Q I am a college graduate, and have been offered a job at $14 an hour with no benefits. The company told me I can only work 35 hours a week so they don’t have to pay benefits. They also said they have lots of turnover, so they hope I’ll stay. I want to work in a professional job. My parents want to see me working too. But is this a job worth taking?
A. It can take new college graduates up to 12 months to land a full time professional position. While many are ready to assume the responsibility and benefits of working full time, the opportunities are limited—and even in a good economy, it is not easy to capture the job that college placement offices promise. So the unsatisfying answer to this question is “it depends”.
While this may not be the position you dreamed about as you slaved away during finals, it is something. Let’s take a look at what factors will determine if this is a job worth taking.
Is there a promise of a better future? And is it in writing? Do you need to work for 90 days to get past the “probation” period before you get hired in a true full time role with benefits? Ask for what you need and gauge the reaction.
Is this an industry you’re interested in? Many industries are so competitive that even the most qualified graduates spend a few years “paying their dues” at a less than stellar hourly rate. On the other hand, if you are not interested in the industry or the function, keep looking.
Are you doing meaningful work? Are they assigning you tasks that challenge you and where you can showcase your competence? Will this be something you can talk about in a future interview? If so, then this position might be worthwhile.
Are you meeting people? This maybe a case of it’s not what you know but who you know. The people you meet in this experience could be worth more than the paycheck because they might be able to help you land a full time position internally or at another company.
Why has there been so much turnover? They gave you a piece of information and you need more. Follow up and get the details of why people left, and if anyone lasted, what is their current role with the company? Does anyone get promoted to full time with benefits? How long did it take? If it doesn’t happen, you have another clue.
Would you be happy working there for a few years? There is a possibility that the company will extend a full time offer, with a with or without benefits, and with or without a salary increase.—so, would you take it? Thinking this through can shed light on your true feelings toward the company.
Do you have other leads? If you are not interested in the position and do not foresee it benefiting you professionally then your time will be better spent searching for a different job. Make finding a job your full time job.
Measuring the pros and cons before accepting a job is essential. Not every job is the right job for you. Although it might be hard to walk away from a steady paycheck and getting out of the house (and out of the way of your parents) you need to consider where this position could lead you. Focus on company culture, values, pay, benefits, contacts, and professional experience over the longer term – even if that means a year or two.