As a young professional, the world is quite literally your oyster.
Choosing a career is one of the most exciting opportunities you can possibly explore. Your future is full of wonder, excitement and endless possibility. You have no idea what may lay ahead, you just know it’s equally thrilling as it is daunting.
Though confusing, you haven’t yet the middle-aged burden of fear or worry about your mortgage, age, or general dread that you can’t leave a role because of your obligations.
The workforce is brand spanking new. Anything could happen!
You have so many decisions to make, and they all revolve around you, and what you actually want.
However, as you begin to look around at the opportunities presenting themselves to you, the process becomes pretty complicated. This job pays really well, but it’s kind of far from home. This other role doesn’t pay well, but it literally ticks all the boxes in the description that I could have possibly wished for.
Oh wow, my perfect role just popped up, but they want 5 years of industry experience, and I’m brand new to the market.
It’s a mind–field for many. The overwhelming nature of job hunting in the early days can often lead to rash decisions made out of nervousness that you ‘have to hurry up, you have to get into a job NOW.
This is simply not true.
I know, I know, you are broke. You are sick of asking the fam for bailout money, especially when random expenses crop up that you simply weren’t expecting.
You want to go on an amazing trip but the flight alone is out of your budget. You are seeing these amazing photos of social media influencers living the dream and you want that high life, but your bank balance isn’t matching that image at all.
No one has all the answers, and no one can tell you the absolute right or wrong direction for you and your own desires.
Once you’ve had a taste of what the workforce has to offer (like I have!) you learn a thing or two. From major corporations to funky start-ups, you realize the importance of choosing wisely, not quickly.
I’ve made the errors and experiences both spectrums, from amazing company to train-wreck organizations.
The subtle teachings of a great mentor within a great organization can be game-changing. The possibilities that can be on offer within a business that values its employees can make all the difference to your future.
So, how do you prevent yourself from ending up in a sad environment?
Where the company hasn’t yet learned the importance of employee development and wellness?
How do you actually identify the companies where ‘progression is king’, and not just lip service from a recruiter to get you through the door? Which businesses will look after you when you need it the most, and ensure you are not just a number in their office headcount.
Well, there’s definitely no magic wand. However, below are some ways you can minimize your risk of ending up with a complete dud.
Tips on putting ‘the right foot forward’ when choosing a career:
1. What are the company benefits?
Look, you don’t NEED a meditation room just because Google has one, however enough annual leave allocation to stop you going completely insane is a must. If a company is giving as little as possible away, it’s possible other areas of the working arrangements will mimic that attitude. You NEED a balance between work and life. If it’s all work and no life you will almost definitely be unhappy. Check the benefits.
2. Learning opportunities
Does the business offer potential for employees to learn, develop and grow with its organization? If not, what happens when you have learned everything? It’s a good idea to be checking if your new potential employer wants you to learn and grow with the company. Development and progression are some of the key drivers that motivate and engage staff over a longer period of time. Richard Branson famously says “Train them well enough that they can leave, treat them well enough so they won’t want to’.
3. Office vibe
When you went in for your interview, how was the vibe? Were people friendly and buzzy? Or were people sour faced and rude? Remember, those people you are going to be seeing a hell of a lot of over the next ‘however many’ years. You better suss out if that’s a good thing or a bad thing when you walk into the office. Mainly, because you’ll be spending a whole lot of time with whoever it is you encounter.
4. Working hours
Look, I’m all for putting in the hard yards in the early days. Innovative and forward-thinking companies understand that workers will give you their all when they have been looked after. The old school way of thinking is that the more hours they work; The more you will get out of them. It’s just not the case. So, just note, that if the company is asking you to do above the usual work week hours for your industry, it’s probably airing on the side of the old school. As opposed to thinking about investing in their staff members wellbeing, as well as the company bottom line.
The perfect job may not be on your doorstep. That’s ok, just prepare yourself. If you are going to commute, just keep in mind that you are either eventually going to need to move closer to where your career is or get comfortable with longer commuting times. Some people kind of like the commute. You can listen to an audiobook, read, learn or just chill. The commute won’t go away though. It does mean less time at the gym, preparing food, or running errands. It’s not for everyone. Be 100% sure on your plan and do a practice run before you sign up. Just to make sure you’re happy to do the commute long term.