The first job out of school is HUGE!

My son just graduated from college and is looking for his first career position. Naturally I am helping him, and I will say that he is a lot better off than I was when I was looking for my first job out of school. As one of the "pack" of baby boomers, everything was so much more competitive, whereas right now the job market is quite favorable for new grads. From my perspective, the job market is actually the best it’s been in at least five years. All my clients are finding jobs quickly. However, it does seem like the young people have the best shot at getting hired though. Employers, especially from large companies, love to hire new grads as they can get them while they are fresh and train them in their way of doing things. This trend has been well documented and is discussed in a blog that references a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor about the positive outlook for college grads. The blog post states that the salaries for college grads are on the increase and lists the highest paying career options for new grads.  Here’s the link:

http://www.executive-resumes.com/2006/05/new-college-grad-in-your-family-good.html

So how can you use this opportunity to your advantage? The key is to realize how critical the first job can be in shaping your career, so take it seriously. Don’t jump at the first opportunity, but take time to explore who are the best companies, which ones have the best training programs, what will look good on your resume. And most of all, evaluate what type of position is the best fit for you. A good place to start is to take a personality assessment. I use the Myers Briggs, but there is a derivative of it called the Kiersey Temperament Sorter that you can take online for only $14.95 and know your score in minutes. The report can be very helpful in answering important questions such as "in what type of work environment will I function best" and "what careers are a best fit with my personality?" If you are an intuitive type (N), you will want to look for variety and stay away from routine repetitive tasks. If you are more sensing (S), you don’t mind concrete tasks, such as accounting for example. If you are an extrovert, you get your energy from activities, people and things outside of yourself, so you’ll want to be sure you look for a position that has people contact. The way you structure your day-to-day activities is reflected in your judging (J) vs. perceptive (P) style. If you are a J you will be happiest in a more structured environment with set routines, procedures and schedules. P’s on the other hand love flexibility and can be stifled with too much structure; they may be happier in a small to mid sized company as opposed to larger companies that tend to be more structured and bureaucratic. 

Here’s a great option for you P’s out there, look at Best Buy. They have a new policy that allows their employees to do their work wherever and whenever they want, as long as they get the job done. That’s right, they have no scheduled work hours, the employees are doing their work at home in the evenings, on the phone while they are waiting in the carpool line, or on the sidelines watching their kids soccer games. Amazing, isn’t it? What’s amazing is that the initial reports are quite favorable in terms of how well the program is working. So well, in fact, that other companies are thinking about testing it out. You can read the article in a recent Business Week magazine (December 11, 2006). What a shift!

I could go on for pages about matching up personality with work environments and career choice, but for now just take one thing away from this blog. If you are a young person getting ready to graduate or recently graduated, take the time and put in the effort to learn about yourself, about companies of interest, and interview carefully by asking the right questions to find out if the company is the right fit for you. If you make a good decision with the first job and you do well, it will positively impact your entire career. Make a mistake the first time and it can get you off to a bad start that is not necessarily irreparable but can result in other short term jobs that don’t look so good on the resume. So take the Kiersey Temperament Sorter online, research company websites, and read all you can about interviewing. For starters, check out this very helpful site for college grads:

http://www.collegerecruiter.com/

I’ll continue to provide helpful information on this blog, so stay tuned.

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