When you graduate from college, you usually start hitting the pavement looking for a new job right away. Although there may be entry level job openings available for you with your new degree, there are about 7 competing applicants for every 1 job position out there. That makes things a lot more difficult! However, if you’re lucky enough to be offered a job and accept it, you’re well on your way to true adulthood. With your first full time job comes a lot more than a paycheck. You’ll be receiving paper work to fill out that will change your personal finances quite a bit. Here are some things you should prepare for when you’re about to start your first full time job:
Read every single paper your job gives you
I know it’s tedious, but it’s absolutely necessary. Don’t just sign your soul away on the dotted line. You have to read and understand what is being requested of you. For many jobs, you’ll be given confidentiality clauses, non-disclosure agreements, company requirements and expectations and so much more. I suggest going through everything with a highlighter, and highlighting the things you may have questions or concerns about. Do your own research, then if you have additional questions, contact your supervisor of Human Resources department. No question is a stupid question in this area, so keep asking until you fully understand it, then sign and initial.
Calculate your withholdings for your W4
Taxes make the world go round and your paycheck slimmer. Nevertheless, they’re required and necessary. When you come on board at a new company, you’ll be filling out a W4 form to let your job and the IRS know how much money to withhold from your check. You’ll be entering numbers for dependents and other exemptions. You want to find that sweet spot where you’re not overpaying the government and missing out on funds for your paycheck, and not underpaying them, because you’ll have to pay that money back to them come tax time. If you need help with this form, go to your family’s tax person and make sure you understand everything. Your HR department will also be able to help with this.
Sign up for medical, dental, vision and other benefits
If you’re lucky enough to get a job with a benefit package, I urge you to take advantage and sign up for the programs. Health insurance is not cheap, and just when you think you’re healthy, something will come up. You decide what’s the best option for you. Would you prefer an HMO or a PPO with more health practitioners? Do you have a preferred dentist? If you were going to a certain office when you were on your parents’ plan, and you prefer them, as your parents what type of insurance the company takes and sign up with that one. Benefits make your job that much sweeter.
Plan for retirement as early as possible
You’ve probably heard everything you could possibly digest about a 401(K), so it’s a no brainer that you should sign up if your company offers it. A lot of private companies require that you’re with them for at least a year before you can participate in this perk, so work hard to stay on board. In the mean time, look into other retirement options, such as an IRA account and maybe some investing. Your personal bank may have these options available to you, but if your job has the program, and contributes, don’t forget to get involved.
Ask a lot of questions
Don’t be afraid of being the “dumb new kid”. You should be asking questions of your colleagues and superiors every chance you get. Of course, be wary of personal questions, but the best way to get to learn more about the company and the atmosphere is to ask. Set up meetings with people and get to know what their job function is, how long they’ve been at the job, and what their favorite thing is about working there. You can make friends with your coworkers; it’s not unheard of. You’ll be better off asking questions and understanding what you’re doing than assuming you know everything and get scolded for not asking.
Congratulations on your job! Here’s to the beginning of a great work experience!