Vocate Blog

First Time Job Pitfalls – Andrew G. Rosen

Andrew G. Rosen is the founder and editor of the popular career advice website Jobacle.com, which tries to view employment from an employee's perspective. Recently, we sat down with Andrew to discuss the challenges faced by entry-level job applicants and hear some tips for millennials on how they can excel at their first job.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you decide to start a career advice blog?

I launched Jobacle over 12 years ago when I felt lost in my career. At the time, every resource I turned to seemed to be a carbon copy of the one before it. I figured if I couldn't find a straightforward career advice website that spoke to me, I would create one. I've always been passionate about finding happiness in my career (and life!), and I wanted to share the findings with the rest of the world. Why navigate the murky waters of full-time employment alone when we can all do it together?

What advantages do most entry-level job seekers have that they should leverage when applying for a position?

Entry-level job seekers are often much closer to new and emerging skills and technology than their already-at-work counterparts. They should be unafraid to put their fresh perspective on display (in a tactful way) during the application process and let their knowledge shine. Most organizations are looking to evolve – and they are looking to a younger workforce to help them do it.

To what extent (if any) should a candidate for an entry-level job try to negotiate their salary, benefits, or perks?

One of the hardest things people face in their careers, irrespective of age, is determining their worth to an organization or industry.  In my opinion, you should not be negotiating secondary perks such as additional days off or flex hours when it comes to an entry-level job. 

However, I do believe you should negotiate your salary. One of the hardest things to do is play "salary catch-up." You want to make sure you don't start so low that you are never able to get back to market value. A low starting salary hurts your chances of increases at the job you are going for – and potentially your next job.

These days, what value can an internship provide to a young adult's career?

Internships are everything. Aside from the knowledge, on-the-job training, and networking aspects, they are a great way to determine a career path. Interns often quickly discover that the day-to-day experience of a particular career might look very different from the inside.

How can someone determine whether a proposed internship is a fulfilling career opportunity as opposed to a glorified "gofer" role?

There are several key questions an intern should ask during the interview process to help them determine if the work experience will match their needs. Among them: Who will I be working for/with? What does a typical day in this internship look like? What are some projects past interns have worked on?

What are some of the common pitfalls that young adults fall victim to in their first full-time job experience?

One of the biggest traps I see first-time workers fall into is not understanding an organization's culture, taking it as an assault on their personal beliefs, and not making an effort to fit into the culture. If a company's culture (values, beliefs, attitudes, etc.) is not a match, you should probably look for a new job. Young adults need to understand that culture takes a very long time to change – if it ever does.

What strategies do you have for young adults in their first full-time job for dealing with coworkers or bosses with whom their personalities clash?

A majority of problems at work are resolved with stellar communication. Step one is to identify why you are having a problem with the person or boss. Step two is to take responsibility for your part in it (yes, it's possible you are part of the problem or the problem has been magnified in your head). Step three is to address the issue by communicating with the person to come up with a solution. If the person is simply "impossible," work around them. At the end of the day, you can only control your own feelings, so don't let annoying coworkers or bosses bother you (which is easier said than done!). Instead, control what you can control: your own actions and feelings.

Since millennials now make up the largest proportion of the U.S. workforce, what do you see happening in the future for the job seekers and up-and-coming employees in this age group?

Millenials have quickly shifted from entry-level job seekers to supervisors. In fact, many are already in leadership positions tasked with hiring members of Generation Z. One of the biggest challenges that this younger generation faces is how to manage Baby Boomers and Gen X employees. These older members of the workforce are often not as comfortable with technology and will have feelings and biases about being managed by folks with what they may perceive as having less experience/knowledge. Younger employees need to learn how to motivate and manage subordinates from these older generations since they will still be working for quite some time.

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Zack Andresen

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