If you have just been newly recruited, congratulations! You probably have burning questions about interviews or while you are on the job, questions that you can’t seem to find the answers to, either because you’re not asking the right person or because they aren’t telling you the whole truth.
I’m not a professional recruiter although I’m not sure if they will be able to help you with your questions either. They are after all obligated to their clients, the companies. But bear with me, as we take a look at common dilemmas faced by individuals new to the working environment.
To be honest, you may not find answers here, because every one of us has our own set of problems. However, you may be able to take away something from this post, the leverage you need to make the right decision or at least the kind you are less likely to regret later on.
Here are 5 dilemmas you’d probably face as a first-time employee.
1. Negotiating Your Salary
Let’s start with before you get your first job: at the interview table. One of the harder things to talk about during the interview for your first job is the salary range. Despite what you believe about what you are worth, the company has another set of beliefs as to how much they are willing to pay you. This usually coincides with the budget they have at hand.
Find The Range
Some companies offer more than others, and some prefer to take advantage of the new kid in the block. With a bit of digging, you will be able to find out that ideal range.
Next, find a sum that you are willing to rough things out for. Then, ask for that sum (or higher) while still keeping within the range. How? By asking, politely. To clear the air, you should also look at the benefits they have to offer as well. While the pay may be meagre, you might be reimbursed with a good overtime rate, good health package and other forms of monetary incentives. The keyword here is ‘might’.
If you have done your research well, you would know when they are shortchanging you, usually by offering you whatever they can get away with. But if you can’t bring yourself to take the final figure, reject the offer and move on. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
In any case, if you won’t starve from the ‘paltry sum’ they are offering you, take into account the value of the experience you will get from taking the job. In the right circumstances, what you will learn will probably be more valuable than what you will earn.
2. Settling for a Secondhand Offer
Some of you may have come across a job offer that isn’t what you are looking for, or offered a role that you had not applied for, and worst of all, the offer comes right at the interview table. Should you take the job or not? For this one, it depends.
The two-bird Killer
There are two reasons a company would offer a candidate a job adjacent to what he or she is asking for: they need someone urgently, and you are qualified (sometimes, over-qualified) for the job.
Any recruitment done to bring you or any other candidate to that table costs money, usually a high sum for a lousy return (think sifting through hundreds of candidates to find two who will finally get the job). HR managers are reluctant to go through the process again if they can find one who fits the bill – even if it is the wrong bill.
On your end, the offer may not be what you want in for, but as you are starting from zero (as in experience), it boils down to whether or not you are desperate enough to settle with second best. And settling with second best actually happens far more often than having a career where you get to do what you love. Ask anyone.
3. Nobody Is Perfect
So you’re at your first job and you want to make a good impression and do everything right, prim and proper. Screwing up is probably the last time you’d expect yourself to be doing. But trust me, you will. Everyone screws up, but the good thing is, people screw up from trying something new. Only people who don’t try anything new never screw up.
The Lesser of Two Evils
Being new on the job, your task is to do everything and anything, and you should, because you can get away with messing up. Yup, being new on the job is the only time you are allowed to screw up (and still escape unscathed).
And it’s all alright. Organizations know that if they want to have experienced employees, they have to train them, and to do that, they aren’t as hard on new screw-ups. In short, they let them mess up. And nothing teaches you how to do things right faster than when you do it absolutely wrong the first time.
Plus, you want to screw up when you have a supervisor watching over your every move, not when you are making decisions on behalf of your company two decades into your career.
Plus, it’s easier for you to recover from your failures and mistakes when you are in the lower hierarchy, and what you learn from those mistakes is what is going to help you keep your job, and advance your career.
4. In the Battling Arena
Office politics is an ugly thing (very much like the non-office type), but it is probably due to human nature: the need to be the alpha dog, the leader of the pack, or just to survive in a dog-eat-dog world out there. There is a reason why I’m using all these doggy preferences.
Pick A Pack
So what happens is, there are a few packs in the same office and these packs are made up of individuals with the same likes and dislikes. These individuals help their own kind, and gang up on weaker prey. Every group has a leader, the one who dictates who does what, and promotes them accordingly, when the opportunity arises.
You will be thrust into this arena and be expected to take sides, and for the love of bacon, pick a side(!)… if only to get them out of your hair. Keep the gossip at a minimal level and try to focus on getting the job done and advancing your career.
If you ever find that the politics is taking center stage more than the real work itself, maybe it’s time to pack up and leave – or be a freelancer.
5. Pack Up And Leave
There may come a time when you think that you should move on. You might think that you don’t belong in this line, or it’s torturous to do something you don’t like, repeatedly, day in, day out with no progress in sight. Then, it happens.
Say Your Goodbyes
You get approached by a rival company or a headhunter who sings praises of you and offers you a higher wage – the answer to all your debts. Or maybe your manager pushed you one time too far, making you sit out yet another weekend, staying at the office, because he has kids and you don’t.
Regardless of what encourages you to leave – and it will come eventually – only consider leaving if you know for sure that you are better off.
If you can’t be sure, however, but still yearn to leave, leave in the best of terms. Make your apologies and get things off your chest before you go. And if the damage isn’t too bad, stay in contact with the company and the people within, because no matter how many jobs you will move on to, you will never forget your first.
The people in your first job watched you grow so there will always be that bond there and you never know if you may want to reconnect with them later on in your career. Leaving in good terms leaves that door open for future opportunities, even if it means going back.
I may not be able to give you an inside scoop of how organizations work when it comes to picking or retaining their candidates but one thing is for sure, any company that is bent on expanding is always looking for good people who are willing to learn, who are patient and who are not shy to ask questions to things they do not know.
You aren’t expected to know anything about your first job, and to be honest, not every company out there is willing to teach you the ropes. But take that as a challenge to better yourself on your own terms and who knows one day you might be able to head your own company, based on the rules that you make.
What dilemmas did you face in your first job? Share them with us and let us know how you dealt with it.