Don’t Believe Everything You Hear, Including This!

As I was driving to work the other day, the morning talk show on the local radio station was asking recent graduates to call in and give their best advice to the students who will be graduating this month. I only had time to listen to the first two callers, but each of them got me thinking.

The first caller’s advice was to tell the new grads that they should be prepared to take a job at a lower level than what they might expect, with the strategy being to get your foot in the door, show your value, and work your way up. Not bad advice, right? The problem is that he then continued talking, explaining that when he graduated, he was expecting to start out as a manager, but he ended up taking a lower level subordinate job. When did manager positions (outside of the fast food industry) become entry level positions? What does this tell us about the expectations and sense of entitlement of the current generation? If manager is now entry level, what is an ordinary staff position – pre-entry level? So reflecting on his analogy, I think that the advice is better phrased as, adjust your expectations to be realistic.

The second caller’s advice was to not focus too much on the money, but rather find a job that you will be happy with. This is not bad advice, but I think it is better for people who are further along in their careers, who can afford to be a bit more selective. For those who are just starting out, who perhaps have no family obligations and more flexibility, I think you should be willing to sacrifice a little happiness to establish the right starting pay. Remember, every salary decision after the first one is usually based largely on the previous salary. It is the basic compounding effect – where you start makes a big difference. Not to mention, TVM, time value of money, a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow (in most developed countries, anyway). I’m not saying to go crazy here – keep in mind the advice in the first paragraph, keep it realistic. But don’t sell yourself short.

Other than that, what else would be good advice to a new grad? How about, set up a LinkedIn account, so you can at least read pearls of wisdom like this one?

What would you advise to today’s new entries into the working world?