First Job after college

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Vivian in Charleston, West Virginia

24 months ago

Why is first job after college so important? Is it sure that once you get in a field, you are going to get stucked in it? How hard it would be to make career changes down the road?

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Jeff in Denver, Colorado

24 months ago

Your first job has a strong influence on your entire career. It is much more important than how well did is school, or even what your major was.

In general, once a person is out of school for a few years, employers will make hiring decisions based on whether the person has experience doing similar work. If the person used in-demand skills at their job, they will have a big advantage when they need/want to get a new job. If they don't get to use in-demand skills, finding a new job can be difficult (and the older the person is, the more difficult it gets).

Salaries are generally dependent on salary history. Raises, even when changing jobs, are usually a percentage increase of the current salary. If a person starts out at a low salary, it might years before they catch up, and they might always be stuck at a low salary even if they are good at their job. As an example: person A starts out at $40k and gets good evaluations, so they get a 3.5% raise every year. Person B starts out at $50k and gets poor reviews, so they only get a 2.5% raise every year. (Both the 3.5% and 2.5% values are typical of the raises given at the places that I've worked.) It will be 23 years before person A makes as much as person B, even though person A is a better worker!

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Vivian Lackey in Charleston, West Virginia

24 months ago

Jeff in Denver, Colorado said: Your first job has a strong influence on your entire career. It is much more important than how well did is school, or even what your major was.

In general, once a person is out of school for a few years, employers will make hiring decisions based on whether the person has experience doing similar work. If the person used in-demand skills at their job, they will have a big advantage when they need/want to get a new job. If they don't get to use in-demand skills, finding a new job can be difficult (and the older the person is, the more difficult it gets).

Salaries are generally dependent on salary history. Raises, even when changing jobs, are usually a percentage increase of the current salary. If a person starts out at a low salary, it might years before they catch up, and they might always be stuck at a low salary even if they are good at their job. As an example: person A starts out at $40k and gets good evaluations, so they get a 3.5% raise every year. Person B starts out at $50k and gets poor reviews, so they only get a 2.5% raise every year. (Both the 3.5% and 2.5% values are typical of the raises given at the places that I've worked.) It will be 23 years before person A makes as much as person B, even though person A is a better worker!

Hey Jeff,

Thanks for your quick reply. I found it very helpful. I have Accounting background, and have passed CPA exam. I have been working as an IT business analyst (ERP) for a year after college. I'd like to pursue a career in Auditing/Assurance or Fiancial Analyst filed. I dont know how hard it would be to make this change. It seems like that every place requires at least 1 year related experience. But, i have skills that could be used for other jobs, such as communication skills, working with clients, problem solving skills, etc. And, is 46K a good starting salary for Charleston wv area? I started working in Jul. last year.

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Average in Medford, Massachusetts

24 months ago

Jeff in Denver, Colorado said: Your first job has a strong influence on your entire career. It is much more important than how well did is school, or even what your major was.

In general, once a person is out of school for a few years, employers will make hiring decisions based on whether the person has experience doing similar work. If the person used in-demand skills at their job, they will have a big advantage when they need/want to get a new job. If they don't get to use in-demand skills, finding a new job can be difficult (and the older the person is, the more difficult it gets).

So, what you're saying is that most workers now have a shelf-life. If they reach a certain age, it will be impossible for them to find a good job in the field they have been trained for. When employers say they see a shortage of workers with "in-demand" skills, what they really mean is that they can't find enough young highly skilled workers under the age of 30.

Your person A and person B example might be misleading. In the employer's handbook it is always cheaper to hire younger workers than older ones because they can get more work out of young workers regardless of the initial higher sticker price for younger workers.

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Jeff in Denver, Colorado

24 months ago

Average in Medford, Massachusetts said: So, what you're saying is that most workers now have a shelf-life. If they reach a certain age, it will be impossible for them to find a good job in the field they have been trained for. When employers say they see a shortage of workers with "in-demand" skills, what they really mean is that they can't find enough young highly skilled workers under the age of 30.

I'm saying that once workers reach a certain age, if they don't have experience with in-demand skills they will have a nearly impossible time trying to find a job. Once you're out of school more than a few years, what you did in school becomes irrelevant to employers; they only care about what you've done at your jobs.

[quote]Your person A and person B example might be misleading. In the employer's handbook it is always cheaper to hire younger workers than older ones because they can get more work out of young workers regardless of the initial higher sticker price for younger workers.

I don't see how this relates to my post. I was comparing 2 hypothetical workers, using raises that are typical of the organizations that I've worked for (they generally increased the overall salary pool by around 3 percent each year, and they usually gave a little more than the average increase to workers who got high evaluations and a little less than the average increase to workers who got below average evaluations).

