Just graduated? Don’t get discouraged with your first job
Many fresh graduates encounter tough realities of the job market with their first entry-level positions. (Shutterstock)
Starting a career is exciting and a period full of promise. But many fresh graduates quickly see their bubbles burst as they encounter the tough realities of the job market and entry-level positions, competitive hiring processes and low wages, and demanding work schedules.
Although all of these factors can make for a tough start, they also mean that if you overcome them, you will be able to establish yourself and progress with an edge. It takes persistence, patience and a good amount of realistic thinking to be able to navigate that initial period of a career.
After talking to many graduates with high expectations and little professional knowledge, these are the themes that seem to be recurring in their struggles.
The past few years saw many companies downsizing and thus leading to experienced faces getting into job hunting. As a fresh graduate, it seems intimidating to compete against someone with a couple of decades of experience under their belt — and is still willing to accept an entry-level job to make a comeback.
Although these experienced competitors may make it difficult sometimes, there are many reasons they often are not really taking the job that is a best fit for you. One reason: They may not be willing to accept an entry-level wage. And from an employer’s point of view, these candidates may appear to be a challenging hire as far as training on company processes are concerned.
In many cases, employers are after those who are open to new ideas and can adapt to specific operations and requirements. In this case, you may have an edge in the employer’s view despite your rival’s experience.
Where’s the money
You may be keen to hold your first paycheck in hand. But if the salary that comes with the first job is less than expected, will you pass on the job? The answer lies in being as realistic as possible.
Compare the salary offered to other entry-level positions. Keep in mind even a couple of years of experience can make a huge difference. So while you still need to cover your expenses, be willing to start at a low salary and work your way up.
Don’t worry about selling yourself short at this stage. In many cases, entry-level jobs don’t really set the tone for your future compensation.
You should still pursue a fair salary for your education and potential. The only factor to keep in mind is the lack of experience. So be humble when it comes to getting started, especially if the entry job is with an employer known for putting time and effort in training.
It’s hard work
Entry-level jobs can be demanding, and less-than-satisfactory for ambitious graduates. You may be the one doing the tasks that no one of the more experienced staff is willing to do. You may be getting too many orders and a lot of direction from almost everyone around you.
And you may feel frustrated more often than you feel accomplished. But that is a stage where you need to grow your experience from the ground up.
So it never hurts to know how the menial tasks are done, to watch and observe how others take on big projects and to just be there learning and advancing. By doing so, you are setting yourself for success when it is your turn to do the big projects. If you take this approach, many aspects of your job may begin to become more enjoyable.
You may also see the point of why you need to be doing them and why they are critical to the company’s overall processes.
Finally, an entry-level job is just like any other position in terms of how it turns out. It is really up to the individual to show ability and prove a readiness to move to the next level, which is never achieved by making demands. It is the attitude of collaboration, hard work and potential that will position a candidate for a move up.
By Rania Oteify
The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.
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