Evaluating jobs and offers for new college graduates
Monday, 3 August 2020
You've turned in that ﬁnal paper and taken that last exam. As a new graduate, however, you still face another critical test: learning to stand on your own ﬁnancially. The ﬁrst money decisions you make over the coming weeks and months are critical steps that can shape your ﬁnancial journey. When facing an uncertain economy and job market, adulthood may not look as attractive as it did four years ago. Don't worry—there's still time for you to get a plan together.
Evaluating jobs and oﬀers
Not all money is the same. No matter how many choices you have at the moment as a new college graduate, it's important to establish what you want from your ﬁrst job out of school. Prioritize the things you believe are most important to you. Sometimes beginning the process with a list of “don'ts" can be easier to do. Then move to the “must-haves and nice-to-haves."
Reﬂect on what you hope to learn, or what skills you wish to acquire during your ﬁrst one to three years in the workforce. If a position you are oﬀered does not allow you to meet these personal goals on the job, can you access coursework and training with your working hours along with a practical salary and beneﬁts?
Start on the right ﬁnancial foot
Plan to negotiate or make a counter to your ﬁrst salary oﬀer. Negotiating can put more money in your pocket from the start. A well-researched counter oﬀer can also help you set up an employer-employee dynamic built on respect and conﬁdence.
Read up on salary negotiation tactics. Do own your research and ask for the position range during the interview process. Salary reporting sites, along with social media groups speciﬁc to your industry, can also be a rich source of information on salaries.
Before accepting any oﬀer, it's also important to understand your job performance requirements. Ask hiring managers to share their expectations for the position which you're applying for the ﬁrst 90 days, six months and a year. A prospective employer should be able to communicate clearly what you need to do to get a bonus, raise or promotion.
Some job beneﬁts can be money in the bank. Nail down what the company provides, how much the beneﬁt programs will cost you and when you'll be eligible to participate. Look especially for:
- Health insurance premiums and healthcare savings accounts
- Flexible paid leave for illness, family and vacation time
- Retirement investing and planning
- Stock options and proﬁt sharing
- Expense reimbursement for travel, training, required work equipment and devices
If a job you're considering may require you to move, inquire about resources to relocate. You can gain a stronger ﬁnancial footing earlier with employer support:
- An advance against your ﬁrst paychecks
- A one-time predetermined payment (either upfront or after you move as a reimbursement)
- An extensive, more ﬂexible package of money and relocation assistance services (access to housing search professionals, movers, etc.)
The costs of getting settled in a new city can far exceed your ﬁrst few paychecks. Do your due diligence to come up with an estimate of how much money you'll need to get set up. Then add a cushion for unexpected expenses, such as security deposits and installation fees for utilities or tips for movers to your budget. Be aware that many companies do not oﬀer relocation beneﬁts, especially for new college graduates. If this is the case for a job you want, try to build your budget needs into your salary requirements. Using personal savings or borrowing may be an option for some graduates. Consider carefully how using these choices may ﬁt with your ﬁnancial means and goals.
Quality of life
We spend our ﬁrst salaries on the basics of living, so determine if the oﬀered salary will give you the ability to:
- Live within a reasonable and aﬀordable commuting distance of your job
- Survive a typical rent increase in your new city during the ﬁrst two to three years on the job
- Socialize at least occasionally outside of work
Workplace culture can aﬀect your productivity, career track, personal well- being, and as a result, your ﬁnancial picture. Don't be swayed by casual dress codes and free snacks. Look for factors that can make you more/less comfortable and thereby impact your productivity:
- Amount of daily autonomy you prefer
- Exposure to new skills, experiences and people
- Supervisor's management style
- Communication expectations (real-time meetings vs. email, Google chat or Slack)
- Level of employee diversity
- Oﬃce layout or location for comfort, accessibility and convenience
It's only your ﬁrst job, not the rest of your life
Don't beat yourself up for taking a “survival job." But don't ever be afraid to explore an opportunity you always dreamed about if circumstances permit. Also, remember that many graduates don't begin in their ﬁelds for various reasons. The job title or speciﬁc role can be much less important to achieving your goals than simply positioning yourself to learn, grow and make connections.
The content provided is for informational purposes only. Neither BBVA USA, nor any of its affiliates, is providing legal, tax, or investment advice. You should consult your legal, tax, or financial consultant about your personal situation. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BBVA USA or any of its affiliates.
Links to third party sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement. BBVA USA does not provide, is not responsible for, and does not guarantee the products, services or overall content available at third party sites. These sites may not have the same privacy, security or accessibility standards.
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