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Average in Medford, Massachusetts

24 months ago

Jeff in Denver, Colorado said:
I don't see how this relates to my post. I was comparing 2 hypothetical workers, using raises that are typical of the organizations that I've worked for (they generally increased the overall salary pool by around 3 percent each year, and they usually gave a little more than the average increase to workers who got high evaluations and a little less than the average increase to workers who got below average evaluations).

My point was that business and professional firms would probably never hire an older non-managerial worker or someone with a low income salary history.

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Bluetea in Texas

24 months ago

Jeff in Denver, Colorado said: I'm saying that once workers reach a certain age, if they don't have experience with in-demand skills they will have a nearly impossible time trying to find a job. Once you're out of school more than a few years, what you did in school becomes irrelevant to employers; they only care about what you've done at your jobs.

I agree. Once you reach a certain age, an old degree means nothing. Also, old skill sets mean nothing. Some companies will even say, "Must have 2 years experience within the last 5 years in .....".

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Bluetea in Texas

24 months ago

Average in Medford, Massachusetts said: My point was that business and professional firms would probably never hire an older non-managerial worker or someone with a low income salary history.

They would but it would be a job not a career thing. I am very conscious of people "my age" and what they do for a living.

Unfortunately, it is more job than career but I am ok with that as long as I could hold out physically. That is where you'll face the most discrimination.

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Jeff in Denver, Colorado

24 months ago

Average in Medford, Massachusetts said: My point was that business and professional firms would probably never hire an older non-managerial worker or someone with a low income salary history.

OK. I guess I wasn't clear. My hypothetical people were early career people (I've always worked in IT or engineering, where it is common even for people under 30 to be making $50k).

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Jeff in Denver, Colorado

24 months ago

Bluetea in Texas said: I agree. Once you reach a certain age, an old degree means nothing. Also, old skill sets mean nothing. Some companies will even say, "Must have 2 years experience within the last 5 years in .....".

And that certain age begins with a '2'. As an acquaintance who owns a consulting company put it, "Grades don't matter once you're out of high school."

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Vivian in Charleston, West Virginia

24 months ago

Jeff in Denver, Colorado said: OK. I guess I wasn't clear. My hypothetical people were early career people (I've always worked in IT or engineering, where it is common even for people under 30 to be making $50k).

Yea, normally, the Engineering majors' starting salaries are more than 50K. The median is 60K ish.

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Bluetea in Texas

24 months ago

Jeff in Denver, Colorado said: And that certain age begins with a '2'. As an acquaintance who owns a consulting company put it, "Grades don't matter once you're out of high school."

Grades don't but age does. Once you are a certain age, you will have less choice in what you can do. I am 50 so I know first hand. Employers can always find someone younger and cheaper.

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Parafreegal in Chicago, Illinois

24 months ago

Bluetea in Texas said: Employers can always find someone younger and cheaper.

So can single guys out on the town.

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Jeff in Denver, Colorado

24 months ago

Bluetea in Texas said: Grades don't but age does. Once you are a certain age, you will have less choice in what you can do. I am 50 so I know first hand. Employers can always find someone younger and cheaper.

Younger and cheaper and more malleable and more easily intimidated.

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Jeff in Denver, Colorado

24 months ago

Average in Medford, Massachusetts said: My point was that business and professional firms would probably never hire an older non-managerial worker or someone with a low income salary history.

If I instead start Person A at $25k and Person B at $30k, it still takes Person A 19 years to catch up to Person B.

It's been my experience that only hardcore underachievers continually get bad reviews. Just about everyone gets rated average or acceptable or better. Therefore, it is unlikely that Person B will get a bad rating every year. So Person A will probably take much longer to catch up to Person B. If Person B was getting an average rating and a 3 percent raise, it would take Person A 38 years to catch up, which is virtually their entire career. Person B's career earnings would exceed Person A's even though Person A was the better worker!

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Jeff in Denver, Colorado

24 months ago

Bluetea in Texas said: Grades don't but age does.

Education doesn't matter, either. I essentially have 2 Master's degrees and I have no better chance of finding a job than a high school drop-out does. Actually, probably less of a chance. A grocery store might hire someone who never finished high school, but they won't hire someone with a Master's degree (at least not from a science or engineering field).

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Bluetea in Texas

24 months ago

Jeff in Denver, Colorado said: Education doesn't matter, either. I essentially have 2 Master's degrees and I have no better chance of finding a job than a high school drop-out does. Actually, probably less of a chance. A grocery store might hire someone who never finished high school, but they won't hire someone with a Master's degree (at least not from a science or engineering field).

You have less of a chance. One of my college professor's once did a reversal when he said, "Those who can do and the rest of you are in college". LOL!

He was referring to the Larry Ellisons, Michael Dells and Richard Bransons of the world. All high school/college dropouts.

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