ARE ways to make sure you’re pursuing your own goals and no one else’s. Brandi suggests finding a mentor who’s not in your inner circle so that they can give you impartial advice. “Try to find somebody that can give you guidance. Your parents are going to have a certain bias because you’re their child. A mentor is going to give you a more objective view.”
6. You’re a few weeks into the role and really don’t like it. Should you give notice? From it being too much work to issues communicating with your boss or it flat-out NOT being the job you signed up for, identify the specific issue first, Brandi says. “Second, talk to your network or professional mentor for advice. And lastly, be patient, and give it time to see if it improves,” Brandi says. She adds that raising the issue with your manager could be the solution. For example, she often hears from new hires that they’re bored and don’t have enough work. So one option would be letting your manager know you’re eager to take on more responsibility.
Overall, if you’re a new grad, don’t worry if you’re feeling a little lost with these first-job issues. These sticky situations are super common; you’re not alone and there are ways to navigate through them.
Have you found yourself in any of these situations? How did you get through them? Tweet us your thoughts @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)