Is any old job the right job for you?

When you first emerge from the safety of tertiary study, dragging your weighty student loan behind you as you compete for jobs with other graduates, it may be tempting to settle for the first job that comes along and consider it a win.

But after all that hard work you put in to your studies it may be worthwhile to park the panic and really consider what you’re getting yourself into. You should think through how strategic that first role is for your future career. After all, you only get this chance once.

Before you fling your CV wildly towards any and every job ad you see, take a moment to think, is any old job the right job for you?

Can you afford to be picky? Possibly not where your bank account is concerned, but don’t lose sight of the fact that your first job is an important stepping stone for your future career. Your first job should lead on to bigger and better things, not land you against a career brick wall. 

Being picky but not too picky

Obviously being the real world there is some pressure to find a job, and soon. So how can you be just the right level of picky about what you will and won't do, in a tight job market?

  • Target your search so that any job you do come up for is within your range of “acceptable” workplaces.

  • Take time for some in-depth research about your options. There may be ways and means of entering your industry you’d never thought of.

  • Based on your excellent research, set some guidelines about the minimum you’re willing to accept.

  • If you are lucky enough to find a role in your chosen industry, does it provide room for growth? Does it teach you skills that will help you move up the chain?

  • If you have to consider taking a role slightly outside your field, will it provide you with relevant transferable skills for a future move back into your field?

So you got a job

Hurray! You found a job in your field, but the pay is horrendous and the hours even worse. Should you take it?

  • Assess how relevant the job is to your future career goals and decide whether you can handle the toil if it will set you up for success later on. If not, then have a good hard think, and maybe go back to the drawing board.

  • Does the low-level position come with a wide variety of tasks, where filling the fruitbowl and answering the phone is interspersed with the odd interesting, relevant, job? Embrace the mundane for the sake of gathering a diverse skillset and show your employer how awesome you and your attitude are across the board.

  • A diverse entry level role can help you figure out what you do and don’t want to do and guide you in your career path decisions.

  • Will this job help you to pay the bills while you keep an eye out  for your ideal role?