Things I Would Really Have Liked To Know Before Taking My First Job


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Mar 22, 2008
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Been helping people with rewriting their resumes lately, and it occurred to me that there are some things i would really have liked to know before getting my first job, but no one ever told me. If you guys can think of anything else, do add to the list.

1. Hold out for a good first offer. Most of your pay offers for subsequent jobs will be based at least partly on what you made at your previous job. Likewise, your pay offer will usually be better if you are currently holding a job while looking.

2. If your aim is to work at a big company, go for a big company for your first job. Don't take a job with a small company because big companies usually want people who are either fresh grads or have prior experience in other big companies.

3. Do you want to get hired? Or do you want to get hired at a company that you'll be happy at? If you're willing to risk it, you can ask "funny" questions at interviews and still get hired. Of course, chances of losing that job there and then are higher, so I guess it all depends on how desperate for a job you are. (When I say "funny" I really mean questions like "Is there a lot of OT required?" or being honest and saying "No, this is just a job, not my passion." or "No, I'm not willing to work long hours because I have a life outside of work.")

4. Avoid companies that advertise for "fresh grads only". There is a reason why they want fresh grads only, and that reason probably isn't to your benefit.

5. Read the contract before signing it. If you don't agree, walk. There are other jobs out there. I've had a companies try to cut the agreed pay and include a bond (in other words) in it before.

6. There are good companies out there. You just have to make the effort to find them, and be willing to job hop if necessary.
 

aryanto

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#2
whatever job you can get now, get it. not a good time to be picky.
 

Mar 22, 2008
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#3
Unfortunately, that kind of mindset will only result in exploitation.

We already don't have unions to see to the workers rights, and policies seem to care about companies only. Why make it easier for more exploitation?

I can't remember yesterday or maybe the day before yesterday in the papers, it said a company tried to hire someone for a pittance of less than half his previous pay and with pretty awful contract terms also. I can believe it because the terms sound very familiar... at least he didn't sign it. Imagine if he's like a lot of people never read and just sign like that.
 

Xtol19

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Been helping people with rewriting their resumes lately, and it occurred to me that there are some things i would really have liked to know before getting my first job, but no one ever told me. If you guys can think of anything else, do add to the list.

1. Hold out for a good first offer. Most of your pay offers for subsequent jobs will be based at least partly on what you made at your previous job. Likewise, your pay offer will usually be better if you are currently holding a job while looking.

2. If your aim is to work at a big company, go for a big company for your first job. Don't take a job with a small company because big companies usually want people who are either fresh grads or have prior experience in other big companies.

3. Do you want to get hired? Or do you want to get hired at a company that you'll be happy at? If you're willing to risk it, you can ask "funny" questions at interviews and still get hired. Of course, chances of losing that job there and then are higher, so I guess it all depends on how desperate for a job you are. (When I say "funny" I really mean questions like "Is there a lot of OT required?" or being honest and saying "No, this is just a job, not my passion." or "No, I'm not willing to work long hours because I have a life outside of work.")

4. Avoid companies that advertise for "fresh grads only". There is a reason why they want fresh grads only, and that reason probably isn't to your benefit.

5. Read the contract before signing it. If you don't agree, walk. There are other jobs out there. I've had a companies try to cut the agreed pay and include a bond (in other words) in it before.

6. There are good companies out there. You just have to make the effort to find them, and be willing to job hop if necessary.
I'm not so sure that the majority of young ones have such a luxury in these times to be so picky and choosy about jobs and companies.

The key thing I wish I had known is how important good grades and evidence of strong leadership and sense of direction is to getting into the right university and into the right companies.

In my time I thought NUS was a very big deal. I now know that one should aim for Yale, Wharton, Stanford or MIT, and work very hard to get into top banks, consulting companies, etc.
 

Canonised

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Aug 27, 2003
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Check the "retrenchment benefits" clause .... :think:
 

Simon_84

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Mar 18, 2004
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you be surprised that if i told you canon has no degree cap for its engineers...:thumbsd:
so is equals to a low basic...
 

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#7
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3. Do you want to get hired? Or do you want to get hired at a company that you'll be happy at? If you're willing to risk it, you can ask "funny" questions at interviews and still get hired. Of course, chances of losing that job there and then are higher, so I guess it all depends on how desperate for a job you are. (When I say "funny" I really mean questions like "Is there a lot of OT required?" or being honest and saying "No, this is just a job, not my passion." or "No, I'm not willing to work long hours because I have a life outside of work.")

.................
I can't really agree with you on point 3.

In the ASEAN context, saying that you are not willing to work OT is gonna spell the end of your interview. Asians place a higher value on the community than on individuality. Hence, an Asian worker is expected to work OT at the expense of his personal social and family life. The Europeans on the other hand value individuality over the community and do not expect you to sacrifice your personal social life for the company.

This is based on my experience working in Singapore and also as an expatriate for a couple of years in Europe.
 

Mar 22, 2008
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Of course I don't recommend saying that you're totally not going to work OT no matter what. Can say that will do OT only when absolutely necessary, that you believe in working efficiently and don't believe in staying back for show etc. Because that's the culture in some companies. No work also stay back to show how "hardworking" they are. They spend their times surfing, chatting or playing games, and their boss thinks it's good that they're staying late :rolleyes:

Got a few offers despite being politically incorrect. Plus a couple more offers for funny reasons like the boss likes the fact that I was different and he wants to hear different views, and another when I told the interviewers I was applying not because I like the job, but because I like the atmosphere in their office. Did I just get lucky and these companies are one in a million? Who knows?

