As you don your cap and gown, you may feel anxious about launching your post-graduation career. Do not despair. You’re not alone. In fact, 67 percent of college students graduate without a full-time job lined up. Some encouraging news is that employers plan to hire nearly 11 percent more graduates from the class of 2019 than they did from the class of 2018. Today’s strong labor market places post-grad recruits on a solid path for employment, as a college degree offers some protection from the uncertainty of the economy and the future of work.
Beyond identifying the right vocation, it’s equally important for new grads to consider which positions will be the best fits for themselves. Many will hastily accept high-paying jobs only to find themselves stuck in work environments they don’t really enjoy. This poor fit results in frustration that may spiral into a resignation or termination.
Use the following advice and practical tips below to guide your post-graduation job search toward a role that’s really right for you:
What Should I Look for in My First Full-Time Position Out of College?
1. Opportunities for Growth
Recent grads often must pay their dues at the bottom of the corporate ladder to learn the professional skills they’ll need to sustain long, successful careers. Choosing a first position with a clear path for advancement sets you up to be promoted within the organization, offering you plenty of room to grow with the company.
Student debt and other financial obligations may drive you to seek out higher-paying positions, but building a career from the bottom up will likely reward you financially in the long run. A lateral move can also broaden your skill set, exposing you to new areas of your chosen field.
2. A Positive Workplace Culture
A workplace culture that prioritizes people development and resonates with your values is the kind of environment you ought to join. Keep in mind that a study from ThriveMap found 48 percent of workers have left a job because it did not meet their expectations. That number is even higher among younger workers, with 73 percent of Gen. Z-ers saying they’ve left a job for that reason. Finding a positive workplace culture, then, means finding a job for the long term.
With this in mind, think about what kind of organization will suit you best. When assessing potential employers, ask important questions about their practices. Does the company consider the employee experience? Is its management transparent and communicative? What about work/life balance? Does company policy require that you clock in, or is there greater trust and flexibility? Does the company give back to the community in any way? Do your homework so that you accept an offer at a company with a culture aligned with your own.
Important Questions to Ask During the Interview Process
An important part of doing your homework in the job hunt is asking the right questions during interviews. Here are a few topics you should be sure to cover during discussions with prospective employers:
1. Employee Turnover Rates
A high turnover rate may be indicative of a negative workplace environment with limited growth for employees, or of a disconnect between management and lower-level subordinates. Impress your interviewer by taking an interest in this data. Doing so will imply that you are looking for more than just a job.
2. Training, Mentoring, and Coaching
You’ll quickly realize that your degree didn’t equip you with all the skills the job market seeks. Many employers fill this gap by providing on-the-job training. A company that invests in its employees’ personal development will help new hires improve their professional skills and knowledge. Inquiring about training will help you determine whether the company is committed to employee growth.
3. Benefits and Additional Perks
Your salary will be part of a greater compensation package, which you should consider in its entirety when weighing a job offer. While it’s important to gain a clear picture of the benefits and perks available to employees, measure your words carefully when asking. You don’t want to sound entitled.
How to Tell If a Business Has a Good Company Culture
Assessing an organization’s culture is one of the trickiest parts of the job search. It can be hard to understand exactly what the office environment is like unless you’re fully embedded in it.
That said, there are a few steps you can take to gather some valuable information about a company’s culture before accepting an offer:
1. Research the Company’s Online Presence
A company’s website and social media pages can be very telling of workplace culture. Many companies give careful thought to their online presentations, and you can gain a sense of their culture through their web content. For example, a company that uses Facebook or Instagram to highlight milestones such as new hires, promotions, accolades, and workplace events like happy hours and work retreats is likely to be a company that genuinely cares about and invests in its employees.
You don’t need to wait for your interview to meet with an employee at a company you’d like to work for. Take the initiative and reach out to an existing staff member. Ask if they could hop on a quick call or schedule a coffee date to tell you more about their company and their experience as an employee. Someone who isn’t interviewing you is less concerned with selling you on the position, making them a great resource for learning about the company’s real, unvarnished culture.
3. Interview at Similar Companies and Compare
Research your target industry and interview with multiple companies. Not only will this give you a better shot at landing a job with one of them, but it will also allow you to see how different companies do things. You can then compare and contrast your experiences with each company to see what makes each employer unique.
Plus, your multiple interviews will give you some competitive intelligence about the industry, which will impress your interviewers!
Graduating into a job market where talent is in high demand, today’s young job seekers hold the upper hand as companies adapt themselves to meet Gen. Z’s priorities. Focus on finding a company culture that empowers you and inspires your growth, and you will position yourself to launch your career on the right foot.
Ronni Zehavi is cofounder and CEO of Hibob.