There’s no doubt about it—choosing your first job out of college is a major life decision, so you want to get it right! If you’re one of the lucky few who have already gotten multiple job offers, chances are you’re probably wondering how to tell which one is the right one for you. There are so many things to consider! Luckily, Her Campus has your back. Here are six ways to know that a job is right for you!
1. You know exactly what you’re getting yourself into
You definitely want to know exactly what you’ll be diving into. Asking the right questions to the employer will give you invaluable insight into both your position and the industry. “Speak to your potential employer to make sure you understand what the job consists of on a daily basis and what a typical workday is like,” says Lesley Mitler, president of career coaching service Priority Candidates, Inc.. “I find that recent grads fail to fully understand the job and are surprised to learn what they will really be doing once they start.”
You definitely don’t want that kind of surprise your first week on the job! So, for each of your job offers, make sure to find out exactly what tasks you’ll be doing, whom you’ll be reporting to, what the work hours will be like, what your expectations as an employee will be, your salary and benefits —everything! Will you be using the skill set you’ve worked so hard to attain in college? Your job should make the most of your strengths and match your preferences.
“Each student should be aware of her priorities for a job,” says Darlene Johnson, senior associate director of Hofstra University’s career center. “Therefore, some introspection and self-assessment needs to be done prior to the start of the job search. While no job is perfect, one that meets with your most crucial wants and needs is one worthy of consideration.”
2. Your interview and interviewer left a good impression on you
Think of your interview day as a two-way street—you’re getting interviewed, but you can also do a bit of interviewing yourself to see if a prospective employer is a good fit. Interview day is a great time to pick up on clues about the job. Was the receptionist friendly and welcoming? Were the interviewers and the human resources officers patient and kind? Were you introduced to potential colleagues? According to Mitler, being comfortable during the interview process and feeling like you could be yourself at a job is an important indicator that the job is right for you.
Since college grads are new to the workplace, good employers should also be nurturing. Did you like the people you’ll potentially be working for? Do you think they’ll be good mentors for you? Did you watch their body language and notice whether they talked down to you or talked to you? According to Rick Gillis, author of JOB!: Learn How To Find Your Next Job In One Day, the first and foremost sign that a job is right for you is that there is a two-way conversation from the very beginning. An employer should be on his or her best behavior at an interview, so post-interview, you shouldn’t feel like something was amiss. You should feel comfortable and respected, and like you could be yourself at the company. A job interview that leaves you feeling good is a good sign!
3. The current employees seem content
Who wants to work at a company with employees who are mopey and grumpy? It’s so important that the people you meet at the company seem like they actually want to be there. Which of your potential employer’s employees seem the happiest?
Do a little research—is there a track record of high employee retention? What about employee turnover? Maybe you’ve noticed that the same position you applied for at the same company has been posted on job boards several times throughout the past year, or that people at the company talk about pursuing new opportunities all the time. High turnover almost always signals problems in management or the working environment.
“Speak to others who are in the field or who have knowledge that they can share, which will help you make an informed decision,” Mitler says. “You can also look for information online – Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.—to gauge employee satisfaction.”
You can also get the scoop straight from employees themselves. This is the perfect time to visit your career center and put your college’s alumni network to use or to connect with acquaintances who work at the company.
“Use LinkedIn to identify alum[s] that work at the company,” Mitler says. “See if you can connect with them to learn more about what it is like to work at the company.” How would they describe the working environment? What do they do on a daily basis? What are their favorite parts about their jobs? If they could change one thing about the company, what would it be? If you like what you hear, the job may be the right one for you!
4. The office culture is totally you
Very few things are worse than having to work with people you don’t mesh well with! In order to avoid this potentially messy situation, make sure to check out the offices and the team you’ll be joining before committing to anything, especially if you did your interviews over the phone or via Skype. If you can, request to meet with one of your contacts in person at the office you’ll potentially be working at. If you have an interview in person, pay close attention to the people and the working environment during your visit.
Is the working environment and culture up your alley? Does the chemistry of the workplace feel right to you? Does the environment have the qualities you loved from your past internships, jobs and extracurricular activities? Consider whether you work best on a team or alone, or whether you like working in a loud or quiet environment.
Another aspect to consider is whether you would prefer to work at a smaller startup or a larger company. Some employees may thrive at startups, which are known for being flexible and having close-knit staffs. Others may thrive in a more structured, corporate environment with set hours and more narrowly-defined roles.
Finding a team you’ll be excited to work with on a daily basis and a boss who will give you the opportunities to grow and expand are crucial. Your job’s office culture should make you feel comfortable, motivate you and allow you to thrive.
5. The job fits your future goals
Who knew those “I want to be ____ when I grow up” exercises we did in kindergarten could come in handy almost 20 years later? Except now it comes in the form of your future career plans. Where do you want to be 10, 20, 30 years from now? It’s scary to think about, but your first job out of college should get you started on the right path and give you the valuable experience and transferrable skills you need for your future plans.
“Your first job is the beginning of your career and needs to provide the foundation for gaining fundamental skills so you can grow professionally,” Mitler says. “It should enable you to have options for your next career move and should provide the experience you need for where you hope to be three to five years down the road.”
It’s a good idea to evaluate the job descriptions and decide which of them is going to give you the skills you want and need in order to grow in your area of interest. “Technology is such an important and significant factor in our business environment and can be very disruptive to jobs,” Mitler says. “Therefore, you should focus on the key skills that you want to develop and not think about your career growth in linear terms. The jobs that exist today may differ from the jobs that will exist 10 years from now, so what you need are skills that will help you be relevant for those jobs in the future.”
Make sure that you have room to grow with the job you take. For example, if you want a job in the fashion industry, it’s great if you find a relevant job, but it’s not so great if it’s a job that makes it hard for you to switch positions or move up the ranks. How else are you going to be a top designer if you don’t have much job mobility?
When comparing job offers, ask yourself where there is more opportunity for job and salary growth. Are there training, support and possible career progression at your prospective jobs? What about employee training and career development opportunities? Is there a strong track record of internal promotions from the group? Will you eventually have to relocate to continue your career growth?
If both you and your prospective employers have plans and objectives that align with each other, as well as the means to reach them, you’re on the right path! Every step you take on your career path should help you reach your end goals.
6. You’re passionate about the work you’ll be doing
Naturally, it all comes down to whether you think you’d enjoy doing the job or not. No one else knows the answer to this better than you do! In order to make the right decision for you, do some soul-searching. Are you truly passionate about the job? Can you see yourself going to work every day and enjoying it? Can you see yourself being the happiest and most successful at this job?
Going with your intuition isn’t a bad idea, either. “I am also a believer in the ‘gut instinct,'” Johnson says. “Ask yourself, ‘What is my inner voice telling me?’ Don’t try to convince yourself that a job is right just because you think that is the job that you should take, or because it meets only one of your requirements.”
Your decision will always be a bit of a gamble, but you’ve got to trust yourself. Even if your course of action doesn’t end up where you want it to, there’s always room for change. “When you take a job, they don’t make you sign an oath in blood that you will stay there forever,” Johnson says. “If the position is truly not right for you after you have given it a fair amount of time, consider taking what you have learned about yourself and seeking a position elsewhere.”
No one said choosing the right job is easy, but with these tips and some self-reflection, you’ll be on your way to achieving the career you’ve always dreamed of having!