As a growing start-up, we frequently create new, entry level openings from marketing to analytical. Right around this time of year, when we open up new positions, the generational differences between Millenials and Gen Xers start to surface in my mind.
As I deep-dive into hectic rounds of interviews for candidates seeking entry-to-associate positions, I am reminded of a few things I’d like to tell all prospective hires, as they navigate the job seeking process.
1. Take the job that pays less.
If you ever have to decide between a job that’s exciting and challenging and a job that’s of average interest, don’t use salary as the swaying factor. Priceless know-how is gained from accepting challenging positions that pay very little, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The first three years out of college should be focused on learning, not on becoming the top earner.
Think about your accrued value in the long term, and how much you will be worth a few years down the road armed with the unique skills that you learned at your first job. Even if you have to live on ramen noodles and canned goods, believe me, it is a solid investment.
2. Negotiate with your conscience, not your ego.
As a prospective employer, I’ve realized a good college education alone does not a valuable employee make. I’ve interviewed entry-level candidates that graduated from Ivy League schools that don’t compare to a seasoned and humble bright applicant with a track record under their belt.
If you are new to the job arena, don’t try to play hardball with your prospective employers by negotiating an inflated salary based on your potential--even if you’re convinced you're a star in the making. Think about your first job as an intensive college course in the school of life. And you get the perk of being paid to do it.
3. Don’t bring in third parties.
More and more we see candidates with coaching parents that provide consulting (and bias) during the negotiating process. Refrain from saying “my parents think that I should be paid x.” If you are over 21 and of sound mind, your parents shouldn’t be making that decision for you. And if they are, your prospective employer does not want to know.
4. Delayed gratification is a valuable strategy.
There are invaluable lessons to be learned from starting from the bottom and working your way up. Besides skills, the journey gives you determination; it tests your character, and shapes who you will become. In an internet era of instant gratification, entry-level job seekers should understand that not everything is immediate. You have to show with performance that you deserve the package that you think you do.
All this said, don’t sell yourself short. Know what you’re worth, but be humble enough to accept the challenge of proving it, and also, of realizing how much more you’re worth after a few years of doing so.