A decade ago, I landed a job at a Japanese community paper following a rigorous job hunt, just two weeks after I graduated from college. Like any fresh graduate beaming with pride, I came to my beat on time every day, and enthusiastically told people that “I’m a reporter” when they asked me what my job was.
However, no more than three months into my first job, I found myself dragging my sleepy behind out of bed every morning. I was courting thoughts of submitting a resignation letter to my boss. I finally called it quits after a week of contemplating on the matter.
Looking back, I can honestly say that it’s up there with one of my biggest career regrets.
The job of a reporter is a taxing one, no doubt; but the real problem for me was because I didn’t wait long enough to give myself enough time to recharge.
I was too excited to get a job, when apparently, I wasn’t emotionally and physically prepared for it. Of course, I also needed the money as I can’t piggyback on my parents’ savings forever.
What could I have done differently? If I could turn back time, I would give myself more time to rest.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself before you take on an offer for your first job:
Are you really ready to take on the job?
Don’t feel guilty about taking ample rest after graduation: You deserve it.
Max out those idle time until there is nothing left. Indulge in your passions. Binge-watch TV series. Catch up on your reading list. Travel to a new locale or hang out with friends.
While it’s true that a resumé gap can arouse suspicion on whether you’re flaky or just plain lazy, it’s all just a matter of perspective.
Elizabeth Atcheson, a career adviser from Blue Bridge Career Coaching in Seattle, says it’s generally okay to go ahead with it. However, she says applicants should be ready to justify the “gap” to the HR manager, when they’re called in for an interview.
“If you can afford to take, say, the summer off before looking for a job, and if you’re itching to travel or do something else, then go ahead and do it,” Atcheson tells Monster. “If you explored something of keen interest to you during that time and can talk about what you learned, most hiring managers will not hold that few months’ gap against you.”
What steps have you taken to prepare for a job?
Reach out to recruiters and companies to expand your network and have an idea of what the job market is like. LinkedIn is one of the best places to get started for your networking efforts, especially if you have zero job experience. By setting up an account on the site, you are making yourself available to millions of recruitment heads and companies looking for fresh talent.
It’s also wise to send your resume to a couple of companies so you can have choices rather than just accepting the first job offer you receive. Career matchmaker AfterCollege and Millennial Branding found that 44 percent of students “only apply to between one and five jobs at a time,” according to a Forbes.com report. Millennial Branding owner Dan Schawbel advises students to target 30 to 40 jobs at once to up their chances of receiving more callbacks.
Does the job meet your concept of ideal job?
Learn as much as you can about the good and the bad of the job. Ask the HR manager what the rigors of the job are, and to describe the work environment and work hours. You don’t want to be tied to a job that will require you to work for 12 to 16 hours a day, or be required to do ad-hoc tasks that are not at all related to your work.You also don’t want to be working for peanuts, even if you’re just starting out.Click To Tweet
There are also websites out there such as Glassdoor where you can learn about what people think of a company’s work environment.
You also don’t want to be working for peanuts, even if you’re just starting out. People would preach you should expect to pay your dues, but you don’t have to start very low. Glassdoor has a salary calculator that could help you come up with a baseline estimate of how much your time is worth.
Do you see yourself getting closer to your dreams through this job?
Does this job help you develop important skill sets that can help get you the corner office or start your own venture someday? If you don’t see yourself working for the company for more than two years, why bother?
Have you taken a look at other options?
Have you done a fair amount of research on the competition? Did you apply for other jobs as well? As the cliché goes, there are plenty more fish in the sea.
Think about the opportunity costs of the job. These refer to conditions such as the logistics involved, the job’s location, and if you’re giving up a better offer for the job.
It’s true that having a job is one of the reasons you went to school for. But you also have to make sure that the position you go for is worth it. Don’t take on a job just so you can tell people that you have one.
Did it take you quite some time before you convinced yourself that you should get a job? If you’re a new grad, how long would you wait before you think you’re ready to enter the workforce?
Let us know in the comments section below.