Landing the Right First Job

Even within the current job market there are opportunities for entry level work. Just finding a job is not enough to develop a career. A job is something you go to every day and work at and then come home. A career is something you look forward to doing every day. A career adds a layer of richness to your life because you are doing something that you love. Maybe you are making a difference in the lives of people, or developing strategy to move the company to the next level of commerce. Whatever it is that you do for work you love it. So what are some of the qualities that you should look for when choosing your first job?


If you are just out of school then you probably lack experience in your field. An entry level position that teaches you skills is very valuable. Remember that the title of this article is "Finding the Right First Job." The key word is "First." Few people stay at their first job so expect that you are looking to promote or change companies. That should be a goal with which you start your job search. Your first job is going to become the leverage that you need to move up when opportunities are available. Your first job should be one that provides you with experience and on-the-job training or education. Ask yourself, what am I going to gain from this position, or what can this company do to further my career. Both of those questions will help you determine which job is right for you.

The Corporate Ladder:

Sometimes the right first job is a means to get your foot in the door of a company for which you really want to work. Will your first job at this company lead to other opportunities? What is the company's policy about hiring within? Some companies favor promoting their own workers while other companies favor an open job board where all applicants are considered equally. Determining which hiring policy a company has before you apply can help to elevate your career. There are also other considerations about which to think. What is the length of time that you are required to remain in a position before you are eligible to promote? The length of time varies from one company to the next. Longer times before promotion can be a good thing if you are a dutiful employee. That usually means that managers are looking at your track record regarding being late for work, sick from work, willingness to do overtime, and how you handle your work load and interoffice relationships. That is a positive if you are looking for a career. This means that as you move up the corporate ladder you should find like-minded people with similar work ethics.

Pay and Benefits:

Oddly, these are not as important in your first job. Remember that experience is an untaxed benefit of a job. If a job is willing to train you and invest in you as an employee that is worth a certain number of dollars per hour. A good job will at least offer health benefits. You will need to consider all of these things before you choose a job. A lot of times when we first start out in a career we have high expectations of what we will and will not accept. Some of the greatest first jobs pay next to nothing, but they offer opportunities that do not show up on your paycheck. A good tip is to make a chart of what your basic needs are. Look at your life and lifestyle and figure out how much you need to survive and where you can cut expenses. Taking a lesser paying job that will lead to better opportunities is a wiser move than taking an okay paying first job that leads nowhere.

Think about a career over its entire life. What we do in the beginning impacts what the career will look like in the end. Be strategic. Plan out your career moves very carefully. These are solid tips that will lead to a long and happy career. Earnings are an important consideration, but not always at the beginning of your career. Focus on earnings over the life of your career. The career we choose is one of our greatest financial assets. We earn more in our working life than most people realize. Every move in your career impacts earnings. Be smart about the choices that you make for your first job.