In fact, I asked my current boss during the interview whether there was going to be a lot of OT, and said outright that I wasn't willing to work long hours (strike 1 for most companies) because I had outside work (strike 2), and that it's just a job and not my passion (strike 3). I got hired on the spot. This was over a year ago, and I think it's safe to say that I'm still happy to be working there, and the company is still happy to have me there... at an average of 42 hours per week.

Note: Though for all of the above, as you say, saying not willing to work long hours did spell an end to several interviews also.
 

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Feb 4, 2008
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#9
Of course I don't recommend saying that you're totally not going to work OT no matter what. Can say that will do OT only when absolutely necessary, that you believe in working efficiently and don't believe in staying back for show etc. Because that's the culture in some companies. No work also stay back to show how "hardworking" they are. They spend their times surfing, chatting or playing games, and their boss thinks it's good that they're staying late :rolleyes:

Got a few offers despite being politically incorrect. Plus a couple more offers for funny reasons like the boss likes the fact that I was different and he wants to hear different views, and another when I told the interviewers I was applying not because I like the job, but because I like the atmosphere in their office. Did I just get lucky and these companies are one in a million? Who knows?

In fact, I asked my current boss during the interview whether there was going to be a lot of OT, and said outright that I wasn't willing to work long hours (strike 1 for most companies) because I had outside work (strike 2), and that it's just a job and not my passion (strike 3). I got hired on the spot. This was over a year ago, and I think it's safe to say that I'm still happy to be working there, and the company is still happy to have me there... at an average of 42 hours per week.

Note: Though for all of the above, as you say, saying not willing to work long hours did spell an end to several interviews also.
what line of work are you in now may i ask?
 

Mar 22, 2008
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I assume you're asking about my full-time and not outside work. Marketing Assistant, but I started as Sales Secretary, and I cover a whole bunch of non-marketing related things also.
 

mich_2103

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TS's post about taking up the first job is not realistic in bad economy times like this.

Let me give you my PERSONAL example.

By the way, I am a fresh grad. Technically speaking, I have working experience. But they are considered non-relevant so I am assuming that employers out there are just treating me as a fresh grad with no working experience.

Basically at around the 2nd or 3rd week of every month, CPF and my insurance company will deduct a certain amount of money from my bank account. If you are wondering why is CPF deducting my money, that's because when I was in Poly, I used my Dad's CPF money to pay my school fees. So now after graduation, they will routinely deduct the money from my account and put it into my Dad's CPF account. So I have to make sure at the 2nd and 3rd week of each month I need to have a certain amount of money in my bank account for these companies to deduct, otherwise I will incure interest.

I'm considered lucky actually. I have friends who borrowed money from the bank.

They just grabbed a decent paying job that comes because the bank will not bother whether you are employed or not. The bank will automatically deduct the sum of money from your bank account as agreed. Any delay, you will just have to pay for the interest. And we're just talking only about school loans here by the way. We haven't even touch on issues like being the sole breadwinner in the family, have sick siblings/parents at home, etc etc etc.

I used to think working for a big and reputable company is better than working for SMEs. But now it seems the big MNCs aren't doing so well either. It's really how you see things. I am working for a small local design company right now. I am starting from SCRATCH. I know jackshit about publishing (my previous background is filmmaking). But my boss is willing to teach me. For that, I am very glad. Because as a fresh grad, he doesn't just throw me out there and I swim or sink by myself. Because to my best knowledge, I understand that's how most companies treat fresh grads out there.

From what I see, in such bad times, take up the job first. Then when times are better, find a better opportunity. It really beats better than leaving that huge empty gap in your resume.

{mich} =)
 

kitkat

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Mar 5, 2005
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If you have savings and *niche* talents, you have more choice - you can go for your passion.

If you have loans or financial commitments and your savings does not tide you over, then the bacon comes first.

I have posted a job recently, and have received > 1000 resume. Last year (jan 08) , when i post the similar position , I received only 100 resumes. Guess my co can be *more* picky than the TS when selecting candidates.

My friend at CDC mentioned to me that there are long queues on the weekday afternoon for a *puny* number of jobs and there are harsh reality for this people.

It is the employers' market - they can ask the questions as above (by TS) to any of the prospective candidates. You do not want the job ?- fine . Next candidate please !

My advice to fresh graduates. - Do not be picky , yes it is great that you pick a career which is close to your passion and values. However, it is more important to adapt to environment (whether good or bad times) and win the battle in the final round.


my humble 2 cents
 

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Mar 22, 2008
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#13
I guess I have to agree about the long periods of unemployment not being good, and also the sink or swim situation. Must be good to have someone willing to teach you. On the other hand, it isn't a bad thing if the boss is willing to let you swim the way you want to. Better to have more freedom to do things the way you want than a boss who nitpicks down to the very detail of drawing lines at the paper corners to indicate where the staples should be. I kid you not. My friend had a boss like that.

Yes it is the employers market right now, but my main point really is that everyone is different. If different people look for different things in their jobs, what makes you think that different employers don't look for different things either? Some look for grades, some couldn't care less what your grades were (except when determining your pay) as long as you can do the job. Some look for those willing to work long hours, others look for those who can produce the results they want, and never mind the hours. Some look for particular expertise, others look for jack of all trades. What is "good" for one person may not be "good" for another.
 

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