first job tips

Everything You Need To Know On Starting Your First Job

Starting your first job can be exciting but also overwhelming. While finding a job is the main goal for new graduates, making the right financial decisions at this stage of your life is just as important.

The first step is to make the right financial choices with your first job and your first salary.

Get your first job

Landing your first job is all about getting your resume noticed by the hiring manager or your future employer and, of course, getting that interview right! You have to:

  • Prepare your resume: Use templates to get you started, take the time to list all relevant experiences, and don’t forget to write a cover letter as well.
  • Practice for your interview: Do proper background research, prepare the right questions and answers, and rehearse ahead of time.

How to negotiate your first paycheck

One obvious reason to negotiate your salary during an interview is that you can get a higher starting salary. But there’s also a long-term benefit – a higher starting salary in your career could lead to So how do you make sure you get paid fairly in your first job?

  • Look at salary guides. Companies like JobStreet or PERSOLKELLY publish annual salary guides. Use these guides to find out how much a new graduate typically earns in your role and industry. You can use this information to negotiate a fair salary during your interview.
  • Wait for the right time to ask. Don’t bring up the subject of salary right away when interviewing a potential employer – you may seem only interested in the salary, rather than the role itself. Instead, wait for the employer to raise it and negotiate it from there.
  • Let them know about your other salary offers. If you’ve interviewed with other companies, you can (tactfully) let the hiring manager know about other salary offers you’ve received. The hiring manager may offer to match or beat these offers. Of course, it can also backfire on you if they decide it’s out of their pay range!

Budget your first paycheck

It’s not easy balancing your living expenses, your student loans, and yes, even the temptation to start splurging right away! Here’s how you can stay in control of your finances:

  • Set aside for emergencies. Build an emergency fund that covers about three to six months of expenses. It helps you pay for unexpected expenses like a broken cell phone or an unexpected medical bill – without you having to take out a loan or depend on your parents.
  • Track your expenses. Consider tracking your expenses with a mobile app or spreadsheet. This helps you determine where your money is going and if you are overspending in certain categories.
  • Create a budget. An easy way to start budgeting is to use the 50/30/20 budget. This means that 50% of your income should be spent on necessities (like rent, loans, and groceries), 30% on needs (like entertainment or eating out), and 20% on savings.
  • Automate your finances. This makes it easier to keep your bills and savings goals under control. For example, you can set up automatic debits for your PTPTN loan instead of making manual payments. You can also set up automatic transfers to a savings account after you receive your salary.

Make your first investment

Once you’ve built up a sufficient emergency fund, consider growing your wealth through investing. But why bother investing when you’re young?

The answer is simple: capitalization. With compounding, your investment returns produce their own returns, growing exponentially over time. The earlier you start, the less you’ll need to invest to reach your financial goals.

  • Your investment style. If you prefer a “set it and forget it” approach to investing, you may prefer passive investing. If you like to spend a lot of time researching and analyzing each individual investment, you may prefer active investing. Of course, you can also use both approaches.
  • Your risk tolerance. What investment risk can you take? Risk tolerance generally depends on how comfortable you are with risk and your age (younger investors can generally take more risk because they have more time to recover from losses). Generally, high-risk investments tend to produce better returns, but they can also produce greater losses.
  • The allocation of your portfolio. This is how your portfolio (i.e. the sum total of your investments) is spread across different asset classes (like stocks, properties, and bonds). It’s important to have a mix of low-risk and high-risk investments, as this helps you spread your investment risk. Investors generally use their risk tolerance to determine the type of portfolio allocation they need.
  • What should you invest in? It depends on your investment style, risk tolerance and portfolio allocation. For example, if you want passive, beginner-friendly investing, consider mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which allow you to invest in many assets at once. You can also try a robo-advisor, which helps you create a portfolio allocation based on your risk tolerance and financial goals. On the other hand, if you prefer an active approach, consider investing in individual stocks (after doing your homework!).

Finally, First Do’s and Don’ts

Here are the common first job challenges you should be aware of:

  • Make mistakes. Learn from them and avoid similar situations in the future.
  • Dealing with people. Learning to work with others is a skill that takes time.
  • Feeling overwhelmed. Creating a calendar and to-do lists by priority and tools such as Google Calendar or Trello could help you plan your work more efficiently.
  • Balance work and personal life. Try setting work boundaries and review how you spend your time.

It’s important to focus on your career goals even after landing your first job. Always ask yourself if you are still learning or how meaningful do you find your work and be on the lookout for opportunities for advancement in your work.

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