Starting Your Financial Future With A New Job

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Let’s start the new blog at the financial beginning.  The period when you graduate from school, are young and single, and are just starting out can be both scary and exhilarating.  It will never be quite like this again, so get off to a good start.  Don’t just wait for things to happen and hope for the best; instead ensure your sound financial future by understanding sound financial principles and knowing how to make them happen.

Your first priority is getting a job since your income is the starting point for all your other financial calculations.  There are plenty of school, book, and web resources available for creating a first rate resume and looking for a job.  If you know a dream job, go for it, but chances are you will need to be flexible and willing to try different things.  Temporary jobs give you experience, income, and time to look further.  Taking an entry level job to “get your foot in the door” can lead to other opportunities within or outside an organization.  

I took a nondescript job just to get my foot inside an organization so I could look around for something else and, to my surprise, I liked it, got promoted quickly, branched out into other areas, and stayed thirty years.  I never got my dream job, but really liked the job I ended up with in the information technology field.  That computer job didn’t exist when I graduated from college before PCs were invented.

Technology and jobs are changing even faster now, so be prepared to move around, try different things, and learn new skills.  Consider a variety of jobs and careers whether you are young and starting out or experienced and looking for a new start.  Don’t be afraid to change jobs.  Some people say to start looking for a new job as soon as you get your current one.  This may be an exaggeration, but it pays to know your options, enhance your skills, and look for opportunities.  This could be the easiest way to give yourself a raise.  A Wharton study found that outside hires are paid 18% more for the same job than internal staff promoted from within.

You may also need to consider your priorities when choosing a career, a particular job, or a time to move on.  Certain jobs may lead to some combination of good money, benefits, useful experience, or high job satisfaction.  Each person must decide what is most important to them at any given time.  Some jobs provide none, so move on; others provide all four, so make sure you excel and hang on to it.  Don’t overlook the benefit of good benefits which sometimes may be even better than a good salary.  This website will help you calculate the worth of a company’s benefits for easier comparison:  http://calcxml.com/calculators/total-compensation.

Don’t overlook a career in the military or public service with the local, state, or Federal governments.  Your pay may be lower than the equivalent job in the private sector, but it is offset with a variety of benefits commonly offered by large organizations including leave, pension plans, a variety of insurance, and student loan forgiveness.  Don’t overlook less tangible benefits.  Some organizations like the military and public sector jobs have published salary scales so you don’t have to grovel for equal salaries like Dagwood Bumstead.

When you do land that job, your starting salary might be negotiable.  Don’t be shy about handling this important issue.  Accepting a low offer at the beginning of your career could lead to a lifetime of lower earnings as raises, benefits, bonuses, and future offers may be based upon this low foundation.  Ladies, this is one reason why women may have lower salaries than men, because women are less likely to bargain at this critical moment.  Be the first to get your starting number on the table to begin negotiations.  Try to find out what salaries are at the company or job position.  Research salaries at these websites:

Try to hold out for the recruiter’s second offer.  Perhaps point out that you have a large student loan that you are anxious to pay off or want to get off to a “responsible financial start”.  Can the business do better to help you meet these goals?  Don’t consider these points as embarrassing to make, but rather show that you want to be responsible which is one of the things recruiters are looking for.

No matter what job you have or what level you have it; it is important to do your best, build a good reputation and references, be seen to help the organization meet its goals, and be dependable.  This is the best way to get ahead, earn bonuses, or even keep your job during bad times.  When I was a manager, I discovered that most people considered themselves above average, which isn’t a bad thing.  But what I was looking for were employees whom I could depend upon to always handle a wide variety of matters, do them very well, be results-oriented, and work to meet the organization’s goals creatively.  Always remember that your reputation is one of your most important assets and that it is easy to harm and harder to repair.

About John Kimball

Over the past few decades, I have experienced most of these financial issues with both mistakes and successes. I sure wish someone had told me these things when I was first starting out. So many times I have cried out, "I want a do over!" when I learned a new financial lesson or tip. I aim to pass along to you the financial insights I have gained from experience, reading, analysis, and living the financial aspects of managing, saving, investing, and spending your money. I am an analyst with a large organization and happily married with two children on their way to an expensive college, no doubt. I read numerous financial blogs, websites, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, and books to bring you the latest news, insights, tips, and lessons combined with decades of experience.

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