The most important thing to optimize for on your first job is growth. Growth is king, queen, and emperor combined. Optimize for growth above compensation, above location, above lifestyle, and above anything else.
Getting a young person on a high growth path will set that person up for success much more so than even the quality of the university they attended. That’s because so many super talented people grow way more slowly than their potential.
In your first job, you should be growing at least 25%/year. That means at the end of the first year, you are at least 25% better and by the first three years you are roughly twice as good. Unfortunately, most people grow way slower than that.
When you are old (like me) and presumably at a much higher base, growing at 10%/year is very acceptable. But early in your career you need to grow much faster to get to that very high base.
Your compensation change should lag your growth — but there will likely be a correlation. If you are growing at 30%/year you likely are getting a higher percentage raise than if you are growing at 10%/year.
This question originally appeared on Quora: What’s the best advice for someone looking for their first job?
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