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Think about what really matters
In the age of Google HQ, it feels almost compulsory for companies to have trendy offices in Shoreditch complete with ping pong tables and fully stocked beer fridges. Get excited about these things- a great company culture will make your working week fun and rewarding, as well as bringing plenty of free food and drinks your way- but remember they’re just perks, and don’t let them overshadow more important considerations. Make these questions the basis of your decision:
1. What is the solution, service or product the company sells, and does it add value?
There’s no better place to begin your career than at a company with a bright future- with growth and success come upbeat staff, ample rewards, and a host of golden progression opportunities. What’s more, your belief in a product will directly impact your success- you’ll be the best possible ambassador for a company if you can articulate the ways its product benefits its users.
2. Who will you be learning from?
The quality of training in your first graduate job will be vital in helping you flourish. Go for jobs where you’ll be taught by inspiring people with track records of excellence. Remember too, though, that most learning at work is informal; you might learn a lot more sitting two desks away from the CEO in a tiny startup than at a two-week training programme in a bigger company.
3. What will you be doing day-to-day?
Pretty self-explanatory. If you know in your bones that a role’s main duties aren’t for you, even if you’re keen on the company or the industry it’s in, don’t pursue it- you need to love your job to shine at it!
Lots of people leave University with fixed ambitions to work in the glitziest industries- Marketing, for example, or Management Consultancy. It’s great to approach your job search with a strong sense of direction, but be wary of being too rigid. Unless you’ve got direct experience of a job, you’ve got no real way of knowing what it’s really like on a day-to-day basis, and you risk being disappointed. So rather than setting your heart on a first job in a specific industry, think qualitatively about what you want from your career. You might be motivated to earn lots of money and progress quickly, for example; you might want a fast-paced and dynamic working environment, or independence and the opportunity to think creatively. Stay open to the ways that different companies, industries or roles might satisfy these criteria.
As a Business student at University, I didn’t plan to build my career in Recruitment- instead, I took what seemed like the most promising opportunities as they arose. Ten years in the industry have taught me things about Recruitment I had no way of knowing at the outset: it combines the pace and pressure of a Sales role with the need for industry research and analysis. It’s all about people- matching candidates’ skills and personalities to the companies where they can make the biggest positive impact. It’s a career that depends upon your ability to build and nurture relationships. And if you’re enterprising and creative, it’s an industry in which you can make a lot of money.