IT IS EASY TO BE TEMPTED TO APPLY FOR JOBS OFFERING BIG BUCKS. BUT SHOULD GRADUATES LOOK FOR MORE THAN JUST A FAT PAY CHEQUE IN THEIR FIRST JOB?
1 COLLECT SALARY
Last year, the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) polled 235 of the UK’s leading employers for its bi-annual graduate recruitment survey.
It found that graduate vacancies rose for the third year running. It also examined starting salaries and it found that the highest median salaries were paid at investment banks, with graduates taking home an average of £36,000 a year. See the box on the right for details of more graduate starting salaries.
2 PROCEED TO MAYFAIR
According to the AGR’s research, accountancy and professional service firms provided almost a quarter of graduate vacancies in 2006, followed by investment banks or fund managers (19 per cent) and engineering (8 per cent). Fast-moving consumer goods companies received the highest number of applications with an average of 93 applications per post, followed by the oil industry which received 66 applications per vacancy.
3 DO NOT PASS GO
Careers advisers and recruitment agencies warn students not to be too blinded by the thought of sizeable pay packets. although it is something of a cliche there is more to life than money. while a good salary is obviously important, there are other factors to consider such as work/life balance, job satisfaction and career progression.
4 TAKE A CHANCE
For certain jobs you may find that for your first job you will be paid considerably less than your peers. "Some career areas require a period of quite low level work in order to gain adequate experience prior to gaining professional status or entry to further vocational work," explains Elspeth Farrar, director of the careers advisory service at Imperial College London. "A good example of this might be clinical psychologist where it is essential to have experience of working with the client group before you can apply for the PhD in Clinical Psychology."
5 INCOME TAX
Don’t get too hung up on the figure of your basic salary. Remember there may be other benefits on top of your basic salary. Companies sometimes offer company cars and bonus schemes, which mean the advertised salary is actually different to what is taken home.
6 PAY YOUR RENT
When you graduate you will probably want to start earning straight away, but don’t rush into the first job offer that comes your way. "It is a common need for graduates to enter the working world with a headstrong desire to repay their student debt and leave the ‘Pot Noodle lifestyle’ far behind," asserts Sarah Evans at Discovery Recruitment and Training. "This can often mean that pound signs distort a graduate’s view on a role, a company and even an area of the country. There is a warning, however, for those ready to make such hasty decisions because once the position has been accepted the graduate has to actually do the job day in, day out."
7 OLD KENT ROAD OR PARK LANE?
When deciding between job offers, find out how often your pay will be reviewed, rather than just focusing on your first pay packet. "It might be just as important to check to see what is likely to happen in terms of salary progression," suggests Imperial’s Elspeth. "Some jobs may have a high starting salary to attract people in but then the progression is slow, where as some areas the opposite might be the case, low entry salary but fast progression after say six months."
8 COMMUNITY CHEST
Increasingly, graduates are taking into consideration a company’s values when deciding if they want to work with them. For example, corporate social responsibility is working its way up graduates’ agendas. "The company’s values and ethics should also be considered," advises Sarah at Discovery. "If the graduate appreciates these and shares similar goals and views, their motivation and enthusiasm for the role will be better."
9 GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD
Another question worth asking, says Elspeth, is ‘how is the work/life balance?’
"It is one thing to earn a high salary," she says. "But if you have no free time to enjoy it, does that negate the benefits?" Bear in mind that although investment bankers take home whopping salaries, they are expected to put in considerable hours to justify the pay, with working at weekends common practice.
10 BEAUTY CONTEST
Finally, there’s more to a job than free parking, warns Discovery’s Sarah. "Hopefully the graduate is looking for career not just a job and their passion to succeed is not derived solely from the material benefits. There are many other rewarding factors to a job that graduates need to consider, otherwise their role is likely to be short-lived."