Finding a Job: You’ve already got a uni debt

finding a job

When you’re finding a job after graduation, you’re going to have to trade salary for experience. You’re not going to get the big bucks just yet, but the experience you gain will help you in the future. This post looks at why that trade-off should always stop at pay for experience, and why you should feel comfortable moving on.

… finding a job NEVER means finding experience debt

I’ll jump straight into it. There’s a piece floating around LinkedIn at the moment that has some professionals talking. Take a read:


Should I fire him?

 I have an excellent sales person that works all hours and keeps our many customers happy. He has worked his way up, presents well and is engaging. He is earning about £74000 plus expenses. Problem is that he has been offered another job. It is for only a few days per month but pays him almost 10 times his current annual salary. He says that he want to keep his job with us and there will be no conflict of interest.

 To be frank, I am a little disappointed having trained him to this level. But I am concerned that the other job will distract him from serving our clients. Our job is more than full-time. I also think that he would not have been offered that job unless he had served time with our company.

 I am also concerned that information will leak about our activities to the new job and that I will lose him anyway.

 A couple of questions? Should I keep him? Should I revisit his employment contract which states that he has to devote all his working time to our company? Or should I just terminate the contract now and cut my losses?


Keep or terminate

Here’s my advice: fire the employer (if you are in a secure enough position that you can do so).

This post is dealing with an issue that is a little further down the career path than just after graduation, but I think it’s important to talk about employer expectations. A significant proportion of you reading this will experience something similar to above in your first job or two and some of you might also experience it interning or volunteering.


A second perspective

While on the surface the above example might seem reasonable, there are several red flags that a graduate or someone in their first two years of their career might not pick up on. Apart from the comment that the second job pays ten times the employee’s current salary (which I assume means per hour pay, because otherwise, I’d just take the second job for more money at a fraction of the work), there are some concerning comments and opinions expressed in the post. Let me walk you through what’s wrong with above:


1.The employer admits the employee is “excellent”, works in addition to regular business hours and keeps the company’s “many customers happy.” But that isn’t enough.

As soon as I read the first two sentences of this example, it was the clear the employee is exemplary. An employee who is engaged in their work, chooses to work “more than full-time” and manages to keep customers happy is an employee worth hanging on to.

But for the employer, exceeding expectations isn’t enough. I understand the concerns that the employee’s work will be affected by having a second job, however, the subtext of what the employer wrote was that the employee can still do a lot more.

An employee receiving a job offer is a not problem. It’s an opportunity for both employer and employee to evaluate their ongoing relationship, assess what areas worked and what areas could be improved and what needs to be done to ensure the relationship continues. I pick up that the employer is pleased with the employee’s work, but why aren’t they willing to work with the employee?

You should never feel guilty for receiving a job offer.


2.The employer’s observations as to why the employee received the job offer are invalid and childish.

This gets to the crux of my problem with this post: the employer thinks the employee owes them, because the employer helped the employee’s career.

As I said above, you may owe money for your education, but you will not owe an employer for the training and experience you received at a job. The reason for this is simple: the work you do automatically pays off any “debt” you have accrued.

When you take your first job as a graduate, it is very likely you will earn less than someone with two years experience. While that sucks, the benefit is you’re gaining experience so that over time you can earn more. Looking at it differently, you could make the argument that a lower salary at the start of your career is a form of payment in exchange for experience.

The employer in the example, however, doesn’t seem to make this connection. Instead, their comments give the impression they think they’re still owed for the training and experience provided to the employee. Bluntly, this is an extremely childish way of looking at employees and indicates a concerning attitude towards people as things to be exploited. This is an unhealthy work environment that will be of more harm than good.

Secondly, the comment “I also think that he would not have been offered that job unless he had served time with our company,” is obvious and irrelevant. Every bit of experience received contributes in some way to your career. I think the employer is also saying the prestige of the company also contributed to the employer’s job offer, but again, it’s not relevant and comes back to the employer thinking they or the company are owed.

Your work automatically “pays off” any and all “debts” accrued from experience and training.


3.It’s not cool to provide this level of information, including salary, to gauge public opinion where the employee can see it.

Seriously. I feel like this a no-brainer, but it has to be said. Successful Graduate is extremely serious about online privacy and our course goes over how to lock down your online presence and why it’s important (learn more here). You really shouldn’t be posting up this level of information about yourself, so it’s really, really not ok to provide someone else’s info.

Worst of all, however, is that this was posted on LinkedIn, where the employee in question and friends and colleagues of both the employer and employee could see it. The name of the sales person was not included in the post and I haven’t included the name of the person who originally wrote the story – it has subsequently been deleted -, but the amount of information provided meant that anyone could quickly work out who was being discussed.

Anyone could work out who was being discussed on a post called: Should I fire him? Let that sink in for a minute.

The employer doesn’t care about their employee. If they cared, they wouldn’t seek out the advice of 400+ million strangers. They would speak to their employee.

Employment is a two-way street in which you, your employer and colleagues must all be treated with respect. The only requirement placed on you when you get a job is to do that job. You should never feel guilty for considering another job offer and you should never feel like you owe an employer for the experience gained in a job.

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