It’s getting to be that time of the year when new graduates are finding and starting their first jobs. Every year I discover some new things that I thought everyone already knew, only to find that some of the basics are not common knowledge. So while some of this may sound obvious…I’ve heard from more than one person about some new hire who didn’t have a clue.
All fees are paid by the hiring company. I can’t say this enough. It’s on my web site in multiple locations and it is the standard when working with the majority of professional recruiters. Decades ago it was common for a job candidate to pay the recruiting fee out of his or her first pay check(s). Now, it is extremely rare for a recruiter to charge a fee to the job candidate. Do not be embarrassed to ask if there’s a fee associated with working with a recruiter. While it is better to know up front, the majority of us are paid by the company who hires you.
Travel is required. I’m always surprised by the number of people who don’t want to travel for work because they think they are going to have to pay for it out of their own pocket. Again, there are always exceptions, however, for the most part if you have a job that requires you to travel, the company will either pay in advance or reimburse you for travel, lodging and meals. Alcohol and entertainment are not typically reimbursable expenses (unless you are in a sales position and part of your job is to take customers out and provide entertainment).
This is not a license for you to fly first class, rent an expensive car and eat steak dinners every night. Some companies pay “per diems” (meaning they will set a specific amount per day that they do not expect you to go over to travel, stay at a hotel and eat). Some companies just expect you to use your own judgment when it comes to expenses. As a general rule, if you would not normally spend your own money on <insert questionable purchase here> then the odds are the company will think it is out of line as well. This does not mean starve yourself or stay in a hotel in a questionable area either.
First day paperwork. Some companies remember to tell you to bring identification with you for your first day. If no one says anything about this, it’s always a good idea to bring a valid passport or your driver’s license and some other form of government issued identification. If you’re really curious about acceptable forms of identification see: http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-9.pdf
It’s also helpful to know your social security number, bank account number and routing information.
You will need to complete an Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate so your employer can withhold the correct federal income taxes. W4 Form looks like this: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf
Direct deposit is a nice perk that many companies offer. For this you will need to know the name of your bank, your account number and routing information. Your very first pay check may not appear in your account automatically and you may have to deposit it yourself. Don’t assume it went in without checking. I’ve seen many people throw away their first check assuming it made it through the direct deposit process. Reissuing a paycheck costs the company and it takes time.
I’m a big fan of mentors. If you have one or two when you start your career, you are lucky. If not, it may be well worth your efforts to politely ask some people you know and respect. A mentor to help with business basics and etiquette and one for technical expertise is a good place to start.