First Job Offer Woes

After you’ve stood in line at career fairs, after you’ve sweated your way through endless grueling interviews all you can think about is that job offer. And you finally get one! But wait. Should you just go and accept the first job that comes your way? It depends.

When I graduated from the University of Toledo there was no particular city that appealed to me so I decided to move back to my hometown. But for some reason I applied for a job in a small city. After six years in school—full time—I finally held a degree in marketing with an advertising focus. Trust me, after all that time I was set on getting a job in advertising. What I discovered was that advertising jobs weren’t so readily available. Which is why I suppose I applied for the advertising job at a little radio station in…we’ll call it Littleton, so as not to insult anyone in the real city.

Normally, I’m 15-30+ minutes early for any appointment but I somehow ended up skidding up to the doors of the radio station about 10 minutes late. I’d miscalculated how long it would take me to drive to Littleton from Toledo. In reality, I think I knew on a subconscious level I really didn’t want this job. But I sat through the interview and it went really well.

Well, maybe Littleton wouldn’t be so bad. I drove around town a bit, checking it out, and ended up at the mall. I’ve never been one for shopping but I figured the mall would be a good representation of what the city had to offer.

In a word: tiny. In fact, it would have to get bigger to be tiny. But I overheard someone mention another mall. I stopped a woman to inquire about it.

“Oh, you mean the small one?” the lady asked.

“You mean this is the big one???” This was an OMG before OMG was even a thing.

Now what was I going to do? The radio station wanted me to come back in a few days to take a personality assessment test. I drove back to Toledo pondering the dilemma. Easy! I’d fail the test. I mean, it’s not like I could actually turn the job down, right? I was a brand new grad who ought to be lucky someone wanted to take a chance on me.

I arrived in Littleton as scheduled and took the assessment. I wasn’t quite sure how to fail a personality test but my theory was to answer the opposite of what I thought they’d want in the person they wanted for the job. I left confident in my failure and with a spring in my step.

A few days later I got a call. The lady on the other end of the phone raved about how great I’d done. Oh, come on!! How was I going to get out of this? Reluctantly I went for the final interview in Littleton hoping against hope they’d choose another applicant. It never dawned on me I was probably the only idiot who’d applied.

At that time I worked in the Admissions Office at my university. I talked to Shelly, one of the Admissions Counselors, who is still a good friend today, about the situation. And what she said changed everything. I might be a new grad but it didn’t mean I didn’t have a choice about the career I accepted. She assured me I shouldn’t feel bad about turning the job down if it wasn’t the right one for me. Something else would come along. What a relief! But I still hoped I wouldn’t have to have that difficult conversation.

Then the call I was dreading came. Much to my dismay they loved me and wanted to offer me the job. (Darn this charm of mine!) The conversation turned to pay. To say it was low was a severe understatement, like saying Harry Potter was a small success. Were they serious? It would be different if there were opportunities for advancement but there weren’t. I was going to be stuck with that pay for who knew how long. And Littleton was a tiny town far away from friends and family. And civilization.

So I took a deep breath and politely declined. The lady wanted to know why, of course, and I explained. That’s when she told me they’d upped the pay $2000.

Wow.

Now, as a professional, I realize I should have spoken up sooner. As a tremendously busy recruiter I hate to waste my time, so I regret doing that to the hiring managers. But after making a decision I was finally relieved. And Shelly was right. I got turned down for a couple other jobs but I also got a couple more offers. I accepted one of them and, eighteen years later, am still with the same company and have received five promotions over the years. Oh, and by the way, it wasn’t in advertising. But we’ll discuss tunnel vision in another blog post.

Recently I had a similar situation come up and I remembered this dilemma. As an aspiring author I have been attending conferences and reaching out to agents and editors in hopes that someone will either represent or publish my young adult manuscript. About three weeks ago I got an email that I thought was another rejection. But no, a publisher was interested!

And so much faster than I anticipated.

The company sent me the contract and I began reading it over. It might has well have been hieroglyphics! What was a decent advance for a new author? What about royalties? I started doing some research and reached out to other authors and agents that I’d met at the conferences for advice. The feedback varied from: It sounds very reasonable except ____ to: ‘Get a book on the shelf no matter what’. And, ‘They need to increase royalties and you need to keep the foreign, dramatic and commercial rights’.

What? I need an agent. Badly.

And then I remembered Shelly’s advice. Just because I’m a new author doesn’t mean I have to take the first deal. I learned a lot over the past few weeks and something else will come along.

Bottom line?  If the job that comes your way is right for you, grab it. If not, it’s not the end of the world. Just like me, your perfect fit will come your way in due time.

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4 thoughts on “First Job Offer Woes

  1. That’s great that you had a publisher interested in your book; as you said, the right offer will come along, and it’s a sign that you’re on the right track with your manuscript. This post has a lot of great advice – thoughtful, and I like how you include your own experiences. Very relatable.

    • Trying to get my book published feels very much like a new grad searching for that first job. I’m sure as I navigate this journey I’ll have lots more to share. By the way, I’m way envious of the way you have a blog post every day! 🙂 Great stuff on Career Avoidance!

  2. This is a really good story and can relate in so many ways, I look forward to reading more of your post. Jacque

  3. Pingback: Mind of a Recruiter | First Job: Salary Negotiation

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