What works for you

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I’ll be starting my job search soon, now that I’m a senior. How do I choose the right job for me?

With nearly two million students graduating with a bachelor’s degree this year, your question is very popular. While graduating from college is exciting, embarking on your first job is daunting. You may be feeling pressure from professors, family and friends to have a job lined up before graduation. But quickly accepting the first offer can be a mistake, over 70% of graduates leave their first job within 2 years. Here are some guidelines to make sure you and your first job match.

The first skill you need is research. When you were applying to college, you read about colleges and courses to write your application. Now when you are job hunting, employers like to see applicants with knowledge of the company, demonstrating enthusiasm for working there.

Your company research starts with your job hunt. You will be searching for prime companies in your major, target industry and possibly location. Once you have shortlisted a few, research the specific employer to tailor your cover letter and resume to them. When you get a job interview, you will need to detail your research down to company specifics, to make a better impression on your interviewer. The best place to find this online are the company’s website, social media and industry forums.

A good question to ask is if all jobs paid the same, which one would you choose? Work should not be a chore and you will be far more successful doing something you enjoy. Identify your own motivation, evaluating your interests. What subjects during your college years captured your long-term interest? Your major does not necessarily determine your career, most employers just require ‘a college degree’. There is a difference between looking for a job and searching for a career. Grads today are lucky to be entering the workforce in a strong economy. You should prepare a list of questions to ask the interviewer, since you both want to learn if this is a good match.

You also need to decide what different jobs and companies can offer you. Make a list of your top ten job criteria, remember no job will fulfill them all. Benefits are an important part of the pay package: company health insurance, pensions, 401K savings plans, vacations, home buying assistance, etc. Location will also be a big factor, since you have to consider real estate prices, cultural opportunities and more. Unlike moving to college, you will be living in that area a long time and may be joined by a spouse and family.

Find out what you like doing best, and get someone to pay you for doing it… Katharine Whitehorn.

Written by John Regan, former Director of Sales, for equity research.