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5 Things to Know Before Starting Your First Job

May 12, 2018 12:28 am


So you’ve found a job that seems like a good fit and you aced the interview. Congratulations! Now that they want to hire you, what’s next?


Look at All of Your Options

Unless you urgently need a paycheck, you don’t necessarily have to accept the first job offer you receive. Interviewing at a few different companies can be a great learning experience, especially when you’re just starting your career. Compare the options available to you and be sure to consider not only the work you’ll be doing, but also benefits, company culture, and salary.


Negotiate Your Salary Before Accepting

It can be intimidating to ask for more money; but if your request is reasonable, it can’t hurt. No employer is going to rescind a job offer just because you ask for 5% more than they’re offering—at least, no employer you want to work for. Asking for more also indicates that you value your talent, and projecting confidence is a good thing. And you’ll never have more leverage for salary negotiations than during the hiring process.


Make a Good First Impression

When you start your first day on the job, you’re already setting expectations about the kind of employee you’ll be. First impressions can stick with people for a long time, so make sure you nail it on your first days and weeks with the company. You can do this by dressing professionally, arriving on time, maintaining a positive attitude, and, of course, doing your best to excel at your position.


Ask Questions

When you start any new job there will be plenty of new things to learn. Some of it will be explained to you on day one, but there will always be a few processes or responsibilities that are left off the training list. So don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if it feels like something you should already know. It’s better to ask an obvious question than to make an obvious mistake.


Start Building Your 401k or IRA?

If you employer offers a 401k plan—and especially if they offer a match—take advantage of it right away. It can be tempting to wait until you’re making more money and feel more established in your career, but it’s much better to start as soon as you can afford it. Because of compound interest, investing your money in your early twenties will add up to a lot more once you retire. So try to put at least 8% of your income into your 401k starting on day one. If your employer doesn’t offer a 401k, you can still set up a Traditional or Roth IRA and save for retirement. Check with your credit union. Many offer IRA accounts and, regardless, they can help you decide what option is best for you. Plus, it can pay to stay local.


Entering the workforce can feel stressful, but it’s exciting. You’re at the very beginning of your career, and you have a lot to look forward to! If you ever get discouraged, remember to take your job one day at a time. And your first job doesn’t have to last forever. If things don’t work out, you can always start up the job hunt again—and this time you’ll have more experience under your belt.

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