Report: Starting Salaries Not Too Shabby

Dawn Papandrea | July 17, 2009

On average, new grads are making almost $50k right out of college — not too shabby in this down economy of ours, right? I know I certainly would have been thrilled with that kind of “first job” salary offer back when I graduated. Here are the deets…

NACE’s [National Association of Colleges and Employers] Summer 2009 Salary Survey report shows that the average starting salary offer for new college graduates now stands at $49,307. That’s off less than 1 percent from the average $49,693 that 2008 graduates posted last year at this time…

Seems like a good sign that things may be on the upswing. Of course, job openings may be a little harder to come by, which means that grads need to work slightly harder to edge out their competition.

Start with these tactics:

Grads: We want to hear from you! Tell us about your job hunting experience, and if you’ve been happy with salary offers.

Stop Worrying About Jobs, Young Whippersnappers

Dawn Papandrea | December 8, 2008

With all of the unemployment statistics out there, there’s a good possibility that you’re reading this in fear of losing your job, or not being able to find one once you finish school. There’s an even greater possibility that one of your parents or older relatives was laid off or took a buyout. What you don’t often hear about, though, is that for the younger workforce, the climate isn’t necessarily as bad as news reports would have you believe, as recently pointed out by fellow blogger, the Brazen Careerist herself, Penelope Trunk:

What I’m saying is that young people shouldn’t be thrown by the bad news that old people are pushing. Things are not that bad if you’re beginning your career. Think big, ask a lot of the world, demand respect and fun and a high learning curve.

In other words, stay positive — your future looks bright! That’s because, as the boomers are offered packages to opt out, or simply asked to leave, many companies are turning to new grads to fill those slots at a cheaper salary than they were paying their longtime loyal employees. Of course, it seems an unfair way to land a job, but it’s the inevitable circle of life these days, so you might as well take advantage of it. Some things to keep in mind…

Companies are still hiring, it’s true: Employers say they will hire about as many new college graduates from the Class of 2009 as they did from the Class of 2008, but plan to keep a watchful eye on those hiring needs, so they can shift gears if necessary, according to the Job Outlook 2009 survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). In such an environment, says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director, “students need to use all the resources available to them to conduct a successful job search, starting with the campus career center.”

Think inside and outside the box. In this case, the box is referring to your computer. You need to diversify the way you market yourself, whether it’s online at job boards, or at social network sites like Twitter (follow us: @collegesurfing), or LinkedIn; or offline at campus recruitment opportunities, job fairs, networking events in your field, or spreading the word to friends. The more you get the word out, the more potential jobs you’ll hear about.

Big opportunities have less to do with salary than you think. I haven’t heard much about students landing six figures and signing bonuses out of college, have you? In other words, keep your expectations down to Earth, and the job offers will come. The most important thing to think about is what a prospective job can do for you beyond your paycheck. Will it get you close to a mentor in the field that you can learn from? Does it serve as a jumping off point to something else you’d like to do down the line? Is it your dream company, and you don’t care how low on the totem pole you start?

Consider both short- and long-term. Despite the last point, money does of course count — let’s be real. The idea is not to think so much about the starting salary offered, that you overlook what that salary has the potential to become over the course of time. Would you rather start off making $35K knowing that the next level up makes $40K and takes a couple of years to reach, or will you take $30K with the promise of a performance review every six months and a better benefits/vacation package? The point is, listen carefully to all offers and then make your decision based on the big picture.

Feeling a little better? I hope you do.

What are your biggest fears about the job market?

Gen Y: Whiners or Winners?

Dawn Papandrea | July 24, 2008

Just read an interesting study about Gen Y that I thought was worth sharing. In a nutshell, 50 percent of Gen Y workers give employers six months or less to “prove themselves” before they move on to a new job. I guess being from Gen X, I find this concept bizarre. After all, I was always from the school of thought that is was the new employee that had to do the proving. But today’s workplace is far different, even from 10 or so years ago when I entered it. Says the press release:

“Gen Y’s are the most technology-savvy generation and grew up with immediate access to whatever they needed such as information or connections. They are able to identify new opportunities much more easily than any generation before them, so they tend to be impatient when told they have to wait and pay their dues.”

That from Executive Consultant Tim Vigue of Novations Group, a global consulting organization based in Boston who released the study. OK, I’ll buy that, but I think part of the phenomenon may have something to do with a feeling of entitlement that some of the younger generation’s workers graduate with. Of course, if a job or career doesn’t feel right you shouldn’t feel obligated to stay, which is why many people go back to school to try something new. But I think it’s fair to say that some people’s expectations are a little over the top.

For instance, I have a relative who was offered a near six-figure job right out of college. (Yes, I’m a tad jealous!) Just three weeks in, he started complaining that they’re working him too hard because he’s in the office until 8 p.m. every night. But what he neglected to mention was that he doesn’t start his work day until 11 a.m., and goes out for an hour-long lunch everyday with his bosses, on the company’s dime. Yeah… must be rough.

Vigue goes on to advise employers to let a new hire know that during the first several months, while the focus is on learning a job, mistakes are expected and may be viewed as opportunities for learning. “Reassurance such as this can go a long way to improving the likelihood that your Gen Y employees will stay.”

Come again? Maybe I’m too old school for my own good, but I just can’t picture my CEO apologizing in advance to an entry level worker for potentially hurting his feelings when he’s told he screwed up. New workers shouldn’t expect high-level executive decisions to get run by them either. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way in the real world. At least not in my experience.

I was lucky that I found my fit and stuck with it. But I’m pretty sure my tolerance level and flexibility to go above and beyond my job description — even back when I was an intern — had something to do with that. And believe me, the nature of my work has dramatically evolved over the years. Incidentally, even after 10 years, I still try to prove myself everyday.