You must prioritise what you want from a job, rather than look at only how much an organisation can pay you.
What can be more exciting than finding your first real job, your first step to independence? How should aspiring job hunters select from the different opportunities available?
Many students (and working adults for that matter), prioritise the first year’s salary above everything. I have seen people join a company only because it offers to pay them five per cent more than their current employer. There is nothing inherently wrong with going for a high paying job. After all, most of us prefer to earn more money! However, there are far more important factors one must consider.
Firstly, your first job is a launchpad for the rest of your career. It is the foundation for your future. What you do is more important than the pay you get. The focus has to be on capability building in year one — most first-time jobseekers in the first year are more or less in a quasi-training period. Therefore, the company that offers you the maximum possibility of learning additional skills and capabilities should be your prime consideration. Hence, you should ask questions about the training provided, and assess how much you can learn at the end of the first year.
The person you report to on your first job is equally important. He or she should be a person you can look up to and learn from. Hence, if possible, make a request to meet your immediate manager. Talk to him/her and ask questions about the role and what it takes to become successful. Then, you will get an idea about whether she is the person you would want to work with.
Secondly, think about career progression and growth. It is always better to join an organisation that has shown strong growth potential than a slow-growing one. As a new employee, in a fast-growing company, you will have ample space to demonstrate your skills, and there will be room for faster promotions. Ask around and look at what end customers are saying about the company. The reputation of the company and the demand for its services is a good indicator of its growth potential.
Thirdly, your peers should be well qualified and capable. That is when the best learning occurs. At Thinking Palm, we often get questions asking us if one should choose a more senior role in a mediocre organisation over a less senior role in a well-known organisation. Our preference is to select the reputed organisation as you will end up learning far more in an organisation which has good quality staff, even if you’re not in a senior position, especially in your first job. This will reflect well on your resume too as it will highlight your capability to potential employers.
Lastly, most students do not have a family to look after when they get their first job. The financial responsibilities are usually not that serious for first-time job seekers in India (unlike in the West where many students graduate with heavy debt). Hence, this is the right time to select the “ideal” job instead of focussing too much on the salary. Focus on gaining capability and building your launch pad. Overtime the monetary rewards for such an approach will far outweigh the short-sighted focus on that first salary.
The writer is drector at Thinking Palm.