I don’t know about you, but I feel like I am always being told not to settle. Keep your head up, they say, if you dream big, you can achieve big.
I’ve been told not to settle in relationships, in friendships, when finding the perfect wedding dress, or even when I am trying to satisfy a salty craving. And while I agree that settling on any of the previously listed items just won’t do, the area that I believe settling should be the least acceptable in is your career.
Whether we like it or not, I think it’s safe to say we all eventually reach that phase when reality hits us and we realize that 75% of our awake hours are spent working. Maybe this work consists of a dreadful commute, some water cooler (or circa 2016 Skype for Business) gossip, catered lunches that make the weeks go by faster, and a real understanding of the meaning of TGIF.
Why would a person ever want to spend so much of their time doing something that they truthfully didn’t enjoy?
Internship experiences have allowed me to dip my toes into a variety of industries and roles, and as much as it pains me to say this, as each internship terms comes to an end I find myself counting down the days/minutes/seconds till freedom. Not because I can now finally sleep in, but because my love for the role and my passion for the work has faded.
What happens when work isn’t a co-op with a fixed end date? What happens when this job is your actual job? Your 9-5 routine for the next X years?
It’s these questions that have led me to fully stand by the belief that you should never settle for a job.
I understand that bills need to be paid and money doesn’t grow on trees, but there’s no rush to respond to the first offer that lands in your inbox. I know too many recent graduates who were so concerned about being unemployed and not having an income, that they just signed the first offer thrown at them. And now, a couple of months into the role, they are the mayors of regret-ville.
I will be the first to agree that the recruiting process and job hunt are literally a job in themselves. But I think that more emphasis should be placed on evaluating the long-term impact of “just signing to sign” and not “signing because you actually love the job.”
So how does one evaluate whether a job is more than just a paycheck and a signing bonus? I can’t say I’ve developed the perfect algorithm to analyze this equation, but here are a couple of aspects that I have began to consider when tackling the corporate jungle.
1. The People: Who will my team be? What’s the average age of the organization? Are these the type of people who I would want to go out for dinner with after spending 8 hours locked in a boardroom together? (If you answer yes to that last one, you should have signed your offer like yesterday).
2. The Development/Growth Opportunities: What options are there for advancement in my career? Does the company help subsidize continuing education programs in the future? Are promotions and lateral movements frequent and available? Are the opportunities globally?
3. The Line of Work: Is this something that I can see myself still being motivated to do in a year from now? What type of clients does the company work with, and how strong and positive are these client relations?
4. The Benefits: Health insurance, pay, you’ll be learning something. Enough said.
5. The Commute: Where would my home office be located? Would I be expected to drive to clients often? How commute friendly is the office? If it’s located in an urban area, and worth relocating, what are real estate or rent prices in the area? Does the company offer compensation for commuting to work or during work hours?
6. The Exit Opportunities: In today’s work world, few new grads stay with the same company they entered the workforce with their entire working career. With this eventual departure in mind, what industries/job opportunities will become available to me based off the skills learned, experiences, and relationships built from this role? Will I be able to move laterally or vertically?
These questions vary in importance based on your personal values or preferences of course, but I believe that these 6 areas are often overlooked, or not emphasized enough by new graduates (and notice that I didn’t listen salary on there…) They say if you love your work, you’ll never work a day in your life – and that my friends is one kind of relationship you can sign me up for.