This year’s college grads should find the job market a bit more welcoming than their forebears in this “Post Great Recession” economy. Companies are planning on hiring more college graduates compared to last year. However, entry-level aspirants must be on their best game.
Staffing firm Robert Half is stepping in to help, by outlining six of the most common conundrums facing new grads with tips on how to approach them.
1. “I have two offers but neither is my ‘dream job.’ How do I decide?”
Half suggests that you set aside starting salary and job title, and ask these key questions:
How well do I connect with my prospective manager? Is the organization stable with room to grow? Which is the better fit in terms of people, culture and industry?
2. “I only have one job offer. Can I negotiate the salary?”
The simple answer here is “yes, you can.” However, you should negotiate based on hard data and industry research. Here you can use Robert Half’s 2016 Salary Guides are a source.
Keep in mind that pay is just one of the things you can negotiate. There are also things such as schedule flexibility, vacation days or training. Hiring managers often have more flexibility when it comes to perks.
3. “I haven’t landed a full-time job yet. Should I take a temporary job or post-college internship?”
This is a really common issue, but working at something is better than doing nothing. Take the temporary position or internship, and continue to search for your dream job while you work.
Half said that more than half (51 percent) of senior managers interviewed consider consistent temporary work equivalent to full-time employment. Keep that in mind.
4. “I have an offer, but it pays less than what my friends with the same degree are making. Should I take it?”
Half advises that you try negotiating for a higher salary, but that you shouldn’t put too much store in what your friends are making. Compare apples to apples: “That high salary your classmate got could have him working 80-hour weeks for a difficult boss.”
Sometimes the lower-paid job brings better opportunities for training and career growth. Sometimes, though, it’s just a lousy offer.
5. “My parents don’t want me to take this job. What should I do?”
Balance parental input with advice from a professional mentor. After all, your parents may not be up-to-date on the professional scene you’re entering.
To find someone in your chosen field who can advise you, use LinkedIn, connect with local professional associations and ask college professors for referrals. Half’s research found that, while 86% of CFOs believe having a mentor is important for career development, only 26% of workers have one.
6. “I’m a few weeks into the role and think I made a mistake. Should I give notice?”
Robert Half advises you to be patient in this situation, since “every new job takes some adjustment.” Here’s where having a good mentor can really come in handy. Talk to your mentor, drill into the core problem: “Is the actual role different from how it was described to you? Are you overwhelmed by the change?”
To cap off this great advice, we have Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, who offers the following points for new grads entering the workforce:
“Keep an open mind. Flexibility and a positive outlook go a long way in adjusting to a new role — everyone appreciates proactive and nimble workers.
Give, don’t just take. Be of service at every stage of your career. Offer to help those still looking for work, as well as college juniors who will be new grads this time next year.
Strike a balance. Work hard but don’t neglect other parts of your life, including your family, friends, hobbies and professional connections.
Manage your reputation. It follows you wherever you go. Do what you say you are going to do, and keep your social media profiles free from questionable content.
Continue to invest in yourself. Today’s workplace requires lifelong learning, and your college degree is just the beginning. Think about what skills will get you to the next level and make a plan for acquiring them.”