Just graduated? Hopefully after all the revision etc you have got the grade you wanted and have been celebrating. The next step is to start looking for your first job. And it’s important to get this right.
So what should you be looking for? We think that the most important things include
- When to start work?
So let’s consider training first. Some companies offer graduate training schemes and some don’t. You shouldn’t discount either at this stage. A poor graduate training scheme will not be a good start to your career so you need to consider what’s involved beyond what title the company is giving it. Some graduate training schemes move you from department to department, others offer lots of offsite training, some are simply on the job – but they all have their merits. Being offered only on the job training might seem like a poor substitute at first glance, but if your training is at the hands of industry experts, people who really know their stuff, then this option might well be the best one.
Some companies may not have a huge budget for training – again this might not matter. A huge budget poorly spent could well end up a waste of your time – so you need to do some investigating and decide what’s best for you.
When it comes to prospects you need to think about how you are going to be able to develop within a company. Will you learn new skills, or develop existing ones? Is there a possible career path with the company? Whatever you do don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’ll to be a team leader within a few months of joining a new company. Many companies will not be able to offer promotion opportunities for some time – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t learn things and contribute to the company in the meantime. Most companies like ambition but few like interviewees who are arrogant – so do make sure you are realistic in your career aspirations. They will be looking for what you can bring to them, as much as what they can do for you. At the end of the day they have a job of work to do, and it’s obviously in their interests to ensure all staff are well trained – but their top priority will be their day to day work.
One thing to look out for is reviews. Not salary reviews but performance reviews. How often do they hold them? How formal are they? Companies who give you feedback on your performance (whether formal or not) are much more likely to help you develop your skills and career.
Talking about packages is always interesting. We are constantly amazed how much some people think they are worth, with no experience and often little knowledge of the industry they are moving to. A company will see you as an investment, even if you are new to the industry, so they will definitely want to pay you a fair rate – but the reality is that they are likely to be “running you at a loss” for a while. Ideally you want a company that offers regular pay reviews so that as you improve your salary does too.
Some companies offer a range of benefits on top of base salaries – health care, pensions, flexitime, bonuses, extra holiday etc. These all sound great but don’t go after these alone. Great benefits will not be able to compensate for a job that you don’t enjoy for very long.
Lastly you will want to consider when you should start work. Last year we saw a lot of jobs come on to the market for graduates in September / October. This is not because the jobs were suddenly created in these months – but because most companies know that graduates will be looking to take a break after their exams and won’t want to start too early. What we are finding this year is that there are more jobs around for graduates – and this is both good and bad news for you. Good because more jobs mean more opportunities and more choice, but bad because these are REAL jobs when companies want graduates NOW. So the sting in the tail is that companies will be taking people on earlier than usual – so our advice is to move now. Start looking now to get ahead of the game and hopefully have a wider choice of opportunities. In a few weeks many of these positions will be closed.
Lastly – our advice to candidates is always free – so if you want to know if your CV looks good, has the right format, contains the right amount of information etc then give us a call. We will happily talk to you about what’s available in the market too.